Bali’s Temples

One of Bali's many nicknames is 'The Island of The Thousand Temples', which is a slight understatement: everywhere you look you find temples. The Department of Religion has catalogued at least eleven thousand temples - small and large, local and regional. This figure doesn't include the thousands of shrines the farmers erect on their fields, nor the many domestic temples, that are kept in the house of every Balinese family. The Balinese call a shrine palinggih, which simply means "place" or "seat" and refers to any sort of temporary or permanent place toward which devotions and offerings are made.

Balinese temples are not closed buildings, but rectangular courtyards open to the sky, with rows of shrines and altars dedicated to various gods and deities. Each temple occupies its own place in the intricate hierachy of Balinese temples, with the Mother Temple in Besakih on top. The temple itself is not considered sacred, but exists as a residence for holy spirits - either ancestors or Hindu deities.

The gods are not thought to be present in the temples except on the dates of the temple's festivals, when the Gods and ancestors visit their human worshippers or descendants. On these festival days the congregation of each temple assembles to pray to and entertain the visiting deities. During the length of their stay, the gods and their companions are symbolically bathed, put to bed and entertained with dances and other shows. Meanwhile members of the temple come and go over three or more days to get their share of holy water sprinkled over them and their offerings during the collective prayers. Most Balinese families belong to a half dozen or more temples and devote several weeks of labor each year to maintaining the temples and preparing them for numerous festivals.

Damai has many temples. You are welcome to visit them on any time of the day, or you can accompany one of our staff during the Temple Walk, when offerings are made in each one. You can also visit the village temple in our village of Kayu Putih, either by yourself or on the Village Walk. And we of course also recommend a visit to the spectacular Ulun Danu Temple, the Temple of The Goddess of The Lake, on the shores of Lake Bratan.