I have posted on Bali before as I was first blessed with an opportunity to visit the island in 2006. I had earlier written about its Beaches, the handicraft centre and peaceful paddy fields of Ubud and on Balinese Culture. Do visit the links to enjoy even more photos and info.
As early as the 9th Century AD, it was already recorded that Buddhism and Hinduism had become major influences in what is today, Indonesia. The height of Hinduism’s influence was during the reign of the Hindu Empire of Majapahit (circa 1290-1500). Bali fell to the power of the Majapahit empire in 1343. Later, as the Majapahit Empire began to crumble under pressure from the rise of many small Islamic Kingdoms in Java and finally falling in 1515, many dedicated Hindu believers including priests, craftsmen, artisans and nobles fled to the sanctuary of Bali. This exodus of talent into Bali helped create Bali’s golden age and its current rich religious, cultural and artistic heritage.
However, Bali’s Hinduism is quite different from other forms of Hinduism. It has developed its own unique form as it blended Hinduism, Buddhism, animism and local beliefs in spirits and demons. In their belief system, good and evil (or positive and negative) is always at odds but neither will triumph over the other, instead what is sought after is a balance or equilibrium point between the two forces. So they seek this balance in their elaborate rituals and in their many temples or puras.
For today’s post, I would like to share with you, my experience of visiting Pura Taman Ayun in the foothills of Western Bali. It is located about 18 km north-west of Denpasar and about 8km south-west of Ubud. Pura Taman Ayun was built in 1634 by the Raja of Mengwi, I Gusti Agung Putu and is known as a ‘Pura Kawiten’ or family temple. This is a special temple where the deified ancestors of the Raja Dynasty of Mengwi and important gods of other temples are honored.
It also has the reputation of being one of Bali’s prettiest temples and is known as the “Garden Temple”. In fact, “Taman Ayun” actually means “beautiful garden”.
Key features of the Temple is that it is surrounded by an outer moat. There is also an inner moat and a low wall which surrounds the inner temple complex. Tourists are not permitted into the inner complex but the low wall is not an obstacle to good views of the inner complex and there are also a couple of vantage points. To the front of the temple are some well kept open grass fields and to the rear are some more natural forest and gardens. Very picturesque with the water filled moat on either side. It was one of the more peaceful temple sites. Few tourist venture to the garden and forest at the back which makes it quite a serene experience.