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Tirta empul

Tirta Empul Temple

ENTRANCE TICKET

The current entrance ticket prices for Tirta Empul Temple are as follow:

  • Adult Visitor: IDR 50.000
  • Child Visitor: IDR 25.000
  • Rent Sarong: IDR 10.000
  • Rent Locker: IDR 15.000

WHAT TO EXPECT

Entering the area of Pura Tirta Empul, you will be greeted by a beautiful panorama. Not far from the temple, specifically to the east of a small river, there are dozens of kiosks selling souvenirs. Additionally, there is a spacious parking lot to accommodate visitors’ vehicles. These facilities are available because Pura Tirta Empul is a major tourist attraction that draws a substantial number of visitors.

As its name suggests, Pura Tirta Empul features a very clear spring. This sacred spring is located in the middle courtyard of the temple and is channeled into the bathing pool in the outer courtyard through spout holes, with the remainder flowing into the Pakerisan River to the east of the temple. The local community believes that this spring possesses magical properties that can bring life, prosperity, and purification.

The temple is currently well-maintained overall, as it is a tourist attraction directly supervised by both the government and the local traditional village authorities. As a popular tourist destination, the site is managed according to the conservation principles mandated by the Cultural Heritage Act. Efforts are also made to distinguish between the profane and sacred areas. The sacred area is strictly reserved for religious ceremonies, with no other buildings allowed, while the profane area is designated for public amenities such as restrooms, art shops, parking lots, ticket booths, and food stalls.

THE BEST TIME TO VISIT

The best time to visit Tirta Empul temple is during the full moon (“Purnama”) or new moon(“Tilem”), as many local people worship on these holy days. For purification ritual, it is advisable to visit in the morning and avoid holidays or weekends to avois crowds.

Tirta Empul temple is open every day from 07.00 to 17.00 for tourists

HOW TO GET TO TIRTA EMPUL TEMPLE

Pura Tirta Empul is located in Manukaya Village, Tampaksiring District, Gianyar Regency, Bali. It’s easily accessible, connected by a well-maintained main road. From Denpasar City, the journey covers approximately 32 km via the Bedulu-Pejeng-Tampaksiring route. To reach the location, turn right at the junction before entering the Tampaksiring Presidential Palace area. After traveling about 600 meters, you will arrive at Pura Tirta Empul.

Astronomically, Pura Tirta Empul is located at coordinates 115°18’43” East Longitude and 8°10’30” South Latitude, situated at an altitude of 479 meters above sea level. The average temperature at this site is 23°C, and the annual rainfall reaches 1618 mm, with a humidity level of 76%. These climatological conditions create a cool temperature within the temple. This relatively humid microenvironment might be due to Pura Tirta Empul’s location, which is comparatively lower than the surrounding small hills. This lower position is likely because the cultural heritage site is oriented towards a spring, which generally exists at the lowest point.

TEMPLE COMPLEX

Pura Tirta Empul is horizontally divided into three sections: the outer courtyard (jaba pura), the middle courtyard (jaba tengah), and the inner courtyard (jeroan). This tripartite division seems to have a philosophical basis, symbolizing the macrocosm with its three levels of the world: bhurloka, bhuwarloka, and swarloka. The outer courtyard represents bhurloka, the lower world where humans live. The middle courtyard represents bhuwarloka, the middle world where purified humans reside, and the inner courtyard represents swarloka, the upper world where the gods dwell.

The structure of the three parts of Pura Tirta Empul is as follows:

  • Outer Courtyard (Jaba Pura)

This is the outermost courtyard. Within this area, there is a wantilan pavilion and a pond. The wantilan pavilion is an open structure used for gatherings during piodalan ceremonies, for cockfights which serve the purpose of tabuh rah (blood sacrifice), as a meeting place, and for other ceremonial purposes. The pond to the west of the wantilan enhances the temple’s beauty and contains ornamental fish. To the west of the pond, there are several buildings displaying and selling handicrafts and souvenirs to visitors. These souvenir items are managed by a cooperative under the coordination of the Bendesa Adat Manukaya Let. The pond complex is enclosed by a traditional Balinese rectangular wall (penyengker). In the northern part of the outer courtyard, there are also two pelinggih apit lawang shrines flanking the entrance to the pond, where people perform the melukat (self-purification) ritual.

  • Middle Courtyard (Jaba Tengah)

This is the middle courtyard of Pura Tirta Empul. In this courtyard, there is a sacred garden, which consists of a rectangular pond measuring 20 meters in length and 10 meters in width. In the center of this pond, a spring (tirta empul) emerges from the ground. “Tirta” means “holy water,” and “empul” means water that gushes out from the earth. The water from this spring flows into a lower bathing pool to the south through 26 spouts. Four spouts are located in the westernmost pool, aligned from north to south, while 22 spouts are arranged from east to west facing south. Each spout has a specific name according to local tradition, including names like penglukatan, pebersihan, sudamala, panglebur gering, and panegtegan. Many people purify themselves (melukat) by bathing under these south-facing spouts while wearing traditional clothing and often presenting offerings (canang) before the ritual. On certain days, such as religious holidays (Umanis Galungan, Umanis Kuningan, Banyu Pinaruh), full moons (Purnama), new moons (Tilem), or public holidays, the pool is crowded with people performing melukat. In this pool, using soap, washing clothes, and other such activities are prohibited, and offering appropriate offerings is mandatory.

