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Making the Pilgrimage to Tanah Lot

Making the Pilgrimage to Tanah Lot

Tanah Lot Temple or Pura Tana Lot is a Hindu shrine built on an outcrop in the ocean that extends 984 feet high. It is one of the most famous and most photographed temples on the south coast of Indonesia, Bali Island.

Tanah Lot Temple is an ever-crowded tourist attraction. Visitors come from far and beyond to see this ancient temple spectacularly located in the sea. If you can push through the hawkers at the entrance and busloads of tourists on the temple grounds, you can treat yourself to sunset backdrops. It is satisfying to watch the tropical sun slowly disappearing on the horizon.

Pura Tanah Lot is a must-see ancient Hindu shrine perched on a 978-foot rock floating on the sea. Read on to find out everything to know before visiting this temple in Bali, including other sea temples.

Location of Pura Tanah Lot

Location of Pura Tanah Lot

Pura Tanah Lot is one of the seven sea temples located along the Bali coast. It is located just about 12 miles northwest of Denpasar in the Baraban Village of the Tabanan Regency. This temple sits on an offshore rock that has been continuously eroded over the years by the ocean tides.

The History of Tanah Lot Temple

The History of Tanah Lot Temple dates back to the 16th Century. But before we talk about how it came into existence, let’s discuss its naming.

The term, “Tanah”, means land, while “Lot” means sea in the Balinese language. When loosely translated in English, Tanah Lot means land in the sea. The word “Pura” means temple. Therefore, we may use “Pura Tanah Lot” or “Tanah Lot Temple” interchangeably throughout this article.

Tanah Lot Temple

The story of Tanah Lot Temple started in the 16th Century when the famous high priest Dang Hyang Nirartha from the Majapahit Kingdom in East Java came across the beautiful island of Bali. Dang Hyang Nirartha, first sighted Bali when he traveled to the south coast to spread Hinduism.

Dang Hyang Nirartha decided to rest on the rock. While still resting, fishermen around the island saw him and brought him gifts. He spent a night with them and asked them to build a shrine on the rock because he found it an ideal place for worshiping the Balinese sea gods. Tanah Lot Temple was dedicated to Dewa Baruna (or Bhatara Segara), a sea god in local mythology.

Pura Tanah Lot

According to Balinese mythology, Dang Hyang Nirartha had supernatural powers. He used his powers to move the rock out into the sea and built a temple. The Beraban villagers were amazed by his unnatural power and decided to follow him and his beliefs.

To protect the temple from evil and intruders, Nirartha threw his sash into the water that turned into venomous sea snakes that would defend the temple from evil spirits.

The Balinese mythology also connects Dang Hyang Nirartha to a three-temple system located in naerby Balinese villages. The temple built in the northern area would be dedicated to Brahma, the one in the middle to Vishnu, and the southern temple to Shiva.

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Restoration of Tanah Lot Temple

The rock the temple sits on experiences the worst impact from ocean tide. The constantly crashing waves that have hit it for centuries finally took a toll on it in 1980. The rock and temple structures started crumbling and became too dangerous for visitors. It seemed this ancient Hindu shrine perched on an outcrop was to be destroyed by mother nature.

Fortunately, the cash-strapped Indonesian government received a loan from the Japanese government to protect this iconic tourist attraction site from destruction. The Temple was massively renovated. This included the mass application of sturdy artificial rock. Today, about one-third of the “rock” at Tanah Lot Temple is manmade.

What To Expect When You Visit Tana Lot Temple

Tanah Lot Temple attracts millions of tourists every year because of its incredible view and beauty. Some people who visit this temple on the rocky island of Bali are also interested in its history. So, what do you expect to see when you finally get to the temple grounds?

Tanah Lot Sunset Terrace

Tanah Lot Sunset Terrace

Tanah Lot temple is the most photographed temple in Indonesia because of this sunset terrace. It is the main reason the temple grounds are always crowded with both local and international tourists.

The Tanah Lot Sunset Terrace is located on the northern side of the temple and offers the best sunset backdrop for creating an unforgettable memory of the place. Watching the tropical sun disappearing on the horizon from this spot is a one-of-a-kind feeling. Its natural beauty is unmatched!

Tanah Lot Sunset Terrace

You can get to the Tanah Lot Sunset Terrace by walking along a pathway close to the temple. It is complete with all facilities you would expect close to any tourist attraction site. You will find restaurants, a puppet painting museum, a money changer, and gift shops where you can buy souvenirs and local handicrafts.

