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Making the Pilgrimage to Tanah Lot

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Tanah Lot Temple, or Pura Tana Lot, is one of the most popular temples in Bali for tourists to visit. It’s a Hindu shrine built on an ocean outcrop 984 feet high and is one of the most photographed temples in Bali.

Millions of tourists make their way to visit Tanah Lot temple each year, the most popular time being to arrive in time to catch the stunning Tanah Lot Temple sunset views. So, while there are thousands of Bali temples to visit, Tanah Lot is most definitely worth paying a visit to. Just be prepared for crowds.

If you can push through the hawkers at the entrance and busloads of tourists on the temple grounds, you are in for a unique offshore setting of significant local religious and cultural heritage. Moreover, this popular tourist attraction features more than just a pretty spot for sunset. Sea snakes, sea gods, dodging crashing waves, and admiring the rocky outcropping on which the temple is located are all part of the fun.

So, with all that being said, read on to learn everything there is to know about this temple in Bali, with some top advice on things you should know before making your pilgrimage to Tanah Lot.

TL;DR

Category Information
Location Tanah Lot, Beraban Village, Tabanan, Bali, Indonesia
Best Time to Visit Evening hours to witness the beautiful sunset over the temple.
How to Get There
  • 30-minute drive from Denpasar Airport
  • 40-minute drive from Ubud
  • 30-minute drive from Kuta
  • Easily accessible via hiring a taxi, using ride-sharing apps, joining organized tours, or self-driving.
Notable Spots Nearby
  • Batubolong Beach
  • Uluwatu Temple
  • Tanah Lot Night Market
  • Taman Ayun Temple
  • Alas Kedaton Monkey Forest
  • Mengwi Royal Temple
Additional Tips
  • Respect the local customs and dress modestly when visiting the temple.
  • Arrive early to avoid crowds, especially during peak tourist seasons.
  • Stay hydrated and wear sunscreen as it can get hot during the day.

Location of Pura Tanah Lot

Location of Pura Tanah Lot

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

Map of Bali Tourist Attractions

If you are looking for a more defined map of Bali and its tourist attractions, here is a map to help you get oriented for your trip:

Map of Bali Tourist Attractions

The History of Tanah Lot Temple

Tanah Lot Temple

The History of Tanah Lot Temple dates back to the 16th Century. But before discussing how it came into existence, let’s discuss its naming. “Tanah” means land, while “Lot” means sea in Balinese.

When loosely translated into 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.

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 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 is 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 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, which turned into venomous sea snakes that would defend the temple from evil spirits.

Balinese mythology also connects Dang Hyang Nirartha to a three-temple system in nearby 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 large rock formation 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. Significant renovations to the temple included the mass application of sturdy artificial rock. Today, about one-third of the “rock” at Tanah Lot Temple is manmade.

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What To See and Do Tana Lot Temple

Tanah Lot Temple attracts millions of tourists annually 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 one of the most photographed temples in Indonesia because of this sunset terrace. It is the main reason the temple grounds are always crowded with 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 holy 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 has all the usual facilities you would expect close to any major 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 plan to try and 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 will likely 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, please 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, it would be best only to 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 must present offerings to the temple and ask God to allow them.

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

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Kecak Dance

Men dancing, Kecak Dance

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

The Kecak Dance was created in the 1930s by Wayan Limbak and German painter Walter Spies. This dance became increasingly popular and has transformed, including fire introduction. You won’t want to miss it when you visit this temple because it is both entertaining and educational.

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Tips for Visiting Tanah Lot

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 should 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, flight prices to Bali will generally be lower around this time. 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. You stand a chance to be blessed by the priest!

How to Get to Pura Tanah Lot

Pura Tanah Lot, Bali
linortis / Adobe Stock

Tanah Lot Temple is located 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 joining a tour for convenience.

The temple is about a 45-minute drive or taxi ride away from Kuta, Legian, and Seminyak and a little longer if you take a bus. Cut that down to about 30 minutes if traveling from Ubud.

Some tourists like using private cars from Denpasar to Kediri, the nearest town. Many tour operators in Bali include Tanah Lot Temple in their day trips, making you explore the area even better. Besides, some tour fees include the cost of your entrance fee, meals, taxes, and almost everything else included in a visit.

