In every village in Bali, there are several temples and at least one small one in each home. One can therefore safely say that there are more temples than homes in Bali. Most of these temples are shrines and might not be regarded as actual temples, but the number of walled compounds is believed to reach to a total of 10,000.
The hallowed spring of Tirta Empul in Tampaksiring dates from legendary times. In popular folklore, it was made by lndra when he pierced the earth to create a spring of amerta, the elixir of immortality, with which he revived his forces who were poisoned by Mayadanawa.
The waters are believed to have magic curative powers. Every year people journey from all over Bali to purify themselves in the clear pools. After leaving a small offering to the deity of the spring, men and women go either side to bathe. On the full moon of the fourth month each year, the villagers from nearby Manukaya take a sacred stone to be cleansed at Tirta Empul.
When the weathered inscription found qp the stone was deciphered, it gave the bate of Tirta Empul's foundation as A.D. 962 and described the cleansing ceremony. For a. thousand years these villagers had been abiding,. by this tradition without having been aware of the meaning incised on the stone!
In 1969 the temple at Tampaksiring was completely renovated. Many of the shrines were built anew and painted in bright colors. Outside the temple are rows of sales stands where you may buy souvenirs-the bargain being carved bone jewelry.
On the hill above the sacred spring is the Government Palace built in 1954. Once a resting place for Dutch officials, the site was chosen by former President Soekarno as his residence during his frequent trips to the island. South of Tirta Empul, on a line joining with Gunung Kawi, is Pura Mengening.
There is a definite connection between these three places. At the latter temple there is a freestanding candi similar to those candle the facades of which are hewn from the rock at Gunung Kawi. Like Tirta Empul, the temple has a spring of pure water, which is also a source of the River Pakrisan. Pura Mengening might be the commemorative temple of King Udayana.
Location map of Tampaksiring temple
Last revised on October 11, 2009
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