In the highlands of Bali lies this most picturesque and to many, most holy of temples. Pura Ulun Danu Bratan is devoted to Dewi Danu and used to give offerings to this Balinese god of water, rivers and lakes, to give thanks for the fertility of the region provided by the waters of Lake Bratan upon whose shores the temple is built.
The mountains loom large over Pura Ulan Danu Bratan
This is one of the most serene settings for a temple that we encountered in our trip to Bali but again I did find myself being disappointed by the crowds that greeted us when we arrived. My advice to those looking for the tranquil temple of our imaginings would be to arrive early.
Given the elevation of the lake (1240m above sea level) make sure you bring a jacket – particularly if you’re making an early day of it – as it can be cool compared to the tourist spots in Nusa Dua, Kuta and Seminyak.
Since the site is open from 7am aim early. I know if I visit the site again I would either make an overnight stay near Bedegul or a really early start from the coast in order to try for one of those quiet dreamy images we see of this temple, and which the early morning light, with potentially some fog, would offer the best chance of obtaining.
The temple complex at Benugul has many statues of fish around the grounds
My advice for a visit here is:
- Arrive early to maximise your Rp30,000 entrance fee, beat the crowds and get the best of the atmosphere
- Bring something warm to wear
- Bring a large bucket of patience to deal with the crowds if you plan on arriving later in the day
Perched 70m above the water atop the impressive limestone cliffs of the south western tip of Bali is Pura Luhur Uluwatu also known as Uluwatu Temple.
Ulluwatu Temple on top of the cliffs
The temple itself, whilst impressive enough, is dwarfed by the splendor of its location and although we visited during the day it is apparently best visited at sunset when the sky and ocean are set afire by the waning sun.
On arrival at the site, it is important to be properly attired and anyone with their knees uncovered and their shoulders bare will be required to borrow one of the sarongs and belts from the gate. Entry to the park was a fee of around 20,000 IDR (about US$2) but beware of the “monkey scarers”. We were nearly charged an additional 100,000 IDR for someone to protect us from the monkeys and it was made to sound like this was a required service – not optional.
Monkey on Ullawatu cliff
The monkeys which live in the area are pretty bold but our family really had no issues with them but there was a family with small children there when we arrived and before they had left the car park one of the monkeys had stolen the flip-flops off the feet of their young son who I guessed to be about 5. Given the monkeys are there I strongly advise against taking any food with you from your car as this could lead to unwanted attention.
Ulluwatu Temple courtyard
Once through the gates walk along the impressive cliffs taking in the views and head up to the temple at the highest point in the complex. As with all Balinese temples that we came across, you will not be able to access the actual temples themselves but you will be able to walk around and look into them from the gates.
All in all this is well worth the visit, watch out for monkeys and take your head for heights with you.