As one of the iconic destinations in Bali, Tanah Lot – which means the land in the sea – is one of the unique temples you must visit in Bali. It presents a spectacular and unique view of a temple sitting on the impressive rock overlooking the Indian ocean. It is built on the 3-acre size rock located just 20 meters (65.6 ft.) from the coastal lip. With one of the best sunset you can view around Bali, this magical place is definitely worth your visit and can be reached around 1 hour from the airport or 30 minutes from Seminyak. Here are some Tanah Lot facts and legend you should know.
How Tanah Lot was built
It is one of the seven sea temples in Bali dedicated to the Sea Gods (Dewa Baruna or Bhatara Segara or Norartha), which were built around the coastline of Bali island and are believed to protect Bali from evil sea spirits. It started around the 16th century when a Brahmin named Bhagawan Dang Hyang Nirartha came from Java to spread Hinduism in Bali. He performed some prayers with the people in a village in Tabanan, then walked along the beach afterward. Arriving in the site where Tanah Lot is located, according to his sacred and supernatural guidance, he found that it is the perfect and sacred place to worship God, so he advised the people to build a temple here. It is the important legend of Tanah Lot that Hindu Balinese people believe, apart from other Tanah Lot facts mentioned below.
The holy snake on the offshore island of Tanah Lot
In the past, before the temple was built, Tanah Lot was a rock called Gili Beo (Gili means small island, and Beo means bird), which means a small island of rocks resembling a bird. When Dang Hyang Nirartha found it and stayed there for a night to rest, the ruler of the village named Bendesa Beraban Sakti, who disagreed with his teachings, decided to expel him off the region. To protect himself, Dang Hyang Nirartha moved Gili Beo to the sea and created the snake from his shawl to always keep Gili Beo safe from the evil spirits and intruders. Afterward, it is called as Tanah Lot.
Until today, the snake is still staying on the rock base of the temple, which you can cross to see during the low tides. If you are keen to greet the snake personally, you can ask the guard there to let you touch the snake.
The cave and holy spring underneath Tanah Lot
One of the unusual Tanah Lot facts is that, though it is surrounded by salt ocean water, it has a cave and freshwater spring underneath, which is believed to be magical to purify the souls or cure the diseases. This sacred spring is called ‘Beji Kaler’, where the prayers must pray, wash their faces, and drinks the water prior to entering the main temple.
Ceremonies in Tanah Lot
A big ceremony in Tanah Lot called Piodalam or Pujawali is carried out every 210 days, which starts in the 4th days after Kuningan Day, and lasts for three days. The prayers come from all over Bali (or even outside Bali) to pray for their welfare and safety. Kuningan Day is the end of the Balinese Galungan holiday. Kuningan is the day when ancestors return to heaven after visiting the earth during the Galungan celebration.
Batu Bolong and other temples around Tanah Lot
Batu Bolong, which literally means “a rock in a whole”, is a smaller sea temple on the north of Tanah Lot, to protect Tanah Lot main temple. It is also one of the eight temples around Tanah Lot Temple, which role as the shrines: Penataran Temple, Pura Penyawang, Jero Kandang Temple, Enjung Galuh Temple, Batu Bolong Temple, Batu Mejan Temple, Pura Pakendungan, and Tri Antaka Monument.
Tanah Lot restoration
Back in the 80s, Tanah Lot temple started to crumble due to the aging process and abrasion by the ocean waves. To preserve its original shape and condition, the authorities made some efforts to restore it by February 2003. As a result, one-third of the rocks at the base of the temple were replaced by some artificial rocks, so the Tanah Lot temple continues to stand strong today. This is one of the Tanah Lot facts most people are not aware of.