Sep 28, 2010

Tanah Lot – Temple in the Ocean

The setting sun paints a mixture of magenta and orange against the dark blue sky. As the tide rises, the spectacular sight of the sacred Tanah Lot Temple takes you in and mesmerizes you. But then, a stray tourist passes by, blocking your line of sight. Not long after, a small children accidentally bumps into you.

The magic is gone, and as you look around it’s easy to see why. Tanah Lot has become a victim of its own popularity. Throngs of tourists crowd the place during sunset, its secret whispers no longer closed to the rest of the world.
The iconic Temple in the Sea. Photo credit - Bram & Vera.
The iconic Temple in the Sea. Photo credit - Bram & Vera.
In 1998, when I first visited the temple, I could still see it from the road side, before I entered the parking area. Cars and visitors were plenty but not packed, you can still park next to the seashore. But now, the area has been commercialized and developed. Hotels were built to fulfill market demand, and every visitor and car has to pay for entrance.
From the parking lot to the temple, lines of handicraft sellers formed orderly on both sides of the pedestal. Numerous tourists inched their way towards the temple, stopping occasionally to buy various goods and souvenirs. Finally, we reached the beach between the temple and the mainland. Hundreds of people are packed there, but you make do and enjoy the mesmerizing view as much as you can.

A low-lying beach separates the temple and the cliff. Photo credit - night86mare (top) and rief (bottom).
A low-lying beach separates the temple and the cliff. Photo credit - night86mare (top) and rief (bottom).
Tanah Lot means Land in the Middle of the Sea. Located in the coast of West Bali, it is one of the sacred temples of Bali which were made to give protection to the island. It was built in the 16th century by Dang Hyang Nirartha, a priest from Java during his travels through south-west coast of Bali. He spent the night on a small island near the main land, and felt a holy atmosphere there. The next morning, he asked the local fisherman to build a temple to worship the God of the Sea on that rock.
Sunset over the Tanah Lot Temple. Photo credit - Hanoian.
Sunset over the Tanah Lot Temple. Photo credit - Hanoian.
The sunset is a popular time to visit, so be warned that the tourist crush can be quite severe. Despite all this however, Tanah Lot remains one of the must-see attractions of Bali.
My suggestion? Splurge a little and enjoy a fine dining experience as you take in the mesmerizing sunset. That way you won’t have to jostle for a spot with the other sight-seers. Stay back later through the sunset, or maybe even come in the wee hours of the morning to catch the rising sun.

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