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Ulun Danu Beratan: iconic Temple on Lake Beratan in the Bedugul Highlands

 

Set within the highlands of the mountainous Bedugul Regency in Bali, atop a plateau that sits on Lake Beratan, stands the majestic Ulun Danu Temple. In the mild, mountain weather, approximately 1,500 meters above sea level, the air is crisp and cool. The stunningly clear lake is calm and almost perfectly still, save for the soft breeze that occasionally sweeps across, creating tiny ripples upon its surface. A thin mist rises from the lake and hangs in the air, surrounding the temple, giving it a somewhat surreal appearance.

Pura Ulun Danu was built in adoration of the Goddess Danu. Danu, in the Balinese tongue, means lake, while the goddess Danu is queen of water, lakes and rivers. The temple complex consists of four sacred buildings. Linga Pura stands three levels high, and is a place of worship to the god Shiva. Pura Puncak Mangu stands 11 levels high, and was built in dedication to the god Vishnu. PuraTeratai Bang is the main temple, and Pura Dalem Purwa is built in worship to Sang Hyang Widhi. This last temple is also a site for those who pray for fertility, prosperity and well-being.

The style of the building follows the Trimurti belief; three holy colors to represent the three gods: Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu. The first color is red, to the lord Brahma, The Creator. Second, is black. The symbol of the lord Vishnu, the balance and preserver of the universe.Finally, white for the god Shiva, The Destroyer.

The area surrounding the temple is believed to have been a site of worship and center for religious rituals since the megalithic period. To the left of the temple lies a sarcophagus as well as a stone slate that are dated to around 500 BC. The existence of the temple itself is has been recorded as early as 1556. In 1633, it was rebuilt by the King of Mengwi, I Gusti Agung Putu,  with a mixture of Hindu and Buddhist architectural styles. Despite its age, the temple remains clean and in good condition, well kept by the local community. Ulun Danu Temple is one of the icons of the island of Bali, and is pictured on the 50,000 rupiah bill.

Lake Beratan is the second largest lake in Bali, and is the source of irrigation for rice fields and plantations across the entire Bedugul Village. The mountain on which it sits is often referred to as “the holy mountain” as the weather is cool and the soil rich and fertile. In early times, Lake Beratan was the largest lake in Bali, until a devastating earthquake occurred, dividing the lake into three sections: Beratan, Buyan and Tamblingan. The name Beratan comes from the word Brata, which means to conduct one’s self to fill the 9 primary needs in life. The word is used in the term “Tapa Brata,” which is to meditate and be united with nature.

 

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