What: Tanah Lot, A picturesque Hindu Temple built on a coastal rock formation
Where: Bali, Indonesia, about 45 minutes drive from the tourist centre of Kuta
When: 15th century, restored in the 1980’s
I’m not one that enjoys large crowds, I avoid the hoards of people around Sydney Harbour on New Years Eve and the thought of shopping at the boxing Day sales sends shivers down my spine, so when our mini bus pulled up in the carpark outside Tanah Lot in Bali (after trying to find a parking spot for a while) the dreaded thought of crowds (and hundreds of camera wielding tourists) set it.
Tanah Lot is believed to have been established in the 15th century by a Hindu priest who stopped and rested overnight on the rocky outcrop. The next morning he advised the fishermen of the area to build a shrine as he believed it to be a holy rock. Now days, it has become one of the most popular Balinese tourist spots for photographs of the temple and the famed sunsets over the ocean. Most of the year Tanah lot is surrounded by high tides and seems to sit off the coast of the main island of Bali, but we had arrived during a very rare low tide.
We made our way through the cleverly arranged maze of market stalls selling almost every kitschy Balinese souvenir to the masses of the glowingly red sun-burnt, newly hair-braided tourists in their just then bought sarongs, but we quickly learnt that there was something different on this particular afternoon due to the amount of local Balinese also in the area. As we made our way up the hill to a vantage point overlooking the temple, we discovered that it was Buda Wage, an anniversary of Tanah Lot held every 6 months during the lowest of low tides. During this biannual event thousands of people from all over Bali come to pray and make offerings to the Balinese Gods, and the Gods of the sea.
As we made our way down the path, there were many local families traditionally dressed with woven baskets being carried on their heads also making their way towards the temple. Each basket of different sizes and colours is woven with the families name on the side and filled with foods, flowers and offerings to be made, to the Gods, once inside and praying in the temple of Tanah Lot.
There was a rather long wait for the locals to make their offerings as only a limited number of worshippers are allowed to make the low tide crossing onto the rock where the temple is located. The Rock and temple is believed to be guarded by poisonous sea snakes, including one giant sea snake. There were locals with a few sea snakes at the base of the rock, but I didn’t dare get close enough for a look let alone a picture!
As the local families patiently waited their turn to give their offerings they, along with the tourists, stopped to watch another spectacle of area, the famed sunset.
It was truly a beautiful scene, the locals with their offerings, the tourists with their cameras, and the sun setting over the ocean. It was truly a wonderful way to end my afternoon at Tanah Lot and the crowds, this time, didn’t bother me at all J.