Exploring the Beauty & History of Tanah Lot: Bali’s Iconic Sea Temple

Located on the southwest coast of Bali, Indonesia, Tanah Lot is a sea temple that has become one of Bali’s most popular tourist destinations. Its picturesque sunset views and unique position on a rocky outcrop in the middle of the ocean have contributed to its popularity. Built in the 16th century, the temple is dedicated to the Balinese sea gods, and its name “Tanah Lot” translates to “Land in the Sea” in Balinese.

According to legend, the temple was founded by the Hindu priest Nirartha, who was guided to the location by a giant snake that he believed to be a manifestation of the sea god. He spent the night on the rocky outcrop where the temple now stands.

Visitors can access the temple via a bridge that links the outcrop to the mainland. The temple complex features several shrines and structures, and a traditional market selling souvenirs and other items. While it can get crowded, especially at sunset, Tanah Lot remains a must-see destination for anyone traveling to Bali.

Tanah Lot Temple History

As per the local folklore, Nirartha discovered Tanah Lot temple’s site after encountering a giant snake that he believed to be the sea god’s manifestation. He spent the night on the rocky outcrop and was inspired to construct the temple on the same spot.

Tanah Lot, which means “Land in the Sea” in Balinese, is renowned for its exceptional location on a rocky outcrop amidst the ocean. The temple is considered one of Bali’s most significant sea temples and forms a series of seven temples along the southwest coast, protecting the island from evil spirits.

Over the years, Tanah Lot temple has undergone numerous renovations and restorations. In the 1980s, the temple was in danger of collapsing due to erosion, prompting the Indonesian government to undertake a substantial restoration project to stabilize its foundation. Today, the temple complex includes various shrines, structures, and a traditional market selling souvenirs.

Tanah Lot Attire

There is no specific dress code for visiting Tanah Lot temple, but it is recommended to dress modestly out of respect for the temple’s religious significance. As a general guideline, both men and women are advised to cover their shoulders and knees. It is also recommended to remove shoes before entering the temple complex, as is customary in Balinese culture. If you plan to visit during the rainy season or when the weather is humid, lightweight and breathable clothing is recommended. Additionally, it is advisable to bring a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen, as the temple’s location on a rocky outcrop can make it quite hot and exposed to the sun.

Best Time to Visit Tanah Lot

The recommended time to visit Tanah Lot temple is during Bali’s dry season from April to September, when the weather is mostly dry and sunny with minimal rainfall, providing an excellent opportunity to explore the temple and appreciate the stunning views. The calm sea during this season also makes it easier to access the temple via the bridge.

June to August is Bali’s peak tourism season, leading to high crowds, especially during sunset hours. To avoid the masses, it’s best to visit early in the morning or late afternoon, when the weather is still pleasant, and the crowds are fewer. Since Bali has a tropical climate, rainfall can occur at any time of the year. Visitors should check the weather forecast beforehand and bring appropriate clothing or an umbrella in case of rain.

Tanah Lot Sunset

The Tanah Lot temple complex is renowned for its stunning sunset vistas over the Indian Ocean. Situated on the west coast of Bali, the temple complex is perfectly positioned for a panoramic view of the sun setting. There are several spots within the complex from which visitors can enjoy the sunset, including the main temple area, the cliffside area, and the nearby beach. The sunset views at Tanah Lot are considered to be some of the most breathtaking in Bali, and many visitors make a point of experiencing this natural spectacle. It’s advisable to arrive early to secure a good viewing spot, as it can get quite crowded during sunset hours.

Tanah Lot Cave

Although Tanah Lot temple itself does not feature a cave, visitors can explore the nearby Batu Bolong Cave. This small cave is located adjacent to the Batu Bolong temple and is perched on a rocky cliff with views of the ocean. Accessible only during low tide, the cave can be reached by descending a flight of stairs. While the cave is not particularly large, it offers an exceptional vantage point for admiring the ocean and is a popular spot for taking photos. It’s important to note that the Batu Bolong Cave is a separate attraction from the Tanah Lot temple complex.

Tanah Lot Timing

The Tanah Lot temple complex is open daily from 7:00am to 7:00pm, which means the last admission is at 6:45pm. However, it’s important to note that these times are subject to change, and it’s always best to double-check the official website or contact the temple authorities to confirm the latest opening and closing times. Additionally, some areas of the temple complex may close earlier than others, so it’s a good idea to plan your visit accordingly to ensure you have ample time to explore the entire site.

Tanah Lot Fire Dance

The Tanah Lot temple complex presents traditional Balinese dance performances that are held in the open-air amphitheater situated inside the complex. These performances usually take place in the late afternoon or early evening and showcase a variety of Balinese dance styles, such as the Legong, Kecak, and Barong dances. Accompanied by live music, the performances narrate stories from Balinese folklore and Hindu mythology. The shows are a popular attraction for tourists who visit Tanah Lot and provide an opportunity to appreciate Bali’s vibrant cultural heritage. It is recommended to check the performance schedule in advance and arrive early to secure a good seat.

Tanah Lot Entrance Fee

The entrance fee to Tanah Lot temple for foreign tourists was IDR 60,000 (approximately USD 4.10) per person. However, please note that prices may have changed since then, so it’s always a good idea to check the most recent information before planning your visit. Additionally, there may be additional fees for parking, use of cameras or tripods, and other services or activities within the temple complex.

