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Aside from the spectacular underwater splendors off its coastline and around the nearby Menjangan Island, the serene little village of Pemuteran is also surrounded by Balinese distinct cultural charm which radiates from the beautiful temples that lie in some of the most dramatic natural settings. Among the most notable are the Pura Agung Pulaki, Pura Pabean, and Pura Melanting.
Centered on Pulaki Bay just to the east of Pemuteran Village, the temples located in separate places in this area form what is known as the Pulaki Temples Complex. The complex is centered at the Pura Agung Pulaki, while 6 other temples known as its pesanakan or families are Pura Pabean, Pura Kerta Kawat, Pura Melanting, Pura Belatungan, Pura Puncak Manik and Pura Pemuteran. According to local beliefs, the 7 temples represent the Hindu’s concept of the Sapta Loka and Sapta Patala or the seven layers of the universe.
Nestled magnificently between the mountain and the sea, Pura Agung Pulaki sits pleasantly in the perfect setting of what Balinese called Nyegara Gunung or where the mountain meets the sea – a place of very high spiritual energy. The temple is considered as one of the biggest and most important temples in Bali, and was said to have been built to commemorate the arrival of the Javanese Priest Saint Danghyang Nirartha to Bali in the early 16th Century. The temple is dominated by black granite stone in its architecture and decoration, perfectly blending with the hilly background as if some parts of the temple are actually carved out from the cliffs.
The cliffs behind the temple are surrounded by jungle and inhabited by hordes of monkeys. As the statue in front of the main entrance suggests, these monkeys are believed to be the descendants of the heroic Hanuman mentioned in the Ramayana saga and have existed long before the arrival of Danghyang Nirartha. It is said that when Danghyang Nirartha entered the forest of Pulaki he was escorted by troops of these monkey. As his respect to them, Danghyang Nirartha then established the Pulaki Temple and the all the monkeys there came to be its guardians.
It is said that prior to the arrival of Danghyang Nirartha, a village of 8000 people existed here. When Nirartha came, the village leader requested a boon that Nirartha granted: the village was to be given supernatural knowledge that would enable it to attain an immaterial state. Thus, the entire village and all its occupants became invisible and locals believe that they still exist until today. These invisible supernatural beings are called “Gamang” or “Wong Samar” and offerings are routinely given to them.
Just a short walk crossing the street about less than 20 meters from Pura Agung Pulaki, is Pura Pabean sitting enchantingly on a small hill on the shore overlooking the picturesque coast of Pemuteran. While the view is already a pleasure on its own, the architectural feature is equally magnificent. With, two gigantic dragon sculptures (Naga Anthaboga and Naga Basuki) decorating the main entrance, the temple displays an unusual blend of Balinese culture and Chinese decorations.
The Temple is said to have been dedicated to the ancestors of the early seafarers from China and other countries visiting Bali. The name Pabean itself is said to bederived from the word “bea” , which in Balinese (and Bahasa Indonesia) means “customs” and is closely related to customs activities on sea traders in the port. Thus, this temple is frequently visited by ethnic Chinese living in Bali and local fishermen and seafarers.
At the foot of Pura Pabean, by the sea is a very simple and much older temple known as Pura Segara. The only features here are two piles of stones which appear very aged with a vaguely human shape.
Located a bit further from the shoreline, roughly about 4 Kilometers from Pura Pulaki and Pura Pabean is Pura Melanting. All across Bali, one may find many temples called Pura Melanting which are usually located near market places or trade centers since this is known as the temple for traders who seek good fortune. The Pura Melanting near Pemuteran coast is recognized as the center of the entire Melanting Temple network since it is believed to be the abode of Ida Betara Ratu Mas Melanting. Ida Betara Ratu Mas Melanting was known in her lifetime as Dyah Ayu Swabawa, daughter of Danghyang Nirartha who taught the local population how to trade.
Aside from the stunning view of Mount Pulaki in the background, Pura Melanting also features the beautifully presented inner compound of the main temple. The inner compound houses a small but serene pond and stunning meru painted in a rainbow of colours and decorated with countless yellow and white ceremonial umbrellas. The tranquility of the place creates a perfect atmosphere and ambience for people to do their prayers and also to meditate.
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Located just to the east of Pemuteran Bay, the temples of Pulaki, Pabean, and Melanting are just a short drive away (roughly about 8 minutes) from the tourists facilities compounds of Pemuteran Beach. If you are staying in Pemuteran area or at Lovina Beach it is best to rent motorbikes, since these temples can be easily reached from the main road.
The best way to get to Pemuteran is to organize a car from wherever you are on the island. A direct ride to Pemuteran from tourist centers in the south (Kuta-Sanur-Nusa Dua) will take about four hours depending on traffic on the coastal roads. From the equally amazing Beach of Lovina in Singaraja, the trip will take roughly about an hour.