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Tirta Empul Temple The Holy Water & Purification Ritual

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Tirta Empul Temple Tampaksiring
Tirta Empul Temple, Holy Water Pool. Img: Hafizan Hamid

Often overshadowed by its neighbor Ubud. The quiet district of Tampaksiring is a home for several interesting destinations in Bali. One of them is an important temple, called Tirta Empul Temple. The name Tirta Empul roughly means “water that spurt out from the ground”.

Referring to the springs located in this temple. Balinese believe that the spring water here holds holy properties. It is said that the God Indra himself pierced the earth to create these springs. According to the myth, the ancient king of Mayadenawa poisoned the God Indra’s army. As a form of disobedience toward the gods.

Angered by Mayadenawa’s maleficence, God Indra created a water source to counter Mayadenawa’s poison. He then defeated Mayadenawa. His triumph over Mayadenawa’s evilness is celebrated annually by Balinese as “Hari Raya Galungan” (Galungan Holiday).

Melukat in Tirta Empul Temple
The Outer Courtyard. A visitor is welcome to participate in the purification ritual. Img: Peter F

The temple is among a few temples in Bali with a holy water source (other being Ulun Danu Temple). Balinese perform Melukat, a bathing ritual to clean one’s body and soul, every year at Tirta Empul.

It’s among the most famous temples in Bali, with both locals and tourists participating in the Melukat procession. In 2017, former USA president Barack Obama and his family visited Tirta Empul during their holiday to Bali.

Tirta Empul Temple Bathing Ritual Melukat

The outer courtyard is called Jaba Pura. Nothing much in this section except a sacred banyan tree with impressive roots growing near a Balinese gate ‘Candi Bentar‘. A large hall is built for ceremonies and meetings, but on normal days it is more useful as a shade for tired visitors.

Fish Pond in Tirta Empul Temple
Fish Feeding is one of the attractions in Tirta Empul. Img; Thyas Pramesthi

Another gate and visitors will enter the center courtyard, called Jaba Tengah. It’s where the purification pools for the ritual Melukat. For non-Hindu visitors, depending on each person’s spirituality. Participating in a bath ritual here means either a spiritually rewarding experience.

Or a simply refreshing bath on cold mountain water. Either way, it’s just interesting to be part of this religious ritual. So, queue to get in the water and follow the examples of Balinese in front of you.

To perform Melukat ritual, one needs to dress in traditional sarong wrap around the body.  After praying, shortly before entering the water, proceed to the leftmost waterspout in the first pool. Pray and wash hands, face, and head with the holy water.

Purification Ritual in Tirta Empul
The Locals & Visitors queue to Purification Ritual. Img: Udang Gan

Continue to the next spout until the 13th, but skip spout number 11 and 12. These spouts are only for “Pitra Yadnya”, a ritual for the dead ones. Lastly, head to the second pool for the final bath.

Jeroan Tirta Empul Temple Inner Courtyard

Away from the crowd at Jaba Tengah and the purification pools, the inner courtyard is separated by low walls and another Candi Bentar gate. This is where worshipers pray after the purification bath. Visitors are allowed to be here and feel the tranquil atmosphere. While observing the rest of the ritual.

Priests will lead the solemn procession, ending the whole ritual with sprinkles of holy water and rice pressed in pamadek’s (the worshiper) forehead. Tirta Empul Temple courtyard is also where the springs come from. Water bubbling from below the earth in a sizable pond filled with green algae and small fish.

The Locals Ritual and Praying in Pura Tirta Empul
The Balinese Hindu Praying in Pura Tirta Empul. Img: Andreu Arenas

Ancient pipes channel the water from this pond to the purification pools next door. An interesting fact, the water also irrigate the rice paddies at the village nearby—another reason why Balinese are thankful for the springs existence. As visitors head to the exit, another pond full of koi swimming gleefully will provide a delightful goodbye.

Tampak Siring Presidential Palace

Overlooked by many tourists even locals seem to ignore it. There’s a small pathway at the west of the temple’s outer courtyard. The small path leads to a modern building above the hill, called Tampaksiring Presidential Palace.

Tampaksiring Palace is built by the first president of Indonesia, Soekarno, as a retreat and a guesthouse for diplomacy guests. Aside from being a destination for a quick history lesson, the palace is also a nice spot to get a sweeping view of Tirta Empul Temple downhill.

Tirta Empul Temple and Tampaksiring Palace
Tirta Empul Temple, Tampaksiring Palace, surrounded by the green lush tree. Img: Kok Choon

Join with many school students having a study tour here. They make up the majority of visitors. In contrast with pilgrims and tourists at the temple below. They roam the palace with curiosity, writing something on their notebooks. Or gather in small groups, listening to the teacher explained of the national landmark history.

Art enthusiasts will also love exploring this palace. Soekarno is known for his fondness toward art. His passion reveals by the statues, paintings, and decorations. Adorn every corner of the estate.

To get inside Tampaksiring Palace, submit an online application. At least 3 working days before the visiting day. There is a certain dress code and a camera is definitely not allowed inside the palace.

Tirta Empul Temple Opening Hours

The temple is open every day including weekends at 7:00 AM – 6:00 PM. Except in Nyepi day, where everything needs to stop.

Tirta Empul Opening Hours
Every day except Nyepi07:00 – 18:00 WITA

Nearby : Tampaksiring Palace, Step by Step To Visit Indonesian Palace. 

Tirta Empul Temple Entrance Fee

The entrance is Rp 50.000 per ticket. As in many other holy sites in Bali, visitors are required to wear respectful clothing. Both to cover shoulder and sarong to cover the knee. Planning to do the bathing ritual. Make sure to bring another sarong to change the wet one after the bath.

Tirta Empul Temple Entrance Fee

Nearby: Gunung Kawi Temple, The Royal’s Commemoration. 

Tirta Empul Temple Facilities

As the busiest temple in the region, the Tirta Empul Temple has more than enough facilities. Bathroom and parking are available (one parking ticket Rp 5000). Lockers to put belonging while visitors bath available for rent. Each at Rp 10,000. Restaurants and gift shops are plenty just outside the temple premises.

How To Get To Tirta Empul Temple

The best transport mode here is motorbike rental. It’s also the best way to enjoy the scenic view of Tampaksiring district. Along the way to the temple. Car rentals, ojek (motorcycle taxi) and regular taxi are other popular transports to get to the temple.

The route from Ubud is as follows: Ubud – Tampaksiring Street – continue to Ir. Soekarno Street -take the right turn to Tirta Street, where the temple is located. The journey takes only 30 minutes from Ubud downtown.


    • I hope you have enjoyed your visit as my last time here. Did you go with a guide?


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