Between Incense and Architecture

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At the Pura Luhur Uluwatu Temple in Bali, Indonesia.

It’s quite common to walk in Bali and find one temple every two houses built there. I did not find anywhere else, in the eight countries I visited this 30 day trip of mine in Asia, that much worship. It is usual that every morning you should take a shower and walk to the temple to worship the island’s Gods, praying and bringing them some offering, usually that is a small basket with flowers and incense. The same ritual shall be repeated at the end of the afternoon, before getting dark. As you walk around the streets in Kuta, the largest city, and also the busiest one on this Island, in Indonesia. Bali was the second destination of my trip, when there, you feel you are wandering through clouds of incense.

Uma amostra da arquitetura balinesa que se pode encontrar andando pelas ruas na ilha de Bali, Indonesia. / A sample of the balinese architecture you can find walking around in the island of Bali, Indonesia.
A sample of the balinese architecture you can find walking around in the island of Bali, Indonesia.

That’s everywhere, a sensation of tranquility is inspired every step you take. Also found in any stores in the city, they also make the offer with flowers and incense in every door you enter, as a sign of respect for the Gods protectors of the island. But hey, don’t you stay on in Kuta, there are lots of beautiful things to do everywhere else there. One of the best in my opinion, the Uluwatu Temple, a temple of the XI century, also known as Pura Luhur Uluwatu, meaning ‘Ulu” at the top, ‘watu’ of the rock, and it is one of the six temples  belonging to spiritual pillars, worldly known for being located in a magnificent place of the island, on a cliff 70 meters high above the indian sea. From there it is also possible to appreciate one of the most stunning sunsets of that side of the world. The Uluwatu temple is built in Balinese architecture, with lots of traditional aspects of that island, and many ancient sculptures. Lots of traces found there, prove the temple’s origin to be from the meghalitic and refer to the tenth century. There are two ways into this temple, one north other south. There’s also a nearby forest, close to one of the entries, inhabitated for hundreds of monkeys. The legend tells, the monkeys protect the temple from the bad influences. A winding narrow walled street in concrete secures the temple along the cliffs. To cross it, it takes about an hour from one side to other. The Balinese hindus believe the three divine powers of Brahma, Vishnu and Siva become one in this place. This belief turns the Uluwatu temple in a place of worship to Siva Rudra, the balinese hindu divinity of all the elements and aspects of life and universe. This temple is also dedicated to protect Bali from the marine demons. Legend has it, the architect of the Uluwatu temple is Dhang Hyang Dwijendra. He is said to be the architect of other many temples in Bali as well, and also in other locations in Indonesia like Lombok and Sumbawa. Up to 1983, the access to the temple was difficult and dangerous. In 1999, a lightning set fire and brought down part of the temple where it hit. But, and that sounds very curious, even though the temple stands on a cliff by the ocean, there never was a big erosion under the its lands. The Balinese believe that is one of the biggest demonstrations of the God’s protection to the temple. With a culture driven to worship of their Gods and divine spirits, visiting Bali is much more than enjoying some of the most paradisiac beaches in the world, the immersion in those sacred rituals, washes the soul in a very refreshing way.

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AT the wall along the cliff crossing from one side to another at the Pura Luhur Uluwatu Temple in Bali, Indonesia.