Pura Luhur Uluwatu is definitely one of the top places on the island to go to for a delightful sunset, with direct views overlooking the beautiful waves of the Indian Ocean and daily Kecak dance performances held at an amphitheatre nearby. Balinese architecture, traditionally-designed gateways, and ancient sculptures add to Uluwatu Temple's appeal.
Interested in this tour? Book it here.
Spectacular setting of Uluwatu Temple
Without a doubt, what makes Uluwatu Temple spectacular is its cliff-top setting at the edge of a cliff and overlooking the waves of the Indian Ocean. Ulu means the ‘top’ or the ‘tip’ and watu is ‘stone’ or ‘rock’ in Balinese. Several archaeological remains found here prove the temple to be of megalithic origin, dating back to around the 10th century. There are 2 entrances to Uluwatu Temple, one from the south and the other from the north.
A small forest surrounds the temple where hundreds of monkeys dwell. They are believed to guard the temple against negative influences. The serpentine pathway to the temple is fortified by concrete walls on the cliff side. It takes about an hour to get from one end to another as there are several fenced points along the way where you can take a pause. The views from the bottom of the water surging up against rocks and the ocean horizon are breathtaking.
The Balinese Hindus believe that the powers of the Hindu Trinity: Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva, merge here. That belief results in making Uluwatu Temple a place of worship of Siva Rudra, the Balinese Hindu deity of all elements and aspects of life in the universe. Pura Uluwatu is also dedicated to protecting Bali from evil sea spirits.
Brief history of Uluwatu Temple
Inscriptions mention that Uluwatu Temple was instigated by Mpu Kuturan, a Majapahit monk who's also credited for the establishment of several other key temples in Bali. A holy priest from eastern Java, Dhang Hyang Dwijendra, then chose Uluwatu Temple to be his spiritual journey's final place of worship. Devotees believe that he reached the highest point of spiritual oneness by a strike of lightning and vanished.
Legend says that Dhang Hyang Dwijendra (also frequently referred to by name as Danghyang Nirartha) was the architect of Uluwatu Temple and several other temples in Bali, Lombok, as well as Sumbawa. Until 1983, Pura Uluwatu was hardly accessible and a lightning strike in 1999 set some parts of the temple on fire. The temple has undergone a series of restoration efforts since.
Uluwatu Temple's highlights and features
Behind the main shrine in one of the courtyards of Uluwatu Temple lies a Brahmin statue facing the Indian Ocean, considered as a representation of Dhang Hyang Dwijendra. The two entrances to the temple area are split gates with leaves and flowers carvings. In front of each of them are a couple of sculptures shaped like a human body with an elephant head.
One of Uluwatu's heritage 10th-century relics is a one-piece winged stone gate leading to the inside courtyard of the temple. Winged gates are not commonly found on the island. The Pura Dalem Jurit temple was added in the 16th century. There are 3 statues in it, one of them depicting Brahma. There are 2 stone troughs in the temple area. If both of them were to be joined, they would form a sarcophagus (Megalithic coffin).
Uluwatu Beach, right below the cliff, is one of Bali's best internationally-known surfing spots.
Good to know about Uluwatu Temple
Precautionary signs warn visitors of the resident macaques grabbing attractive items such as sunglasses and cameras. They can be calmer when approached with peanuts or bananas, though, lending an opportunity to retake stolen possessions.
Visitors must wear a sarong and a sash which can be hired at the temple entrance. The best time to visit is just before sunset. A Kecak dance is performed every day at the adjacent cliff-top stage from 6pm and usually last an hour. What makes it the most favourite venue to watch a Kecak dance is the sunset background of the performance.
There's no public transportation to get here and going back into town will be difficult without any prearranged ride or taxi. A guide is not necessary, though helpful.
- Opening Hours: Daily from 9am to 6pm
- Location: Jalan Raya Uluwatu, Pecatu, Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia