When researching where to go and what to do in Bali the 16th century ‘Pura Tanah Lot’, which means Tanah Lot Temple, came up a lot in my search results. Tanah Lot means Land Sea. It is an off shore (200 metres) temple built on a lava rock which has been shaped over many years by the waves hitting it day in day out. It is a firm favourite on the tourist trail therefore one we could not miss out on. There are hundreds, possibly thousands of temples in Bali but this one by far was the busiest one we visited. The temple is believed to be the work of Dang Hyang Nirartha in the 15th or 16th century (both are quoted). This temple is one of 7 which are dotted along the south-western coast of Bali, each within sight of the next.
Following major restoration in the 1980’s after years of erosion a lot of the rock at the base of the temple is now actually artificial to ensure that the temple remains stable and safe. Please note that only Hindu’s are allowed into the temple however non Hindu’s are allowed to walk to the foot of the temple at low tide which does give up an up close view. We booked an afternoon tour with Tour Bali via Viator, prior to arriving in Bali, which consisted of visiting Mengwi Temple, Alas Kedaton Monkey Forest and finally Tanah Lot for sunset. After whizzing around the first two attractions we arrived at Tanah Lot at around 3.00pm. I thought our guide had got us there that early because there were things to do and see there – wrong! He got us there that early so we could see the temple, have a quick walk around and then hit the road before it got to its busiest time of sunset and his driver got stuck in traffic!
To get to the Tanah Lot temple, Batu Bolong Temple (another temple on the same site) or the lookout point to look over the temple it is first necessary to walk down a street filled with shops, market stalls and street hawkers. This is great, if like me you wanted to grab a drink. The shops here sell the same stuff and souvenirs that most/all shops in Bali do and as we had already bought all the gifts we wanted/needed we quickly walked on by. Due to the October late afternoon sun and the number of people here it was hot, hot, hot. If you are fair skinned like me – don’t forget sun protection. Even after 10 minutes of wandering around I turned pink! We found a lot of school children here who all wanted to take photographs with tourists. I must have been asked what felt like a million times in the short period we were actually there. Our guide explained that it was part of a school project but did not expand any further. By the 3rd photograph I politely started saying ‘no thank you’ as I would have never got out of there if I had said yes to each and every one.
Knowing our guide’s little plan of rushing around Tanah Lot and getting us on the road before the rush post sunset, I decided to walk slowly and take my time. Now let’s be honest, even if I had taken baby steps the whole time I was there, there was no way I was going to stretch it out to 6.00pm. So, admitting defeat we took one last look out over the sea and over to the beautiful, unique temple before jumping back in our car and hitting the road. Yes I was fuming at the time that we weren’t there for sunset but looking back now I’m glad that I didn’t kick off at the time. By all accounts it becomes uncomfortably busy with not enough space for everyone there. So maybe it was for the best that we were in and out before the crowds descended. It meant that we could view the area at our leisure with uninterrupted views of both the sea and the temple and still be back at our villa in Sanur to jump in our pool before the sun went down.