The Holy Springs of Tirta Empul, Bali

Here’s the next part of my Bali trip! After it started raining on the Kintamani Highlands, we had to drive back down for another hour. We stopped by the Tirta Empul temple springs on the way. Built in 962 AD, which makes this place over a thousand years old, it was built to honour the Hindu god of water, Vishnu, and is also famous for it’s clear spring waters flowing from the mountains, which the local Balinese Hindus use for purification. Entrance is free, but they accept donations.

Before entering the main shrine, there is a smaller shrine of black granite stones and carvings, solely for devotees – so tourists aren’t allowed inside this area.

I’m guessing this is some form of Balinese. It doesn’t look like regular Indonesian and I can only recognise a few words. Pura is temple, and I’m guessing “tata titi” = tatatertib (rules to follow), penguning = pengunjung (visitor) and such. Very different from the formal Bahasa Indonesia. But just like how the Chinese people have different dialects like Canto, Mandarin, Hakka, I’m sure Indonesians have different ones too. Especially since their islands are so vast and scattered.

A devotee offering up prayers at the mini shrine. The boxes on the altar are prayer boxes woven out of leaves and filled with flowers, incense and sweets.

A common sight in Balinese temples is the Balinese umbrellas, which are often colourful and hung with pretty tassels. Known as ‘tedung’ in the local dialect, it gives the meaning ‘to guard’. Used in ceremonial parades, they are positioned in alignment with shrines oriented towards the sacred Balinese mountain, Gunung Agung (Majestic Mountain).

It is said that the origin of the umbrellas came from a 13th century Chinese princess visiting Java on a merchant ship. She brought an umbrella to protect her skin from the sun. This was then used and incorporated into the then Majapahit Hindu kingdom, which used to span most of Indonesia, including Bali. After Islam spread to the islands, Bali remained a sacred sanctuary for this ancient religion, and is still the predominant religion on the island today. 

The main hall, which was huge. Most Balinese temples are coloured in orange, grey and black. The previous Pura Puseh in Batuan had a similar colour scheme. 

Beautiful detailing at an altar. I was so frustrated with my phone camera because it couldn’t take good pictures in bright sunlight – kept turning up overexposed.

But anyway, look at the details. Must have been super difficult creating this with the tools back then. I think the top carving is the mythical Hindu bird, the Garuda, while the bottom is the Barong, a mythical Balinese Hindu lion which represents the forces of good.

A very pretty box with unknown contents. I am continually amazed at how creative these craftsmen are. 

We finally came to the springs. The waters were a pristine, dark turqoise. Lily pads floated on the surface, while fish swam in the pond. Garuda carvings spewed water out of their mouths. Devotees dipped their heads in the water, which is supposed to have curative properties and is meant for purification. I hadn’t brought a change of clothes because our guide Toto didn’t mention anything about water. Would’ve liked to take a dip.

Everyone had to wear a sarong before entering the temple, to show respect and make sure you’re properly covered. 

Stacks of prayer boxes offered up during prayer time.

Local devotees in traditional Balinese wear. Men wore shorter sarongs around themselves, much like our Malaysian Baju Melayu. The women wore longer ones tightly wrapped around their waists. The men also had clean white shirts and caps.

Prayer session in progress. A priest leads at the front.

We also came across a huge pond full of carp. They looked really well fed.

On our way out, we had to pass by a MAZE of souvenir shops. It was like a labyrinth.

If you think the sales people at your place are aggressive, they are nothing like the Balinese sales girls manning these souvenir shops. They literally shove items in your face and won’t stop pestering you til you buy something from them. We found it difficult to say no and ended up buying a tonne of souvenirs we didn’t need.

There were also a lot of penises. Idk what the obsession over penises is in Bali. I’ve seen these wooden ones all over the place. There are also the colourful, painted ones that come in red, blue, gold, and the ones with patterns over them. There are big penises and small penises, bottle opener penises, keychain penises.

I mean, I could get one for fun, but then it’d be hard trying to explain it at customs. Heh.

We’re almost at an end of our Bali trip. Next post is gonna be a revisit to the famous Kuta beach. I finally got a Hard Rock Cafe Bali pic. Yay


4 thoughts on “The Holy Springs of Tirta Empul, Bali

    1. Oh, our tour guide did caution us about that! And my whole family wears glasses so we avoided going to the temple with a lot of monkeys.


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