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Pura Taman Ayun, Bali, Indonesia

By on September 1, 2015 in Indonesia

First full day on Pali, and time to start exploring. Sadly the weather was dull, and so not ideal for photography.

I had arranged for Ubud Taxis to pick me up at Gajah Biru Bungalows at 9 am and to drive me around for the day visiting various local sites – mainly temples, and other tourist attractions. And the first stop was Pura Taman Ayun, which is about 35 minutes from Ubud. The temple is in the village of Mengwi, about 18 km west of Denpasar.

Pura Taman Ayun is a Royal Water Temple and a plaque onsite states:

”The Cultural Landscape of Bali Province: The Subak System as a manifestation of the Tri Hita Karana Philosophy, consists of Supreme Water Temple Pura Ulun Dana Batur and Lake Batur, Subak, Landscape of Pakerisan Watershed, Subak Landscape of Catir Angge Batukaru, and Royal Temple of Taman Ayun has been inscribed upon the World Heritage List of the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage. Inscription on this List confirms the outstanding universal value of a cultural or natural property which deserves protection for the benefit all humanity.”

And I must admit that other than the site was of international interest and should be preserved I was unsure as to what that meant….

The entry cost was 15,000 (£0.75 UK; $1 U.S.), and it should be noted that no menstruating women are allowed.

One thing to note is there are no information boards, but there is a small leaflet available explain the history of the complex. There are also guides available

The history of the temple is closely associated with the beginning of the Rajadom of Mengwi in 1627. The temple was built in 1634 at the time at the rule of the first Raja Mengwi – l Gusti Agung Ngurah Made Agung (later known as lda Cokorda Sakti Belambangan), and became a place of worship for the Royal Family, as well as the final resting place in the Gedong Paibon shrine, which is one of many shrines present in the temple complex with the other shrines being dedicated to other temples in Bali. Interestingly these “temple” shrines served to act as ‘conduits’ to allow worshipper at Pura Taman Ayun to connect ceremonies at the other temples.

Pura Taman Ayun, like most Balinese temples, has three connected temple yards. The inner most sanctum is known as “Utama Mandala” (the highest circle), the middle yard is called “Madia Mandala” (the circle in between) and the outer as “Nista Mandala” (the humblest circle). The gateway between the outer and middle yards is a split gate called the Candi Bentar and to enter the inner most sanctum you pass through the raised Kori Agung (Paduraksa) gateway.

In the 1890s war broke out between the Rajas of Badung and Mengwi, with the Raja of Mengwi losing. As a result of this, the temple fell into disrepair. In 1911 members of the Raja of Mengwi family returned to the area and restored the temple, only for it to be severely damaged by an earthquake on 20th. January 1917. The temple is still maintained by members of the Raja of Mengwi family, with assistance from a committee.

The photograph below shows the main moat of the Pura Taman Ayun temple.

Pura Taman Ayun

The main entrance to the temple is across a small bridge over the moat, and through a split gate.

Pura Taman Ayun

When I visited only part of the moat was full of water with the other section drained for repair.

Pura Taman Ayun

The split gates you find in Bali I found fascinating. I loved the complexity of the gate design and the clean ‘cut’ down the middle for the entrance. You can almost imagine the gate being built as a whole, being sliced in two, and then the two halves being dragged apart to form the entrance. I thought the symmetry of it all was fantastic.

Pura Taman Ayun

Besides the gates, I was also impressed by the sculptures. They were stunning. The detail in the sculptures was amazing, and when combined with the weathered look of the stone, the lichen and the moss, they looked great.

Pura Taman Ayun

Pura Taman Ayun

Pura Taman Ayun

Finally at the centre of the temple complex is the “Utama Mandala” (the highest circle), which was, like the main temple complex, surrounded by a moat. You cannot enter the Utama Mandala.

Pura Taman Ayun

Pura Taman Ayun

Pura Taman Ayun

The gardens were very nice and relaxing, or they would have been if it wasn’t for the sound of heavy machinery repairing the waterways around the temple.

Pura Taman Ayun

Pura Taman Ayun

Pura Taman Ayun

Pura Taman Ayun

Pura Taman Ayun

The entrance to the ”Utama Mandala“ (the highest circle) – which you cannot enter – is through the Kori Agung (Paduraksa) gateway.

Pura Taman Ayun

Pura Taman Ayun

In one corner of the temple, I came across a painter and possibly some of the loudest cicadas I have ever heard.

Pura Taman Ayun

The artwork was very impressive.

Pura Taman Ayun

And it was great watching him slowly applying the paints to the canvas.

Pura Taman Ayun

Pura Taman Ayun

In total, I spent around an hour exploring the temple. It was, at the time, the first temple I had visited in Bali and so was unsure what to expect, however, what I saw was very impressive, and I particularly liked the relaxed atmosphere of the complex.

FourSquare: Pura Taman Ayun

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Nick's continued wanderings can be followed on Twitter: @nickswanderings.
 

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