Visiting the Tanah Lot Sun Terrace at high tide gives you the best views of this temple on Bali Island. From here, the Pura Tanah Lot seems like an abandoned ship floating on the wavy waters of the ocean. While the high tide is the only way you’ll see the whole small island floating effect, you should come to this temple during low tide if you want to actually access the temple grounds!

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Holy Snake

Holy Snake
Image by InBali

When you visit the Tanah Lot Temple during low tide, you are likely to see sea snakes in the crevices at the base of the rock. However, these are poisonous snake species that you should not play with.

Seriously, do not touch them!

If you can’t keep your hands off snakes, worry not! The Tanah Lot Temple has a holy snake that guests can touch. Like the ravens at the Tower of London, this snake protects the temple and will not attack visitors. In return, people respect, protect, and conserve the snake’s natural habitat. You may be required to pay a fee to interact with the holy snake.

According to Balinese mythology, visitors can safely touch the holy snake without fearing counterattack. However, you should only do so when advised by your tour guide, who understands how the snake behaves.

Another legend about the snake is that it makes your wishes come true if you pray while touching it!

Tirta Pabersihan Fountain

Tirta Pabersihan Fountain

The Tanah Lot Temple is known for its holy water from the Tirta Pabersihan fountain. This fountain is only reachable when you visit the temple at low tides. Many Hindus from the Beraban village and beyond come here to fetch holy water. They have to present offerings to the temple and ask God to allow them to do so.

Tirta Pabersihan fountain is a freshwater spring that rises beneath the rocks through the cracks. The resident temple priest also blesses visitors by sprinkling its water on them.

The water from the Tirta Pabersihan fountain is also used to wash the temple ceremony equipment. It is also the source of holy water for all temples in the area.

There is no entrance fee charged for entering the fountain’s cave. However, you can donate to help maintain the temple and other structures.

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Odalan Festival

Odalan Festival

The best time to visit Pura Tanah Lot is during the Odalan Festival. It is celebrated every 210 days and is an invitation for the Gods to visit for a few days. It is typically marked with performances as well as traditional foods and libations.

The rituals happen near Galungan and Kuningan festivities during Buddha Cemeng Langkir. This holy festival is famous for the procession of Balinese women bringing offerings on their heads to the temple and praying.

Kecak Dance

Men dancing, Kecak Dance

Many temples and other tourist attraction sites in Bali, such as Uluwatu Temple, organize Kecak Dance. However, nothing beats what is offered at Tanah Lot Temple shortly after the sunset.

The Kecak Dance was created in the 1930s by Wayan Limbak and German painter Walter Spies. This dance became more and more popular and has gone through transformations, including the introduction of fire. It is something you won’t want to miss when you visit this temple because it is entertaining and educational.

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Other Things to Do Near Tanah Lot Temples

Tanah Lot Temple is not the only temple in Bali. There are many things to do here to make your day trip complete.

Offshore Temples

Tanah Lot is not the only temple on Bali Island. Other offshore temples you can visit include Pura Pekendungan, Pura Batu Bolong, Pura Jero Kandang, Pura Enjung Galuh, and Pura Batu Mejan. Each of them has its own history and mythology.

For example, before Nirartha left Beraban village, he gave the Balinese chief a special dagger. This traditional weapon was believed to repel crop diseases and was initially kept in Pura Pekendungan.

A convenient pathway connects Tana Lot to Batu Bolong temple. You will come across well-kept tropical gardens. There are resting spots with shades and views of the outcrops and art shops selling local products.

Your visit to these temples will make you learn more and give you the best feeling of their beauty. If your time is limited, try to squeeze in a trip to at least the main offshore temple, Pura Pekendungan.

Melasti Beach Side Waterfall

The waterfall is located just a 15-minutes-walk from the Tanah Lot Temple at the sandy Melasti beach. Wend your way here to escape the crowds at the temple ground.

The Melasti beachside waterfall exudes its own vibe and is among the best-hidden treasures of Bali Island. The best time to be here is in the evening, just when the sun is about to go down. You will watch the serene scene created as water flows off the cliff into the sea. You better carry your camera to capture every moment of it!

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Tanah Lot Beach

Tanah Lot Beach

Most tourist attraction sites in Bali are best visited during sunset, and Tanah Lot beach is no different. Sunset is the best time to capture the breathtaking views of the temple on a big rock floating in the sea.

Tana Lot beach is characterized by a black sandy coastline. This feature is what has given it the world fame it currently enjoys. Tourists from all over the world come here to claim their share of the natural beauty and fun.

Art Market

Art Market

The Tanah Lot Art Market is popular among tourists who shop for various local products. It is usually crowded with shoppers of all kinds looking for the best items and arts it offers.