Besides the sacred garden and bathing pool, this courtyard also contains several structures, such as Bale Pegat, Bale Agung, and Bale Gong. Bale Pegat is located on the western side of this courtyard, Bale Agung on the eastern side, and Bale Gong to the south facing north. In the center of this courtyard, there is also a megalithic relic, a stone that remains sacred to the local community.

  • Inner Courtyard (Jeroan)

The inner courtyard is the most sacred, innermost, and highest part of the temple complex. This area contains shrines (pelinggih) for worshipping God, the deities, or divine beings. To reach this area, one must pass through a gate called candi bentar. This courtyard is situated higher than the middle courtyard, giving the temple a tiered layout that ascends progressively. The most important sacred structure here is the tepasana, a square building resembling a temple, approximately 5 meters high, which serves as the abode of Dewa Indra, as narrated in the Usana Bali text. People usually pray in front of this shrine for safety, happiness, and inner and outer peace.

In addition to the tepasana shrine, this courtyard contains many other shrines and pavilions arranged from west to east, including Bale Priasan, Bale Pemereman, Bale Pewedan, Pelinggih Mayadanawa, Bale Priasan Dewa, Gedong Pengemit, Gedong Dewa, Bale Penyimpenan, Gedong Limas, Gedong Sari, and Bale Pengaruman. On the western side of this courtyard are Bale Penandingan and Bale Gong, while on the southern side, facing north, are Bale Peselang and Bale Pecanangan.

In addition to the three temple courtyards mentioned, there is another special courtyard located in the northwest corner of the temple, known as the purification courtyard. In this courtyard, there are several buildings used for preparing ceremonies. The buildings in this courtyard include Bale Penandingan, Bale Penyelaman, Bale Gede, Bale Pertemuan, and Bale Kulkul.

The cool and forested Aling-Aling Waterfall is reachable down rice field paths near Singaraja in North Bali. You’ll pass a collection of smaller weirs as you descend about 100 steps before finding your prize view. The 35-metre falls greets you with cool mist and rushing sounds. From a rocky peak, the water splits into 2 streams, with the one on the right being the larger. The plunge pool at the bottom is about 4 metres deep, so it’s relatively safe to jump into and have a swim around. Take extra caution of the slippery and jagged rocks, though.

HISTORY

Pura Tirta Empul is a representation of a water temple developed by past rulers. The selection of a spring as a sacred site seems highly consistent with the concept of ancient India, which required temples to be located near water sources (Acharya, 1933: 13-14). Therefore, it is not surprising to find numerous historical temple structures along the Pakerisan River basin, such as Gunung Kawi Temple, Mangening Temple, Pengukur-ukuran Temple, Tegallinggah Temple, and Tirta Empul itself.

To uncover the history of the establishment of Pura Tirta Empul, several written sources can be used, including the Manukaya Inscription and the Usana Bali palm-leaf manuscripts. The Manukaya Inscription is a stone inscription now kept in a shrine at Pura Puseh Desa Manukaya.

Since 1924, the Manukaya Inscription has attracted the attention of archaeologists, particularly those from the Netherlands. Among them, W.F. Stutterheim showed significant interest in the inscription. Stutterheim was the first to decipher the Manukaya Inscription, which was subsequently published in his book titled “Oudheden Van Bali” (Stutterheim, 1929: 68-69). Later, the inscription was reinterpreted by R. Goris and published in his book “Prasasti Bali I” (Goris, 1954: 75-76).

The Manukaya Inscription, highly revered by the local community, was carved on a stone on both sides. However, the engraved letters have become so weathered that not all of the inscription’s content can be read. The first side (A) consists of 15 lines of writing, while the second side (B) consists of 8 lines. The Manukaya Inscription is written in ancient Balinese language and script. The readable parts of side A mention the year the inscription was issued, which is 882 Saka / 960 AD, and the name of King Jayasingha Warmadewa. Additionally, the inscription contains the king’s command to renovate or repair the lake or tirtha at Mpul water (now Tirta Empul in Tampaksiring), which suffered damage every year due to the swift flow of water. This lake is still considered sacred by the community, especially the Barong group in the Gianyar area. Every year, a ceremony called odalan is held, and the stone inscription is paraded to Pura Tirta Empul to be sanctified. Therefore, if the year mentioned in the inscription is considered as the year of the establishment of this sacred site, then it can be determined that the age of Pura Tirta Empul today has reached 1050 years.

In addition to the information provided by the inscription, the history of Pura Tirta Empul can also be known through folk tales that have been passed down to the present day, originating from the Kekawin Usana Bali manuscript. The contents of this manuscript mainly narrate that in ancient times, a heavenly apsara army led by Dewa Indra descended from the heavens to Bali. Dewa Indra and his army landed in Kahyangan Basukih and then proceeded westward to attack King Mayadanawa in Bedahulu. King Mayadanawa was an extremely arrogant ruler who forbade his people from making offerings to the gods. Mayadanawa’s behavior angered the gods. Dewa Indra, along with his ministers Citranggada, Citrasena, and Jayanta, along with their army, devised strategies for battle against Mayadanawa. The sound of drums echoed, the gongs resounded, flags fluttered, and the army marched towards Bedahulu.

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