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Home » Bali » The Temples of Mengwi and Uluwatu

The Temples of Mengwi and Uluwatu

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Overview

Travelling west from Bali’s capital Denpasar, you will find the town of Mengwi, which is home to one of the grandest temples of the island, the Taman Ayun. Built around 1740, Pura Taman Ayun is a water garden temple, symbolizing the cosmic union of sea and mountain.  Reflecting the order of the cosmos, the temple consists of three successive parts, they are: nista (the impure and demonic); madia (the middle and human); and utama (godly).  Most sacred (utama) is the inner court. The shrines are made and decorated in the finest traditions of Balinese carving.

North of Mengwi is the famous Monkey Forest of Sangeh, set in the heart of the only primary forest in southern Bali. This forest comprises entirely of pala (nutmeg) trees. The monkeys living here are considered sacred, an associated with the Ramayana epic, wherein Prince Rama allied himself with the white monkey hero Hanoman to attack Alengka. A number of the forest trees are also considered sacred and are used to make the barong masks. After Sangeh, the road heads northwards to Kintamani past some beautiful scenery near Plaga.

South to Uluwatu

Travelling south to Uluwatu, you will find very different scenery from the lush greenness found elsewhere on Bali. Here the land is arid consisting of limestone cliffs. Surfers know Uluwatu for its rolling breaks, particularly at Suluban, Labuhan Sair and Bingin.  

On the road to Uluwatu at the highest point of the Bukit peninsula you will find the Garuda Wisnu Kencana complex, better known as GWK. Envisaged as a site for grand concerts and performances and built in an ancient quarry, here stands what will become the tallest statue in the world, the Garuda Wisnu Kencana at 145m height, built by master sculptor Nyoman Nuarta. Presently finished is the bust of the god Vishnu. When completed, the statue will show Vishnu mounting Garuda, the mythical bird.   

At the most western tip of the plateau is the famous Pura Luhur Uluwatu. First built in the 11th century, it was rebuilt to its present shape in the 16th century. The carvings here are made in the unusually dark grey hard coral stone. Here also lives a colony of monkeys which guard the temple. Beware of these playful monkeys who will snatch anything from spectacles to cameras from visitors to exchange with food. The front split gate of the sacred temple is shaped as a set of carved garuda wings, while the second gate has the head of the monster Kala, the guarding figure. At the foot of the gate at either side are two elephant statues of the god Ganesha. From here you will find a breathtaking view of the Bali sun slowly setting over the ocean.

To explore Bali, visitors can take either a package tour from your hotel or any travel agency, hire motorbikes or rent a car, - chauffeur driven or self-drive, - to discover the many wonders that Bali offers.

Since most of the tours can be made within one day, you do not need to book another hotel unless you wish to stay overnight. Beautiful hotels are available in Ubud. There are also hotels at Kintamani and Lovina Beach in the north near Buleleng or at Amed Beach in the east of Bali.

There are many excellent restaurants in Ubud. There is a restaurant overlooking Mt. Batur at Kintamani and smaller restaurants at Lovina Beach and Amed Beach. When on tour better make sure you have snacks and drinks with you in the car.  

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