Tanah Lot in Bali is famous for its temple that stands majestically on top of a large off-shore rock formation, which has been shaped by the ocean tide over the years. The breath-taking Pura Tanah Lot (or Tanah Lot Temple) is popular among conservationists, religious pilgrims, and top nature photographers from all over the world.
According to local beliefs and folk stories, Tanah Lot was built in the 15th Century by Danghyang Nirartha, a well known Balinese priest and traveler who founded the Shaivite priesthood. He was also known as Pedanda Shakti Wawu Rauh. He came to Tanah Lot on the southern coast of Bali and was amazed to see the iconic rock formation. As he rested along the huge rock, local fishermen were delighted to see him and so bought him gifts. He stayed for the night and later told the fishermen to build a shrine on top of the rock since he was convinced that it was a holy place. He instructed them to worship the Balinese sea gods here.
The Tanah Lot temple was indeed built, but no one knows for sure the actual details how this magnificent structure was constructed on top of the rock formation. Another legend surrounding the Tanah Lot temple is that in order to protect it, the priest left his scarf behind, which later turned into a giant snake. Today, there are indeed scores of sea snakes living within the base of the rocky island. They are believed to be there in order to ward off evil spirits.
In 1980, this ancient temple was in serious danger of crumbling into the sea. Worried for the worst, the Japanese Government offered a US$130 million loan to the Indonesian Government for the temple’s restoration, as well as of other Bali attractions. Japanese engineers supervised the restoration and fortification program. Today, the rocks directly supporting the temple below are actual artificial rocks. They have been fortified with steel and concrete.
Other than viewing the temple, visitors come here to see the nearby Surya Mandala Cultural Park and take part in its regular exhibits, art performances, and international conferences. Others come to check out the other temples, which include the Pakendungan Temple, Enjung Galuh Temple and Batu Bolong Temple, while others come simply to relax and enjoy the view. Tanah Lot also has a huge 5,000-seat banquet area, restaurants, art shops and a hotel.
While tourism is encouraged here, visitors are allowed to enter the temple for the primary purpose of praying. It is a religious structure first and foremost. For this reason, anyone entering Pura Tanah Lot should be dressed decently and politely. Shoulders and knees must not be bare. Admission fees are 7,500 Rp for local adults, 5,000 Rp for local children, and 10,000 Rp for foreign tourists. Parking for motorcycles is 2,000 Rp, cars for 5,000 Rp, and buses for 10,000 Rp. Political and religious leaders in Indonesia and other countries around the world have been to this spectacular site. It is located in Beraban Village, in the sub-province of Tabanan, about 22 km from the capital city of Denpasar.