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.

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Valuable Things to Know Before Visiting Tanah Lot Temple

Tanah Lot Temple by the Ocean
Suwandi Chandra/Wirestock Creators / AdobeStock

If you plan to visit the popular tourist destination of Tanah Lot Temple, there are a few extra things to keep in mind to make for a brilliant visit:

Dress code: If you don’t want to enter the temple area, wear whatever you feel comfortable in. But if you do plan on entering the temple complex, make sure to dress modestly. Be respectful by covering your shoulders and knees, and take off your shoes before entering.

Tickets: The entrance fee for your Tanah Lot visit can be purchased online as part of a tour or as a stand-alone ticket on-site. You can also pay a small parking fee to park in the nearby parking area if traveling solo via motorbike or car to the temple.

High tide: The tide has a substantial say in how well your visit to the temple goes. The easiest way to ensure you get to the temple at the ideal time is to check the latest tide scheduling with your hotel before making any plans.

Facilities: 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, and 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.

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 daily. 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. The following are three great choices that can accommodate varying travel budgets.

Best budget option: The Swell – Hostel

Aerial view of The swell surf hostel
The Swell Bali / Facebook

With dormitory rooms going as cheap as $6 a night and private rooms at a reasonable $31, The Swell Hostel is your budget option for visiting Tanah Lot. Tanah Lot is only a short eight-minute drive away, and the accommodation features an on-site restaurant, bar, and swimming pool.

Best mid-range option: Coco Verde Bali Resort

Coco Verde Bali Resort roominterior
Coco Verde Bali Resort / Booking.com

Coco Verde Bali Resort is an exceptional hotel near the Tanah Lot Temple complex 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 hiking, cycling, and horseback riding.

Best luxury option: Villa 58 Tanah Lot

Villa 58 Tanah Lot Pool With Bed-Chair
Villa 58 Tanah Lot / 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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Other Things to Do Near Tanah Lot Temple

Tanah Lot Temple is only one of thousands of temples that call Bali home. Moreover, there are many other things, non-temple related, to do near Tanah Lot Temple.

Visit More Offshore Temples

Tanah Lot is only one of the many temples 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 unique history and mythology.

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

A convenient pathway connects Tanah 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.

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

Melasti Beach Side Waterfall

Melasti Beach Side Waterfall
Bayu Stiawan / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

The waterfall is a 15-minute 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 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 Temple Beach
Nikolai Sorokin / Adobe Stock

Most tourist attractions 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.

A black sandy coastline characterizes Tanah Lot Beach. 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 looking for the best items and art 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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Go Beach Hopping

Man Surfing on Padang Beach, Bali
Hagen Production / Adobe Stock

All along the Balinese coast lie numerous beaches in addition to those already mentioned. Bali is known for having great water-based activity options like prime surf and scuba-diving opportunities.

So, why not go for a morning surf at Canguu, just a half-hour drive away? Chill out on the beach for lunch, or scoot along the coast at your pleasure, and then go to Tanah Lot for sunset.

FAQs

What is the myth of Tanah Lot?

Visiting Tanah Lot Temple isn’t a good idea if traveling as an unmarried couple. It is said that if an unmarried couple visits the temple, they doom their relationship prospects. So, you might think twice about visiting with your boyfriend/girlfriend if you don’t want your relationship to end in disaster.

What is the significance of Tanah Lot?

Tanah Lot temple is a famous Hindu sea temple of Bali dedicated to Bhatara Segara, the sea god. It is said that to protect his temple, he took his sash and created a poisonous snake as its guardian. The snake is still believed to protect the temple from any evil intruders.

Since the temple was constructed in the 15th Century, it has been well-maintained and remains in good overall condition. To this day, it remains a site of significant religious importance to the local people.

What time should I go to Tanah Lot?

Tanah Lot is a great spot to visit at any time of day, but the Tanah Lot Temple sunset is truly something. But remember that if you plan to visit at sunset, this is quite a popular time, so be prepared for crowds, especially if visiting in the high season.

Time your visit an hour before sunset so you can enjoy walking around in good lighting before the sun falls below the horizon. If you would rather avoid the crowds, try getting to the temple early in the morning to beat the tour busses for a more peaceful experience.

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