Tanah Lot Gate

The main entrance to the Tanah Lot temple complex is adorned with a striking Balinese gate, known as “candi bentar” in the local language. This beautifully carved gate is painted in vibrant colors and is a popular spot for taking photographs. Passing through the gate, visitors enter the main courtyard of the temple complex, where they can explore the various shrines and structures, take in the breathtaking ocean views, and witness traditional Balinese dance performances. The candi bentar holds significant cultural and religious value in Balinese Hindu temples, representing the division between the profane outer world and the sacred inner sanctum of the temple.

Tanah Lot Holy Water

Within the Tanah Lot temple complex, there is a natural spring that has been revered as holy for centuries. The water from this spring is believed to possess healing powers and is used for purification rituals and blessings. Visitors to the temple can take part in these rituals by receiving a blessing from a priest who sprinkles the holy water on them. The water is also used in many ceremonies and festivals held throughout the year. The spring and the holy water hold great significance for the local Balinese people, and visitors are requested to show respect and comply with any directions provided by the temple staff.

Tanah Lot High Tide

During high tide at Tanah Lot temple, the temple and the connecting bridge are surrounded by water, creating a picturesque scene. The waves crashing against the base of the temple also create a dramatic and impressive sight. However, during high tide, access to the temple may be restricted for safety reasons, and visitors may not be able to walk on the beach or explore the surrounding areas. It’s important to check the tide schedule and plan your visit accordingly to ensure that you can enjoy the temple and its surroundings to the fullest.

Tanah Lot Holy Snakes

Local folklore in Tanah Lot tells of a mystical snake that resides in a nearby cave and is believed to be sacred. The snake, known as “ularan” or “ular-lar” in the local language, is said to protect the temple from malevolent spirits and intruders. According to the legend, the snake was originally a scarf worn by a powerful Hindu priest, which was then transformed into a snake by divine intervention to safeguard the temple. While many visitors to Tanah Lot hope to spot the holy snake, sightings are rare as it is known to be elusive. The snake holds great significance in Balinese Hindu culture as a symbol of divine connection and protection.

Tanah Lot vs Uluwatu

Tanah Lot and Uluwatu are both popular tourist destinations located on the west coast of Bali and are known for their temples and stunning ocean views.

Tanah Lot is known for its iconic temple perched on a rocky outcrop in the sea, offering beautiful sunset views over the ocean. It also has a beautiful Balinese gate, traditional dance performances, and a nearby beach. However, it can get quite crowded, and the tide can limit access to certain areas of the temple complex.

Uluwatu, on the other hand, is located on a high cliff overlooking the Indian Ocean, offering panoramic views of the coastline. Its temple, Pura Luhur Uluwatu, is one of Bali’s most significant sea temples and is home to a population of macaque monkeys. Visitors can enjoy traditional Balinese dance performances, explore the temple and watch the sunset over the ocean. Uluwatu is also known for its world-class surf breaks, including Padang Padang and Bingin beaches.

In summary, both Tanah Lot and Uluwatu offer beautiful ocean views, traditional Balinese temples, and cultural performances. However, Tanah Lot is more known for its iconic temple on a rock in the sea, while Uluwatu offers panoramic cliffside views, surf breaks, and monkey sightings.

What to do at Tanah Lot

There are plenty of activities to do and sights to see in Tanah Lot, including:

  • Visit the Tanah Lot temple complex: This is the main attraction and a must-visit destination for anyone exploring Bali. The temple is situated on a rocky outcrop, and the stunning ocean views are breathtaking.
  • Watch traditional Balinese dance performances: The open-air amphitheater within the temple complex offers visitors the opportunity to witness traditional Balinese dance performances.
  • Explore nearby beaches: There are many beautiful beaches in the Tanah Lot area, such as Batu Bolong Beach and Echo Beach, where you can relax and enjoy the sun.
  • Participate in purification rituals: The temple’s natural spring is believed to have healing properties, and visitors can take part in purification rituals and receive blessings.
  • Enjoy the sunset: Tanah Lot is well-known for its magnificent sunset views over the Indian Ocean, making it a popular spot to watch the sun go down.
  • Walk along the coastal path: A scenic coastal path runs along the shoreline, offering stunning views of the ocean and surrounding landscape.

Nearby Places to Visit at Tanah Lot

There are several nearby places to visit in the area surrounding Tanah Lot, including:

  1. Batu Bolong Temple: A temple located next to the Batu Bolong Cave, which offers stunning views of the surrounding ocean.
  2. Taman Ayun Temple: A beautiful temple complex in Mengwi, featuring a large garden and a series of fishponds.
  3. Bali Butterfly Park: A park located in Tabanan that showcases a variety of butterfly species and other insects.
  4. Jatiluwih Rice Terraces: A UNESCO World Heritage site located in Tabanan, featuring stunning rice paddies and mountain views.
  5. Sangeh Monkey Forest: A sanctuary for Balinese long-tailed macaques, located in Sangeh village.
  6. Mengwi Traditional Market: A bustling market in the town of Mengwi, where visitors can find a variety of local goods and souvenirs.

These are just a few of the many nearby places to visit in the area around Tanah Lot.

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One Reply to “Exploring the Beauty & History of Tanah Lot: Bali’s Iconic Sea Temple”

  1. Nilkanth Patil

    The Tanah Lot Temple looks so beautiful that it can really turn any atheist into a believer. Thanks to the Indonesian government for restoring the temple and preserving the ancient treasure.


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