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.
A turnoff toward the mountain leads to the principality of Mengwi which, until 1891, was the center of a powerful kingdom originating from the Gelgel dynasty. These kings continue to be venerated in the state temples of Mengwi, in particular Pura Taman Ayun.
In Bali, each social unit-of increasing size beginning with the family-possesses a temple wherein they worship deified ancestors. The family ancestors are worshiped in the house temple, the clan ancestors in the clan temple, the founders of a village in the Pura Puseh, and previously the ancestors of a royal dynasty were collectively worshiped by a kingdom in the state temples. State temples include mountain temples, sea temples, and those at the heart of the kingdom, such as Mengwi's Pura "Taman Ayun".
Among the rows of palinggih, (shrines that serve as "sitting places" to receive visiting deities during temple feasts) is a brick building facing east: the paibon, a royal ancestral altar. In the surrounding pavilions, priests recite prayers, village elders hold council, offerings are prepared, furniture and the temple's musical instruments are stored.
For those interested in traditional woodcarving, the small doors of the shrines here are beautifully carved. The moat gives the impression of a sanctuary in the middle of a pond, explaining the name taman, "garden with a pond". The waters are a symbolic place of contact with the divine through widadaris, celestial nymphs who bathe there.
Location map of Taman Ayun Mengwi temple
Last revised on October 11, 2009
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