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Temples in Indonesia
Indonesia is a melting pot of cultures, religions and peoples and its diversity is no more obvious than in its temples. Perched precariously on vertiginous clifftops, floating on serene lakes, and relentlessly pummelled by the crashing waves of the Indian Ocean, the setting of Indonesia’s temples is as phenomenal as their architectural merit. We’ve shortlisted our very favourite temples from across the archipelago.
Besakih Temple, Bali
Built on the slopes of Mount Agung, the highest volcano on the island of Bali, Pura Besakih is an ancient temple harking back more than 1000 years. Located only 2 hours from Bali’s beach resorts, Besakih is accessible from almost anywhere in Bali. Dedicated to a dragon god who is believed to inhabit the mountain, Besakih is an incredibly sacred site steeped in myth and legend.
The temple complex of Borobudur is one of the most striking in Asia, if not the world. Overlooked by bottle green paddies and nestled between swaying palms, the Buddhist monument is an enigmatic testament to the rich history and fascinating heritage of Indonesia. The sheer size of the temple defies belief, consisting of no less than 2 million blocks of lava and a staggering 504 statues of the Buddha, meticulously arranged in the shape of a lotus flower. The temple remains shrouded in mystery, remaining undiscovered until 1814.
The world heritage listed temple of Prambanan is Indonesia’s largest Hindu monument, a spectacular compound consisting of no less than 16 temples. Abandoned by Javanese kings, toppled by a great earthquake, Prambanan is currently being restored to its former glory as one of the most majestic temples in Indonesia.
Tanah Lot, Bali
Perched on a rocky outcrop, Tanah Lot is one of seven sea temples that form a chain along Bali’s west coast. Establishing its place in Balinese mythology, it is thought that Tanah Lot is the work of a 15th century priest who instructed the local fishermen to dedicate the site to the gods and goddesses of the sea. At sunset, the temple tends to be particularly busier so to beat the crowds and head to Tanah Lot earlier in the day.
Ulun Dana Bratan, Bali
Sitting on a small peninsula on the shores of Lake Bratan, Ulun Dana Bratan seems to float on water. Often shrouded in fog, and perpetually shrouded in mystery, its iconic main temple, a seven-tier tower, is a simply breath-taking sight. The temple complex, dedicated to Dewi Danu, the goddess of water, plays an important role in irrigating the area too, confirming its integral place in the local community
It is Uluwatu Temple’s spectacular setting, on a high plateau overlooking the endless blue of the Indian Ocean, that steals the show. This place for worship is dedicated to Siva Rudra and was inaccessible until 1983. Thanks to its positioning, the spot enjoys glorious sunsets making for stunning photo opportunities towards the end of the day. Only a short drive from some of Bali’s most well renowned towns, Uluwatu is a fantastic spot for a day trip in Bali.