Tanah Lot. Temple in Bali, Indonesia

Tanah Lot

Temple in Bali, Indonesia

Tanah Lot Sunset Photo © Mikaku

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Tanah Lot

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	Lot - Tanah Lot
Tanah Lot - Tanah Lot. Photo by Chang'r
Tanah Lot is a rocky formation topped by a Hindu temple, Pura Tanah Lot, on the southwest coast of Bali. Its access is temporarily restricted twice daily with the tides, creating a dramatic island outcrop. Its stunning location, combined with an impressive daily sunset to one side, has made it a popular pilgrimage site, for Hindus and tourists alike.


Translating from Balinese as ‘Land Sea’ the temple is believed to have been built in the 16th century at the request of Dang Hyang Nirartha (Wikipedia Article) who spent the night on the rocky island and believed it was a holy place where the Balinese sea gods should be worshipped. Balinese mythology has led to seven sea temples being built along the coast, all within eyesight of one another, and on a clear day Pura Tanah Lot often has views across to Pura Ulu Watu on its cliff top to the south. It is said that a giant, venomous sea snake guards the temple from both intruders and spirits who may cause harm or evil.

Despite its rich history and beautiful natural setting, much of its rocky base is now composed of artificial rock following a Japanese project to rework the damage done by years of erosion by the pounding seas.

Bali tanah lot - Tanah Lot
Bali tanah lot. Photo by Fabio Gismondi

Visiting Tanah Lot

Temple Tanah Lot - Tanah
Temple Tanah Lot - Tanah Lot. Photo by Claude Chauvin
While Pura Tanah Lot is a sacred Hindu site for both local Balinese and visiting Hindus, it and the surrounding area have become highly commercialised as tourists flock to see this impressive site. After paying your admission fee and entering the site, it is a maze of souvenir vendors, tattoo artists, and food traders before you reach the path which leads down to the ocean and get your first glimpse of Pura Tanah Lot. At low tide you can walk across to the base of the temple and pay an additional fee to offer your blessings to the sea gods. Alternatively, it is possible to walk a few metres up the side of the rocky base, but you cannot enter the temple itself (unless you are Balinese). As the tide returns, security guards swiftly move everybody back onto higher ground and there are lifeguards waiting to save anybody who accidentally gets washed away.

You can also walk west a short way along the coast to another viewpoint which looks back towards the temple from a slightly elevated position. There are a few places to sit, relax and take it all in, while entertainers, such as snake charmers and artists, set up shop on the slope leading down to the temple.

The site is busiest at sunset when huge crowds descend to watch the light change around the temple and the sun sink below the horizon. The temple looks particularly spectacular silhouetted against the deep orange sky behind at this time. Depending on the tides you may or may not be able to photograph the temple with the sunset from its base and instead may need to venture up into the cliffs behind. If you don’t want to compete with the crowds, visit earlier in the day, although as you can’t access the temple itself, the sunset is a large part of the attraction!

The ocean can be very rough around the temple and when the tide moves in it does so rapidly, cutting off certain areas at the base of the cliff and leaving people stranded. Make sure you listen to the instructions from the security guards to avoid being swept away with a large wave!

Tanah Lot - Tanah
Tanah Lot. Photo by Claire André

There are plenty of restaurants, particularly just outside the entrance gates where you can get relatively cheap meals, and snacks such as corn on the cob can be purchased inside the site, although prices are slightly higher than normal.

Entrance costs 30,000 Indonesian rupees for adults and 15,0000 IDR for children, while parking is 5,000 IDR for cars, and 2,000 IDR for motorbikes.

Getting there and away

Tanah Lot is around 20 kilometers from Denpasar (Wikipedia Article) and slightly further from the southern beach resorts surrounding Kuta. There is no public transport directly into the site and most people arrive either on an organised tour from southern Bali’s beaches or with a private taxi. Check the current going price with your hotel before you leave or bargain with your taxi driver until you both agree on a suitable price. As you depart the site there is a taxi stand on the right hand side with prices to all destinations clearly marked. These are generally not negotiable but it doesn’t hurt to try! Prices are for the taxi and not per person so if you are travelling independently and on a budget you can wait at the taxi stand until others arrive heading in your direction.

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Author: Pip Strickland. Last updated: Apr 05, 2015

Pictures of Tanah Lot

Tanah Lot Temple, Bali - Tanah Lot
Tanah Lot Temple, Bali - Photo by Exotissimo Travel


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