Uluwatu Temple


Uluwatu is a temple of some antiquity, difficult to date. Because very hard, dark grey coral stone was used for its construction, the sharply cut decoration is much better preserved than most Balinese monuments. Some damage has been caused by monkeys who climb up and down the steep slopes and jump about on the walls and gates, thus loosening the stones.
The outermost gateway is a split gate (Candi Bentar), exceptional in that the two inner sides of the halves were not left smooth but end in curved wings. The front and back surfaces are decorated with stylized birds. The gates main dexoration especially in the transition to the inner courtyard consists of various Kala (monster) heads, partly one eyed, partly two eyed. There are also triangular ornaments ending in a birds beak, either isolated or in pairs. In short the gateway provides a catalogue of various kala heads (similar to the ornamentation of old Balinese house posts, likewise consisting of kalas). As celestial symbols these kala heads fully deserve their place at the entrance to the Holy of Holies. Some of the kala heads support a symbolic representation of the Cosmic Mountain, Mount Meru. Above the large head near the second gates top, there is an Amrta vessel. (Balinese as well as Javanese temples are often considered replicas of Mount Meru, their central buildings as well as their gateways shaped and decorated accordingly. There is also a close connection between Meru and Amrta, the former thought to contain this nectar of immortality). The inner gateway is flanked by a very unusual feature: Ganesas (Elephant gods) as guardians.

The southern part of the Bukit used to be a wild, in hospitable country. Approaching Pura Uluwatu was strictly forbidden to anyone but the prince of Badung. He owned it and once a year visited to perform his offerings. After the 1906 expedition against Badung, resulting in the prince’s death, Nieuwenkamp was the first to enter the temple. One year and a half before his visit part of the temple fell into the sea.
The use of coral stone, the decorative design and the Ganesa gatekeepers recall another pura on the opposite side of the Bukit: Pura Sakenan on the island of Serangan.
Now, Uluwatu is the famous tourist destination in Bali Island many visited by tourists especially in the afternoon to see the Kecak performance with spectacular sunset in the backdrop of a Hindu Temple set on the cliff bank. Uluwatu temple easily can reach in 45 minutes from the airport or 30 minutes from central of Nusa Dua.