Like a ship of stone afloat in the sky, Pura Luhur Uluwatu is one of the most spectacular Hindu temples in Bali. The temple is carved into the cliff of the Bukit Peninsula, on the southern bank of the island of Gods, Bali.
It's one of the six most valued temples on the islands and located on one of the biggest, and more touristy areas of Bali, Badung Regency. The name Uluwatu was derived from ulu meaning head and watu meaning rock. You can remember Uluwatu as the temple built upon the head of a rocky cliff.
Besides this temple being one of Bali's ancient site, it is also well known for the delightful sunsets over the Indian Ocean. For this reason, it remains a top destination for visitors when on holiday in Bali.
Uluwatu temple was built by the Japanese High Priest, DangHyang Nirartha, in the 11th Century during his journey to Bali. Due to the tri-level roof atop this temple, locals believe it was dedicated into the Triniti Gods: Brahma, Whisnu, and Siwa. In fact, the Balinese Hindu believe that their three divine powers become one in this place. For this reason, Uluwatu Temple is considered a temple to Siwa Rudra, the Balinese Hindu deity of all elements and aspects of life in the universe.
The temple is enshrouded by a small dry forest called Alas Kekeran, meaning interdict forest. The forest belongs to the temple and it is ruled by hundreds of monkeys. They are believed to guard the temple against bad influences. To assist the guardians of the temple, a serpentine pathway to the temple is fortified by a concrete wall on the hillside.
Behind the main shrine in one of the courtyards of the temple lies Brahmin statue facing the Indian Ocean. It is believed this statue was crafted to represent DangHyang Nirartha. The entrance to the temple is a split gate with leaf and flowers carvings. On both sides of the entrance gate, there is sculpture shaped like a human body with an elephant head. This is Ganesha, god of beginnings, guarding the gate of the Pura Luhur Uluwatu.