The Indonesian island of Bali is very different from most of Indonesia as the Hindu faith is still practised here by a majority of Balinese. Just about everywhere you look in Bali you will see a temple, as they are part of everyday life up here.
I was fortunate to visit the Water Temple in the town of Tampak Siring during the Festival of Galungan, one of the most important festivals on the Hindu calendar.
The Water Temple has an inauspicious entrance. Once inside, there is a small altar that is located at the base of a massive banyan tree. After this you pass through a gate way and enter an area containing a large pool. This is where celebrants bath win the sacred waters.
A series of fountains that are carved in the likeness of Hindu gods fill the pool. Believers immerse themselves in the waters, starting at one end, and make offerings to each god/fountain in turn until they reach the end of the pool. The waters are crystal clear and, apparently, quite cold.
You exit here via another gateway and immediately stumble upon another smaller pool. According to our guide Wayan bathing is forbidden here as this is the pool from which water is collected to be taken to other temples to be used for ceremonial purposes.
From here you progress to the inner temple. Before entering, appropriate dress must be worn, and tourists are required to don sarongs or sashes before proceeding further into the temple. According to regulations, you can’t enter this area if you are bleeding, either from a cut, wound or menstruation, although, I’m not sure how they police it. Inside the inner temple are many ornately sculptured temples and statues that are carved from both wood and stone. Here, Hindus make their offerings to the gods and receive the sacred water in tiny droplets from an official. They use this water to symbolically bathe their heads and to ingest some of the water. Visitors are welcome to take photos, just as long as you don’t stand between a celebrant and the altar as offerings are made and prayers said.
The altar faces the main pool in the complex, and it is in this pool where you can clearly see the artesian waters bubbling up through the ground. There are a lot of weeds and water plants flourishing in the pool, otherwise the waters are crystal clear. I presume the marine plants are left to flourish because the pond is considered too Sacred to be interfered with.
Upon leaving the temple you pass by another pool, but this is filled with koi fish of various sizes and hues. You can buy some fish feed here and have an absolute ball attracting hundreds of fish to you.
Towering above the temple, on a high hill, is one of the former homes of ex-Indonesian President Sukarno. According to Wayan Sukarno’s mother was Balinese. The house is still out of bounds to locals and may still be used as an official government residence.