Balinese temple

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Richly adorned Kori Agung gate and pavilions within Pura Dalem Agung Padantegal compounds in Bali

A Pura is a Balinese Hindu temple.[1] and the place of worship for the adherents of Balinese Hinduism in Indonesia. Most of the puras are found on the island of Bali, as Hinduism is the predominant religion in the island; however many puras exist in other parts of Indonesia where there are significant numbers of Balinese people. Mother Temple of Besakih is the most important, the largest and holiest temple in Bali.[2] A large number of puras have been built in Bali, leading it to gain the nickname "the Island of a Thousand Puras".


The term pura originates from the Sanskrit word (-pur, -puri, -pura, -puram, -pore), meaning "city", "walled city", "towered city", or "palace". During the development of the Balinese language the term pura came to refer to a religious temple complex, while the term puri came to refer to palace, the residence of kings and nobles, similar to Javanese kratons.

Design and layout[edit]

The pagoda-like tiered roofs tower of Pelinggih Meru is the distinctive feature of Balinese temple

Unlike the common towering indoor Indian Hindu temple, puras are designed as an open air place of worship within enclosed walls, connected with a series of intricately decorated gates between its compounds. This walled compounds contains several shrines, meru (towers), and bale (pavilions). The design, plan and layout of the pura follows the trimandala concept of Balinese space allocation.[3] Three mandala zones arranged according to a sacred hierarchy:

  1. Nista mandala (jaba pisan): the outer zone, which directly connects the pura compound with the outer realm, and the entrance to the temple. This zone usually takes the form of an open field or a garden that can be used for religious dance performances, or act as an additional space for preparations during religious festivals.
  2. Madya mandala (jaba tengah): the middle zone of the temple, where the activity of adherents takes place, and also the location for supporting facilities of the temple. In this zone usually several pavilions are built, such as the bale kulkul (wooden Slit drum tower), bale gong (gamelan pavilion), wantilan (meeting pavilion), bale pesandekan, and bale perantenan, the temple's kitchen.
  3. Utama mandala (jero): the holiest and the most sacred zone within the pura. This enclosed and typically highest of the compounds usually contains a padmasana, the towering lotus throne of the highest god, Acintya (or as he is often known to modern Balinese, Ida Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa). Pelinggih meru, the multiple roofed tower, is similar in design to Chinese or Japanese pagodas. The most sacred compound also contains several pavilions, such as bale pawedan (vedic chanting pavilion), bale piyasan, bale pepelik, bale panggungan, bale murda, and gedong penyimpenan (storehouse of the temple's relics).

However, the layout rules for arrangements the facilities of the two outer zones, nista mandala and madya mandala, are somewhat flexible. Several structures, such as the bale kulkul, could be built as outer corner tower; also, the perantenan (temple's kitchen) could be located in the Nista mandala.


Candi bentar split gate of Pura Beji
Roofed kori agung at the Bali Pavilion of Taman Mini Indonesia Indah

There are two types of gates within Balinese architecture: the split gate, known as candi bentar,[4] and the roofed tower gate in Paduraksa style, usually called kori agung. Both types of gates have specific roles in Balinese architectural design. Candi bentar is the gate used in the nista mandala, while the kori agung is employed as the gate between the madya mandala and Utama mandala inner compounds. The rules for gate types are also valid for non-religious compounds such as puri, nobles' and kings' residences.

Types of pura[edit]

There are several types of pura, each serving certain functions of Balinese rituals throughout the Balinese calendar.

Sad Kahyangan[edit]

The Sad Kahyangan, Sad Kahyangan Jagad or the "six temples of the world" are the six supremely holy temples in Bali.[5] According to Balinese beliefs, they are the pivotal points of the island. They are:

Other famous puras in Bali include Tanah Lot in Tabanan, where two puras were built on a coastal rock overlooking the Indian Ocean as the shrine to honor sea deities.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Temples in Bali". Bali Directory. Retrieved 2010-07-21. 
  2. ^ "Mount Agung and Pura Besakih". Sacred Destinations. Archived from the original on 11 July 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-20. 
  3. ^ "Traditional Balinese Architecture". School of Architecture, Faculty of Engineering, Udayana University. Retrieved 2010-07-20. 
  4. ^ "Bali:The Land of Temples". Retrieved 2010-07-20. 
  5. ^ "Sacred Sites of Bali". Sacred Sites. Archived from the original on 21 July 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-20.