Uluwatu Temple: a Balinese spiritual pillar
Uluwatu Temple or Pura Luhur Uluwatu, one of six key temples believed to be Bali‘s spiritual pillars, is renowned for its magnificent location, perched on top of a steep cliff approximately 70 metres above sea level. This temple also shares the splendid sunset backdrops as that of Tanah Lot Temple, another important sea temple located in the island’s western shores. Pura Luhur Uluwatu is definitely one of the top places on the island to go to for sunset delights, with direct views overlooking the beautiful Indian Ocean and daily Kecak dance performances. Balinese architecture, traditionally-designed gateways, and ancient sculptures add to Uluwatu Temple’s appeal.
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The cliff of Uluwatu Temple
Without a doubt, what makes Uluwatu Temple spectacular is its cliff-top setting at the edge of a plateau above the waves of the Indian Ocean. “Ulu” means the top or the tip and watu means a stone or a rock in Balinese. Several archaeological remains found here prove the temple to be of megalithic origin, dating back to around the 10th century. A small forest lies at the front and hundreds of monkeys dwell here. They are believed to guard the temple from bad influences. The serpentine pathway to the temple is fortified by concrete walls on the cliff side. It takes about an hour to get from one end to another as there are several fenced points along the way to stop. The views from the bottom of the water surging up against rocks and the ocean horizon are remarkable.
Pura Luhur Uluwatu
The Balinese Hindus believe that the three divine powers of Brahma, Vishnu and Siva become one here. That belief results in making Uluwatu Temple a place of worship of Siva Rudra, the Balinese Hindu deity of all elements and aspects of life in the universe. Pura Uluwatu is also dedicated to protect Bali from evil sea spirits. Inscriptions mention that Uluwatu Temple was instigated by Mpu Kunturan, a Majapahit monk who also participated in establishing several other important temples in Bali such as Pura Sakenan in Denpasar, about 1.000 years ago. A holy priest from eastern Java, Dhang Hyang Dwijendra, then chose Uluwatu Temple to be his spiritual journey’s final worshiping place. Balinese Hindu devotees believe that he reached the highest spiritual point of oneness with deities by a strike of lightning and completely disappeared. Legend, however, says that Dhang Hyang Dwijendra (also frequently referred to by name as Danghyang Nirartha) was the architect of Uluwatu Temple and several other temples in Bali, Lombok, as well as Sumbawa. Until 1983, Pura Uluwatu was hardly accessible and a lightning strike in 1999 set some parts of the temple on fire. The temple has had some restorations since it was first built.
The Monkey King during the Kecak Fire Dance
There are two stone troughs in the temple area. If both of them are joined, they create a sarchopagus (Megalithic coffin). Every six months according to the Balinese 210-day Pawukon cycle, big temple anniversary celebrations are held at the temple. The temple’s keeper, the royal family of Jro Kuta from Denpasar, are patrons for the event. Moreover there hasn’t been any significant erosion on the shoreline underneath the temple’s towering cliff. Believers regard it as a manifestation of the divine power that protects Pura Uluwatu. Uluwatu Beach, below the cliff, is one of Bali’s best internationally-known surfing spots.