Pura Tirta Empul
If you’re looking to wash away sin or just restore your mind, body, and soul, then Pura Tirta Empul is a must-see in central Bali. It’s one of the most popular temples on the island with the name translating to ‘holy water spring’ for good reason. The temple complex is approximately 9.3 miles (15 kms) north of Ubud’s center. You can take a spectacular route through the rice terraces of Tegalalang to participate in the gentle 12-step cleansing ritual that has fascinated locals and tourists alike for generations.
The temple is quite close to Tampaksiring Village in Manukaya and is clearly marked. If you’re feeling adventurous, the drive from Ubud on a scooter takes only 30 minutes and is relatively simple compared to the busy traffic in the more populated areas of Bali.
Tirta Empul was built in the name of Vishnu, the Hindu god of water in 926 A.D. and the Balinese have worshiped here for over a thousand years. Though it’s a busy temple, upon entry you’ll find yourself steeped in the sound of prayer. Visitors are instinctively quiet as they make their way through the 12 cleansing stations and return to pray at a spot where the spring bubbles up under the earth, or at shrines built to honor Shiva, Vishnu, Braham, Indra, and the holy Mount Batur. The scent of incense, the splash of cleansing waters and the towering strength of the Holy Banyan tree in the courtyard create an eerie and deeply spiritual experience.
This could be why a palace was erected overlooking Tirta Empul in 1954 for Indonesia’s first President, Soekarno. The leader ushered Indonesia through the bloody colonial wars in its move for independence from the Netherlands and he often used the temple as a way to recharge throughout his controversial term in office.
The water temple is open every day from 9 AM until 5 PM and costs around 20,000 IDR to enter. It’s recommended you bring a change of clothes if you’re going to cleanse as you must remain fully clothed while in the Temple. Sarongs are mandatory for both men and women.