The spectacular cliff-top temple of Uluwatu is considered one of Bali’s most important places of worship for followers of the Hindu religion. Located on the island’ most southern coastal tip, the temple of Uluwatu offers visitors dramatic ocean views and a deep rooted spiritual ambience.
Essentially Uluwatu Temple is dedicated to the spirits of the sea and is believed to be amongst the very first temple compounds established on Bali during the 11th Century. Its name is derived from two syllables – ‘ulu’ meaning end and ‘watu’ meaning stone, hence the name roughly translates as temple at the stony end.
There are two legendary figures in Balinese-Hindu religious history associated with the temple. The first was a wandering Javanese sage by the name of Empu Kuturan, who was believed to have arrived on the island of Bali riding upon the back of a deer. Kuturan was renowned for renewing the customs, ethics and religious ceremonies that had long been in a state of decline. He was said to be a talented builder of shrines and created structures that resembled Chinese pagodas, which are called meru. When Kuturan arrived in Bali there was possibly a small temple already atop the cliff at Uluwatu, but he was responsible for adding several shrines to complete this enchanting complex of worship.
The second figure associated with Uluwatu Temple was a priest from East Java by the name of Danghyang Nirartha. He is said to have come to Bali with his family during the reign of Dalem Waturenggong in approximately 1546 and he journeyed all over the island building temples and shrines. The most famous would have to be Tanah Lot, which is perched majestically on a rocky islet just off the coast of the Tabanan Regency. Nirartha was also responsible for adding padmasana shrines to the temples that he visited to represent a symbolic stone resting place for the Gods. In his time Nirartha built a padmasana at Uluwatu temple where he was able to attain a state of moksa, which is a pure escape from the eternal cycle of reincarnation.
Uluwatu Temple is considered a sacred site for dedicated member of any spiritual or religious movement. This unique peaceful setting, some 70-metres high above the pounding Indian Ocean, evokes a sense of harmony where man and nature unite to become one.
Undoubtedly the best time to visit Uluwatu Temple is in the late afternoon when the heat to the sun is less intense. This elevated cliff-top vantage point is the perfect place to experience the vibrant hues of the sun setting over the distant horizon.
Travellers’ should be warned that the temple is home to a cheeky clan of monkeys. Although quite tame, the monkeys are known for quickly snatching sunglasses, hats, cameras and other personal items. Keepers in the area will help retrieve these stolen goods with a bribe of peanuts or bananas.