During one of our Temple Hopping trips, we made it to one of the most important, but also busiest temples not only in Bali but also in Indonesia – Pura Tirta Empul! Tirta Empul is a water temple built during the 10th century (926 AD) in dedication to the Hindu God of Water Vishnu.
We visited the temple during a weekday and I cannot say they were many worshippers and tourist there. According to locals, Tirta Empul welcomes the most of its visitors on Sunday. Therefore, I would recommend visiting the holy water temple during a weekday. If you are a photo-junkie like me, the best time for you to visit Tirta Empul is after 3 p.m. when the sun gets much lower. The whole temple complex becomes a magic place for warm tone photography.
Pura Tirta Empul: How to Get There
Tirta Empul temple is located close to the town of Tampaksiring in the village of Manukaya, which is a 30-minute drive to the North of Ubud (15 km). The Temple is also about 40 km from Denpasar (ca 1.15 h by car), 50 km from Kuta (ca 1.30 h by car), 60 km from Nusa Dua (ca 1h 40 min by car), and 45 km from Padang Bai (ca 1.15 h by car).
Pura Tirta Empul: Know Before You Go
Opening Hours: Pura Titra Empul is open every day from Monday-Sunday – 9:00 am to 6:00 pm
Parking: 5.000 IDR for cars, and 2.000 IDR for motorbikes
Tickets: Adults 15.000 IDR (0,80 €), Children and Students 7.500 IDR (0,40 €); Sarong for the pool: 10.000 IDR; Lockers: 10. 000 IDR
Ticketing Service: From 9:00 am to 5:30 pm
Pura Tirta Empul’s History and Legend of Creation
The Balinese and other Hindu Pilgrims believe that the sacred place of Tirta Empul is created by God Indra (the King of Heaven) and that its spring water has some curative properties. The Holy Springs Temple is considered as one of the five most holy temples in Bali.
The legend says that the sacred spring was created by the God Indra. Indra’s army got poisoned by Mayadanawa, the first King of Bali. Therefore, Indra decided to build a place with healing powers – the Tirta Empul’s fountain of immortality. Once again Mayadenawa transformed himself into a boulder, but this time Indra shot an arrow through it and killed him. Balinese believe that King’s blood is the source of Petanu River. The locals celebrate his dead once in 210 days with a ceremony called Galungan.
What to see in Pura Tirta Empul
Tirta Empul includes all three traditional Balinese key sections within a temple – the outside area (Nista Mandala), the middle area (Madya Mandala) and the main temple area (Utama Mandala). You will have to go through the Tirta Empuls’ Split Gate (“candi bentar”) in order to get inside the Madaya Mandala – here you will find the mandatory Hindu shrines to Braham, Vishnu, Shiva, Indra and Mt. Batur.
Different to all other (non-water) Hindu temples which we visited in Bali, the main attractions are not the Holy Shrines dedicated to Gods, but the two rectangular purification pools carved out of stone. The pools of Jaba Tengah are filled with the holy spring water that comes out of 13 sculpted spouts.
The purification pools are the most important place for worshippers who come here after making some offering at the temple. The prayers enter the purification pools and start praying from the first spout on the left side going to the 11th spout on the right side. The last 2 spouts are dedicated to funeral rituals. Some of the pilgrims fill the holy water in bottles and take it home.
Jeroan is the main temple area (Utama Mandala) which is located behind the purification pool. Here you can see Hindu Pilgrims praying in front of the Holy Shrines. Jeroan area is the quietest one and the best in Tirta EMpul if you want to enjoy the silence or make some peaceful photos.
The Koi Pool
If you come to Pura Tirta Empul after 3 p.m. this would be the best place to make your perfect “brushed gold” photos! The Koi Pool is the final section of the complex. The pool is filled up with the holy spring water and thousands of beautiful and colourful koi fishes.
Enjoy the day!