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To many people, Tanah Lot epitomizes the romantic island of Bali. This is the image of Balinese temples on the rock facing the wide open ocean, perched high above the crashing waves below, with as background the colorful sky at dusk, lit by the slowly disappearing setting sun.
Located in the sea some 300 meters from shore, the huge rock of Tanah Lot is reachable overland at low tide. On its northern side stand two Balinese temples built on an overhanging cliff which connects the islet to the shore. Underneath the rock are caves that are inhabited by sea snakes, believed to be the guardians of the temples.
The Tanah Lot temples form an inseparable part of the Dang Kahyangan temples, the six most holy temples on Bali, but here believers pray to the god of the sea.
On the west side of the rock is a spring which the Hindus believe to be holy water and the reason why the temples were built on this rock.
Tanah Lot is derived from the words “Tanah” meaning a rock or land, while “Lot” or “Lod” means south or the sea. Therefore Tanah Lot means the Rock by the Sea. The temples of Tanah Lot were said to have been built in the 16th century by the Hindu priest Bawu Rawuh, better known as Danghyang Nirartha, who came from the kingdom of Majapahit in East Java, and travelled to Bali to spread the Hindu religion. Arriving at this spot he was inspired by the sacredness of the place and advised his followers to build the temples at this location.
According to legend it was Danghyang Nirartha who successfully strengthened the belief of the local population in the Hindu religion. However, in the process, another local religious leader named Bendesa Beraban, felt competed since many of his followers turned to Danghyang Nirarta. Seeing this, Bendesa ordered Danghyang Nirartha to leave the area of Tanah Lot.
Nirartha agreed but before leaving, he gathered all his powers, lifted the rock, and moved this further out to sea, building temples on this rock. He then transformed his shawl into snakes to guard the temples. Upon seeing this, Bendesa Beraban was awed and became a follower of Danghyang Nirartha.
Until today the sea snakes still make the caves their habitat. They have a flat tail like a fish and are black in color with yellow stripes. On certain days when the sun sets towards the north one can see the rays shining right onto the caves.
Beneath the temples of Tanah Lot is a cave, habitat of a number of large and small black with yellow striped snakes. These snakes are tame but must not be disturbed. People say that their venom is three times stronger than that of a cobra.
Other attractions around Tanah Lot to visit and enjoy are the following.
The Sunset Terrace
The Sunset terrace is the best place to watch an unforgettable sunset over Tanah Lot. Here you can enjoy a luxurious breakfast or lunch, taste special Balinese food and drinks, and watch the tide flow in. At high tide the rock of Tanah Lot appears like a boat floating on the waves. On full moon nights, spend an unforgettable romantic evening on the terrace with your loved one.
The temple at Batu Bolong is located some 100 meters west of Pura Enjung Galuh. The temple is built within the cave inside a huge rock that juts out into the sea. During Melasti, people come here to pray at the temple of Batu Bolong.
The temple or Pura Enjung Galuh stands right next to Pura Jero Kandang, also at Enjung Galuh. “Njung” means the rock that juts out to sea. Pura Enjung Galuh is dedicated to the goddess of welfare, Dewi Sri Shakti.
The Surya Mandala Cultural Park
At the Surya Mandala cultural park you can enjoy cultural performances, exhibitions, while meetings and conferences are also often held here. Here is also a good place to enjoy the view. The Kecak Dance which is normally performed just before sunset is held here daily. Tickets cost Rp. 50,000/per person.
The Art Market
Here is also an art and souvenir market for those wanting to shop for art pieces or souvenirs from Bali to take home.
Coming from Denpasar on the main highway and arriving in the town of Kediri, you will certainly not miss the large sign at the main intersection announcing the southwest turn to Pura Tanah Lot.
To reach the temple of Tanah Lot you will need to cross some dry land then climb a hill to reach the site of the temple.