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Exploring Tranquility: My Journey to Ulan Danu Beratan Temple in Bali

Updated: May 11, 2023

No one can visit the enchanting island of Bali without noticing the many, many temples. From small, private family temples to the grand directional temples, it is impossible to avoid being captivated by the mystical allure and rich cultural heritage. One of the most famous, and not to be missed, is the Ulan Danu Beratan temple in the Bedugul highlands. This incredible temple is a peaceful sanctuary located on the edges and within Lake Beratan.

This blog will provide practical information regarding transportation and tips for visiting, will delve into the rich history and cultural significance, as well as lead you on a walk through the complex of Ulan Danu Beratan Temple. This temple with its towering meru roofs and vibrant carvings is certain to stir your heart and soul.


How to Get There

There are no public transportation options. There is a shuttle service operated by Perama Tours which will get you from Ubud to Munduk (200 000 IDR each way). From Munduk you would need to get a taxi for the last 20 km to the temple. There are several different operators offering a day trip with additional stops at Warangiri Hidden Hills (a Bali Swing), Banyumala waterfalls, and Jatiluwih Rice Terrace (approximately 700 000 IDR per person through Viator with additional admission costs). Another option is to rent a scooter or car to drive yourself or hire a private driver. Private drivers will usually charge between 600 000 to 800 000 (car cost for up to 4 people) for the day and will make as many stops as you wish.

The temple is at 1200 meters elevation and it tends to be relatively cooler. It is a temple complex, so appropriate clothing is required in the sacred areas. Visitors are asked to cover their upper legs. Sarongs and sashes are available at the entrance. Even if your legs are covered, you may need to wear a sash. It's a fairly large area, so comfortable shoes are a must. There are places where you can buy food, drinks, and snacks. Admission is 75 000 IDR and the site is open from 07:00 to 19:00 daily, although it's important to note that on important religious days, it may close to visitors early.


This temple definitely attracts those folks seeking beautiful photos in stunning locations for social media purposes and seems to be on every multi-location day trip itinerary -- on those listed as "Cultural" tours and as "Instagram" tours.


Yes, there are many "Instagram Tours". Every Balinese person supporting tourism knows how to operate your telephone camera like a pro. I had a lot of laughs as I was being coached into posing and told where to stand or when I had to ask for my phone back so I could shoot what I was seeing! (I was experimenting on this trip with having most of my photos be phone shots, more on that in another post).


I chose to book a private driver and we created daily itineraries that suited me and my interests best. However, this was our first day together and he was in full photographer mode thinking I wanted what he later called "Instagram Bali". As I asked a million questions about the beliefs, rituals, and the history of the places we visited, he realized I wanted a guide more than a photographer. We developed a great relationship over the next 3 weeks, as he became my go-to man. (to contact through Instagram click on Bali Kevala Tour information above)

An Overview of Pura Ulan Danu Beratan

Pura Ulan Danu Beratan (Bratan) Temple, is an iconic temple seen in many social media photos, tourist brochures, and postcards. It has earned a global reputation for its architectural grandeur, stunning location, and spiritual significance as one of the nine directional temples on the island of Bali. Its name translates to "above the lake" and the temple is seen as a protector of the lake and its surroundings. The temple is dedicated to the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva as well as the goddess Dewi Danu, the goddess of the lake.

The architecture blends Balinese and Javanese influences. The meru towers are multi-tiered, ornately carved, and brightly coloured and visually stunning against the beauty of the lake and surrounding mountains.

This water temple is a sacred place where devout Hindus gather to pray, make offerings, and participate in important ceremonies but it is also a vital part of the water and irrigation system ensuring that the people and the farms always have an adequate water supply.

The History & Origin Story

According to folklore, the powerful King Mayadenawa had neglected the traditional spiritual practices and did not follow the Hindu practices required to maintain a harmonious relationship with nature. The gods decided to punish the King by creating a terrible drought which caused crops to fail, rivers to run dry and great suffering amongst his people. The people called on Dewi Danu, the goddess of the lake, for help. Dewi Danu descended from the heavens and turned herself into a beautiful woman who seduced the King to gain his trust while she gathered important information about his source of power.

Dewi Danu Statues


Dewi Danu discovered that the King's power was his hair.She stealthily cut his hair while he was sleeping, rendering him weak enough for the people to successfully revolt and end his tyrannical reign. The rain and waters returned, the drought ended, and the rice crops thrived. The people built a temple on the site to honour Dewi Danu and her role of guardian and provider of water.

The current temple was built in 1633-34 CE and is maintained by the people of the four villages surrounding the temple. This temple was built after the local king meditated beside the lake and saw a vision that convinced him that a grand temple should be built. There have been multiple renovations and additions through the years. As the temple has grown, so has its importance to the people all over the island of Bali.


The Temple Complex

Balinese Pura (temples) are open-air places of worship within square, walled compounds. The walls usually have several ornate and intricately decorated entry gates. A typical temple has three separated courtyards. The outermost courtyard is for secular activities such as meetings, performances, and eating. The middle courtyard is where offerings are prepared, while the inner courtyard is where the merus (shrines) are located and the ceremonies happen. These square shrines have multiple thatched roofs, with the number of roofs corresponding to the status of the deity. The number of roofs is always an odd number. The Ulan Danu Beratan Temple has five Hindu temple compounds and one Buddhist Stupa.

Buddhist Stupa

The first thing you'll see upon entering the temple complex will be the giant Buddhist stupa that shows that this land was important in the pre-Hindu times. In Bali, religious sites often include both Buddhist and Hindu structures, beliefs, and elements of both religions. The stupa faces south and is located outside the main area of the Ulun Danu Beratan Temple complex.


The section of the temple that really draws visitor attention is the two merus that seem to float on the water. The larger 11-tiered meru is dedicated to Vishnu, the Supreme God and Preserver of both worlds. The smaller 3-tiered meru is dedicated to Shiva, the Supreme God and the Destroyer and Transformer. The merus reflect in the waters of Lake Beratan and provide a truly breathtaking image of tranquillity and divinity. Once again, I was awed by the dedication of the Balinese people to their beliefs about the worship of interconnectedness and harmony between people and their gods, to other people and to nature.

I thoroughly enjoyed just following the pathways to discover the various parts of the complex. The gardens and water features are beautifully maintained and full of colour and lush greenery. There are strategically placed benches that invited me to sit and simply drink in the atmosphere and beauty. Every detail has been designed with meticulous detail, including the stone pavement which is adorned with intricate patterns and a subtle elegance.

I was delighted by the beautiful water fountains and the gentle and soothing sounds of trickling water trickling down the carved stone. I encountered several small shrines dedicated to various deities and spirits, each inspiring contemplation and reflection.

My visit to Ulan Danu Beratan Temple was a beautiful and culturally immersive day. Every moment of my meandering from the merus to the pathways was a journey of discovery, wonder, and reverence. When visiting Bali, don't miss this remarkable place. I encourage you to embark on your own pilgrimage of discovery. Take time to reflect, connect, and immerse yourself in the beauty.

 

Thanks for meandering with me! Please let me know your thoughts, ideas, questions, and feedback in the comments. Share the link with a travelling friend. Become a member/subscriber (It's free!) to get notified of new content and to gain access to our (women's) FB travel discussion group. *Note to commenters: to comment using your name/website you need to have an account and be logged in.

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