Taman Ayun Temple, also known as the Royal Temple of Mengwi, is one of the most important religious structures in Bali. Built in 1634 by a king of the Mengwi dynasty, the impressive complex stands on an island in a river, with its inner temple surrounded by a moat. Its Balinese name translates to mean ‘Garden Temple in the Water.’
It was the main temple of the Mengwi kingdom, which survived until 1891, when it was conquered by the neighbouring kingdoms of Tabanan and Badung. The large temple was built in 1634 and extensively renovated in 1937. It’s a spacious place to wander around and you’ll be able to get away from speed-obsessed group-tour mobs.
The expansive grounds include a park, garden area and some 50 structures, including multiple tiered shrines (called merus in Balinese), each dedicated to a god. Part of a network of directional temples that protect Bali from evil spirits, the entire complex was designed to symbolize the mythological home of the gods, Mount Meru, floating in the sea of eternity. It’s the largest and most architecturally impressive water temple in the region and part of the Cultural Landscape of Bali Province UNESCO World Heritage site. What makes this Temple special is because the whole temple area is surrounded by fish pond, that gives an illusion as if the Temple is drifting on water and the temple structure is also unique due to its multi-storied roof.
The first courtyard is a large, open, grassy expanse and the inner courtyard has a multitude of meru (multi-tiered shrines). Lotus-blossoms fill the pools; the temple is part of the subak (complex rice-field irrigation system) sites recognised by Unesco in 2012.
The footpath leads on to a second candi bentar which gives access to the jaba tengah, the more elevated, second courtyard of the temple. Inside the jaba tengah one finds the walled jaba jero, the third and most holy courtyard of the temple in which the most important shrines are located, among others a number of five, seven, nine and eleven tierd meru’s. The jaba jero is only accessible during important religious ceremonies, such as the odalan – the day on which the inauguration of the temple is commemorated.
The odalan of the Taman Ayun temple takes place every 210 days on a day called Anggara Kasih, the Tuesday of the week Medangsia of the Balinese Pawukon calendar. The ceremonies of this odalan cover a period of several days.
How to get there:
Pura Taman Ayun is an easy stop on a drive to/from Bedugal and the Jatiluwih rice terraces. It is a stop-off on many organised tours.
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