An Island with Thousand Temple
Temple History


The origin of the term ‘Pura’ as a place of worship for Hindus people in Bali (Indonesia) was existed during the Reign of Dalem in Bali. The term Kahyangan or Hyang was known previously. Before the term ‘Pura’ was known to show a place of worship for Hindus people in Bali. Even during The Ancient in Bali Age the term ‘Ulon’ was used that means holy place or a place used for connecting with God. This thing was written in Sukawana ancient inscription AI (882 M).
So was in Kehen Temple inscription the term Hyang was also mentioned. According to palm manuscript of Usana Dewa, it was Empu Kuturan who taught Hindus people how to make “Kahyangan Dewa” (shrine for God) as he did in east Java. Empu Kuturan was a Hindu Figure who came from Java to Bali during the Reign of Marakata and the youngest child of King Udayana.
The arrival of Empu Kuturan in Bali had changed religious life. It was Empu Kuturan who taught people how to build Sad Kahyangan Jagat, Kahyangan Catur Lokapala, Kahyangan Rwabhineda in Bali. It was he who expanded Besakih Temple into by building Meru Gedong, etc. He also taught the building of Kahyangan Tiga in every customary village in Bali. Besides teaching how to build temple physically, he also taught about spiritual for example: kinds of ceremony, kinds of ‘Pedagingan’, shrine etc as mentioned in Dewa Tattwa palm manuscript.
The uniqueness of Bali Island could be seen from its cultural aspects such as the great number of Hindu religious and Balinese tradition ceremonies. There are many incidental ceremonies like: funeral, cremation, marriage and others, those could not be scheduled regularly, while on the other hand Temple ceremony or local people call “Odalan” is a temple’s anniversary celebration, held regularly according to the traditional Hindu calendar system.
During a Temple’s ceremony the whole villagers around it are totally involved since its preparation few days or weeks before. Temple ceremony commonly lasts for three days, and the greater one last for 11 days or even 42 days. A good ti1me to attend the temple ceremony is in the afternoon till evening
where you could see young women with beautiful temple offerings on their heads in long parade lead to the temple, mass praying, traditional dances or performance and much other ritual activity.
To get into the temple during its ceremony days, Temple custom strictly should be put on, while for other days one should wear polite dress with Temple sash (often viable at every front of the temple) circle around waist . It all means to show respect ness to God as well as to local tradition which ensure a safe and enjoyable visit. Temple in Bali is called Pura, which translates “literally as “place”, and the temple can be classified into four character of the temple they are:
1. Public Temple 2. Territorial Temple
3. Functional Temple 4. Family Temple


The main characteristic of these types of temples is their use to worship God, Hyang Widhi (Brahman) in this various forms or ‘Ista Dewata’ by Hindus community not only those from Bali but also from somewhere else. Public Temples are also called ‘Khayangan Jagat Temples’ with their typical and general characteristics such as
(1). Pura Agung Besakih, (2). Pura Ulun Danu, (3). Pura Lempuyang, (4).Pura Luhur Andakasa, 5). Pura Goa Lawah, (6). Pura Luhur Uluwatu, (7). Pura Luhur Watukaru, (8). Pura Puncak Mangu, (9). Pura Pusering Jagat
Other temples that are also grouped into public temples besides being used to worship God in these various manifestations, they are also used to honor mighty of The Great Priest or Holy Priest, due to all Hindus people feel in debt with these Priests for their merits to have given guidance on Hindus Learning, in their Holy trips to Bali. For instance holy trip done by Danghyang Nirartha or also known as Abhiseka Danghyang Dwijendra or Ida Pedanda Shakti Bawu Rawuh, because of His role and position as ‘Dang Adi Guru Loka’ (the Priest) at certain places he had passed through during such holy trip, he built temples. Temples that are grouped into Dang Khayangan are;
(1). Pura Purancak , (2). Pura Rambut Siwi, (3). Pura Srijong, (4). Pura-Pura Luhur Pakendungan, (5). Pura Luhur Tanah Lot, (6). Pura Pulaki, (7). Pura Ponjok Batu, (8). Pura Sakenan, (9). Pura Peti Tenget, (10). Pura Luhur Uluwatu.


These types of temples are those built as territorial unity, functioned as places of worship for a group of people bound by one territory in a community, called customary village.
Customary village typically has 3 sets of temples called Kahyangan Tiga temples or Kahyangan Desa Temples to worship Trimurthi, they are:


Pura Puseh (temple of origin), for honoring the ancestral deities who were the founders of the village. Tend to be located towards the kaja (upstream) end of villages, are associated with the God Wisnu, and are dedicated to remembering the founders of villages. Dewa Wisnu is also known as “the sustainer of life or preserver” because he has the ability to incarnate as an avatar (God-Man), move freely between the heaven of the Gods and the Earth of humans, and he often appears to save the world by realigning it to the divine.


Pura Desa (village temple), for honoring the deities who guard the welfare of the village. Tends to be located in the middle of villages, are associated with the God Brahma, and are places where community councils meet to pray and govern. Dewa Brahma is also known as “the creator” because he is a reflection of the creative consciousness upon which both artistic creativity (which is very an important part of Balinese villages) and creation itself is founded.


Pura Dalem, the temple for honoring the cremated dead who have not yet been fully purified into deities. This Temple tend to be located towards the kelod (downstream) end of villages, are associated with the God Siwa, and have graveyards. Dewa Siwa is also known as “the destroyer/dissolver” because his spiritual function is to destroy negativity in the world. Dewa Siwa prepares dead people for reincarnation by judging whether or not a person’s karma (actions) has been bad or good. Dewa Siwa destroys negativity by punishing people that have.



Functional Temples have special characteristic of which the people (the caretaker of the temple) are those who have the same profession for their living such as; farmer, trader and fisherman. Examples of Functional Temples are as follows;

a.     In Bali farming is one of main jobs to earn a living both for rice field and farm. Having bound temple called Subak Temple or Ulun Empelan Temple, Ulun Danu Temple, Ulun Suwi Temple, Bedugul Temple, Alasangker Temple, Alas Harum temple and etc.

b.     For Balinese people who have profession as trader in the community, they have bound temple called Melanting Temple that is commonly built at the market where sale and purchase transaction happens.

c.     For those whose jobs are fishermen, the bound temple is called Segara Temple, which is commonly built at the beach side where fishermen make the sea and beach as the place to make a living.



This temple has characteristic determined by Ancestor bound based on birth Line or generation, for example, a set of shires that is called Dadya Temple, is used by a group of people who come from the same ancestors therefore in Balinese community there is the term “Tunggalan Dadya.” Temples are the meetings points of humans and gods. There are temples for almost all aspects of Balinese life, including those for ancestors, rice fields, and the village.
Bali has more temples than houses, as every house shrine is a fully fledged temple. Add to these the myriad temple – founding deities, to lord Siwa, to Lake Batur and too many, many others and it becomes clear why Bali is called “Island Of Gods” Typically every major temple is divided into court yards separated by beautifully carved gates.
Usually the temple has three courtyards:

1.     First courtyard is Jaba (outer courtyard) Ceremonies to appease the evil spirits. At the first courtyard is the Wantilan pavilion where the cockfighting is usually going on.

2.     Second courtyard is Jaba Tengah (middle courtyard) often includes a Gambelan pavilion and the priest’s meeting pavilions

3.      The third courtyard is Jeroan (the holiest part of the temple) where most of the shrine takes place.