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Visiting Bali's Tirta Empul Holy Spring Temple

A highlight of my highly transformational trip to Bali, Indonesia was a visit to Tirta Empul, an ancient Balinese Hindu water temple built over a thousand years ago. The Balinese periodically go to the temple to cleanse themselves of various types of negativity. Following is my experience and guide to help you if you are lucky enough to visit this magical place. Click here for a map of the temple's location and directions.

The temple is a must visit for any traveler to Bali interested in cultural and spiritual sites and also to participate in an authentic spiritual purification ritual. Upon hearing about this place and the possibility of participating in my own purification ritual, I jumped at the chance. Tirta Empul is open seven days a week. The opening hours for the temple are between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm. It usually takes between 30 minutes to an hour to tour the grounds. It may take longer if you want to purify yourself in the sacred pools.

The first thing you should know is that if you want to visit this temple, you must wear a sarong inside. A sarong is a piece of cloth that is wrapped around the waste by men and women in Balinese culture. If you don't have your own, one can be provided for a small donation fee. The second point is that there is an tourist entrance fee of about 30,000 IDR (about $2.50 US). Its pretty reasonable. The money helps with temple maintenance and upkeep.

Although you can stroll the temple grounds yourself, you can also hire one of the many tourist guides who will be happy to show you around for a modest fee. I opted for this as I wanted to learn as much as I could about what I was seeing which was all foreign to me.

Also of note in the area is a presidential palace that was built for Soekarno, the first President of Indonesia, in 1954. It overlooks the temple from above.

The amazing this about the temple itself was that it was built around a sacred spring which was said to emerge from the hole where the Hindu God Indra stuck his pole in the ground. The water which sprung forth was used to revive his dead soldiers who were poisoned by an evil king name Maya Denawa who didn't believe in God.

The sacred spring still flows today and can be clearly seen in this pool in the temple pictured below. Beneath the surface of the water you see jets of water mixed with green algae coming out of the ground. It looks pretty weird and other worldly but its pretty cool. There is definately a mystical presence to this place.

There are many cool ancient statues of personalities from the Balinese cosmology to look at. And because Tirta Empul is a working temple, you will alway see devotees there worshipping so its important to be mindful and respectful. Seeing worshippers deep in devotion practicing various aspects of their faith offers a unique and personal snapshot into the spiritual life of the Balinese. The Balinese are used to tourist in their sacred places as long as its respectful.

Despite the free range access to this active temple, there are however, some areas of the temple which remain off limits to non Hindu. Fortunately, the most fascinating place, the holy springs, where devotees cleanse themselves, is open to all.

Tirta Empul temple's layout is divided into 3 courtyards with a series of pools where devotees bath themselves.

  • Pool with 13 fountains, used as holy water for cremation or dead ceremony,

  • Pool with 8 fountains, used as water for symbolic cleaning ( spiritual purification ), when a person is sick it is believed he is infected by immaterial dirt.

  • Pool with 5 fountains for holy water used people from outside come to pra

The main attraction and most important site at Tirta Empul Temple is Jaba Tengah, an enclosure in the middle courtyard which is composed of 2 pools containing 30 water fountains where devotees purify themselves. The proper way to proceed is to first change into your bathing clothes in the locker rooms provided, then make an offering at the temple, and then climb into the main pool to bathe and pray. Many collect the holy water in bottles to take home.

Behind the purification pools is the final section of Tirta Empul holy water temple called the Jeroan. The Jeroan, means ‘inner courtyard’ is where people come to pray and meditate after bathing in the sacred pools. The front area of the courtyard contains the original sacred water spring which feeds the purification pools. In essence, a visit to Tirta Empul will provide you with a relaxing, cultural, spiritual and purifying experience if you are open to it. If you would like to join us on a trip to Bali in May 2018 click here.

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