The most commonly bought ones include unique motif batiks, intricate Balinese carvings, and knick-knacks. You will not find them anywhere else when you leave the island.

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Best Time to Visit Tanah Lot Temple

Tanah Lot Temple is usually overcrowded by tourists who struggle to get the best spot for a panoramic view of this iconic feature. Therefore, you may want to visit during low seasons when you are less likely to bump into other tourists.

The best time to get to this temple is between January and April and September to October. You will meet fewer crowds, and you will easily find accommodation services. Also, the flight prices are typically lower.

Go to the temple during the evening to watch the sunsets for the most serene views. It is the golden hour for those who like photography.

You also want to go to Tanah Lot temple during low tides. That is when you can access the fountain of holy water and learn the great religious importance behind it. In fact, you stand a chance to be blessed by the priest!

Facilities at Tanah Lot Temple

The area around the temple is highly commercialized and has modern facilities to serve visitors. It is also well-managed with all commodities to ensure comfort. There are toilets, a parking area, art shops, restaurants, a hotel, a tourist information center, an open stage for lectures and performances, as well as security and safety services.

Different local restaurants here offer sumptuous breakfast and lunch options. You can spend your entire day here and watch the beautiful golden rays of the sun as they disappear on the horizon made of a vast sea.

How to Get to Pura Tanah Lot

Tanah Lot Temple is not far away from Tabanan City. That makes it accessible by road. You can hire a car or a scooter to go by yourself. However, most tourists consider an Island Tour for convenience.

The temple is only about a 45-minute-drive away from Kuta, Legian, and Seminyak. You can even take a shorter time if you come from Ubud.

Some tourists like using private cars from Denpasar to Kediri, the nearest town. However, we recommend Tanah Lot Temple Tours. Many tour operators in Bali include Tanah Lot Temple in their day trips, which will make you explore the area even better. Besides, some tour fees include entrance fees, meals, taxes, and almost everything.

You can also expect to visit the following places with most Bali Tours:

  • Alas Kedaton
  • Ulun Danu Temple
  • Taman Ayun Temple
  • Kintamani Volcano
  • Ubud
  • Jatiluwih Rice Terraces
  • Bedugul, etc.

There are many tours to consider, but the following are the most recommended:

  • Tanah Lot Temple Sunset Tour
  • Bedugul Tour with Handara Gate and Tanah Lot Temple
  • Kintamani Volcano, Tanah Lot Temple Tour

Where To Stay Near Tanah Lot Temple

Finding accommodation services during peak season in Tanah Lot can be challenging. This is one of the places in Indonesia that receives thousands of tourists every day. Fortunately, a town and city are nearby.

Some tour groups arrange accommodation for tourists, but if you want to do it yourself, do it in advance. You can search for the best accommodations at Booking.com or choose from the following recommendations:

Natya Hotel Tanah Lot

Tables and chairs with great view
image by Booking.com

Natya Hotel Tanah Lot is a budget hotel located just 0.1 miles from Tanah Lot Temple. It features a restaurant, an outdoor swimming pool, and air-conditioned rooms. 

There is also free wireless internet for guests and many other on-site facilities. Despite the affordability, Natya Hotel Tanah Lot remains one of the best hotels near Tanah Lot Temple.  

Coco Verde Bali Resort

Deluxe room with king-size bed
image by Booking.com

Coco Verde Bali Resort is an exceptional hotel near Tanah Lot Temple that offers more than just rooms. It has a restaurant, an outdoor swimming pool, a bar, and a garden on the site.

You also access free parking services and can engage in activities such as hiking, cycling, and even horse riding.

Little Ripper Boutique Loft Studio

Spacious living room
image by Booking.com

The central location of this hotel makes it one of the best hotels for exploring nearby beaches. It is close to Kedungu and Panggungan beaches.

This facility has all amenities you would expect in a crisp, modern apartment, including a terrace. It features family rooms with a kitchen, bathroom, TV set with cable channels, and further mod cons.

Seaside Tribe – Boutique Surf Stay & Retreat

hotel pool
image by Booking.com

Seaside Tribe is about an 18-minute-walk from the beach. It features an outdoor swimming pool, shared lounge, garden, and free Wi-Fi, and all rooms in this facility have desks, bed linens, and a patio with a pool view. Other rooms are air-conditioned and have private bathrooms.

Villa 58 Tanah Lot

Villa 58 Tanah Lot Pool With Bed-Chair
image by Booking.com

Villa 58 Tanah Lot is a high-end hotel in Tanah Lot. It provides beachfront accommodation featuring an outdoor swimming pool, a shared lounge, a garden, private parking, room service, and free Wi-Fi. The airport shuttle service is also available for a nominal fee.

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