The 17th century temple of Pura Ulun Danu in Bedugul Bali is a complex of four temples each dedicated to Hindu gods Siva, Lakshmi, Vishnu and Brahma and nine small temples, the whole dedicated to the Balinese goddess of water, rivers and lakes Devi Batari Ulun Danu. As it is the main temple of the ‘subak’ irrigation system of Bali, it is almost as important as Pura Besakih, the mother temple. Appropriately the temple stands on the shore of Lake Bratan that provides irrigation water to the entirety of central Bali. Sheraton Bali Kuta Resort, a beach resort in Bali Kuta is about 2 hours drive from Bedugul.
Other than its importance to rice farmers on the island, the temple is also one of the most identifiable as its 11 storey black thatched ‘meru’ or pagoda has been featured in international promotional material and national postage stamps for many years. The iconic structure standing on its own tiny island can be reached only by boat or at low tide and is visited only for ceremonial purposes. Located in a scenic plateau 1239 meters above sea level, the pagoda and the temple complex are set off beautifully by the lake, misty mountains in the distance and a well maintained garden. The temple complex hosts traditional ceremonies once every six months to celebrate its founding, the huge Ngusaba ke Dasa annually and small ceremonies throughout the year to appease the goddess and to ensure irrigation water, prosperity of the area and to establish a harmonious balance between nature and the environment around the lake. Offerings of lavish amounts of food in every form, festive clothing and traditional decorations enliven these ceremonies. Hiring a canoe is the best way to visit a smaller ‘meru’ on the shores of the lake. As for visiting the temple, the best time is said to be early in the morning when the area is at its most serene.
Pushpitha Wijesinghe is an experienced independent freelance writer. He specializes in providing a wide variety of content and articles related to the travel hospitality industry.