Pura Tanah Lot
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A popular day trip from south Bali, Pura Tanah Lot is the most visited and photographed temple in Bali, especially at sunset when crowds and traffic overwhelm the site. It has all the authenticity of a stage set – even the tower of rock that the temple sits upon is an artful reconstruction (the entire structure was crumbling). Over one-third of the rock you see is artificial.
For the Balinese, Pura Tanah Lot is one of the most important and venerated sea temples. Like Pura Luhur Ulu Watu, at the tip of the southern Bukit Peninsula, and Pura Rambut Siwi to the west, it is closely associated with the Majapahit priest Nirartha. It’s said that each of the sea temples was intended to be within sight of the next, so they formed a chain along Bali’s southwestern coast – from Pura Tanah Lot you can usually see the clifftop site of Pura Ulu Watu far to the south, and the long sweep of sea shore west to Perancak, near Negara.
But at Tanah Lot itself you may just see from one vendor to the next. To reach the temple, a walkway runs through a sideshow of souvenir shops down to the sea. To ease the task of making purchases, there is an ATM.
You can walk over to the temple itself at low tide, but non-Balinese people are not allowed to enter. One other thing: local legend has it that if you bring a partner to Tanah Lot before marriage, you will end up as split as the temple. Let that be a warning – or an inducement.
You won’t be able to miss the looming Pan Pacific Nirwana resort with its water-sucking golf course. It has been controversial since the day it was built, as many feel its greater height shows the temple disrespect.