It would be impossible to visit Bali and not see the temples. Mostly because they are everywhere! Bali has been called the land of a thousand temples, and it is an apt description. Temples large and small are dot the Balinese landscape. In fact, there are tens of thousands of temples in Bali, from the simple to the ornate, from the very large, to the very small. There are so many temples in Bali that the government doesn't even bother counting them. In Bali the word for temple is Pura. Both words are used here.

In Balinese-Hinduism it is believed that the mountains are for the gods, the flat lands are for the people, and the sea is for the demons. (One of the reasons the ancient Balinese did not do much ocean navigation!) It most villages you will find temples for all three. The Pura Puseh is the most important temple, for honoring and worshiping the gods, the Pura Desa will be for the people. This temple is for the spirits that bless and protect the people. The third type of temple, Pura Dalem, is used to appease the demons and to ask for protection from the spirits.

The best time to visit a temple is during it's festival day. This only happens once per year for each temple, however, there are so many temples that it should not be difficult to find a temple festival. When visiting the temples it is important to show respect. Women should not wear shorts or have bare shoulders. There is a prohibition against blood on sacred ground, so anyone who is bleeding, including women during their cycle, should not visit the temples. Never stand directly in front of the priest, or be at a level above the priest's head. No flash photography. Kneel when others kneel and in general, try to blend in and do what others do. Men may be asked to wear a sash. These can be rented, but if you are going to be visiting a lot of temples it might make sense to buy your own.

The one temple you shouldn't miss on your trip to Bali is Basakih. It is often called the Mother Temple and is located high on Mount Agung. It is the most important temple in Bali. There are over 22 structures, some dating back to the 14th century. Located here are shrines to Shiva, Brahma, and Vishnu.

One of the oldest temples in Bali is Pura Luhur Batu Karu. It is located 10 km west of Bedugul. It overlooks a lake which has a temple to the goddess of Lake Tamblingan.

If you like bats you'll love Goa Lawah Temple. A sacred site for Brahma, the temple is located in a cave filled with bats. It is said the caves may go all the way to Basakih. If bats are not your style you might prefer the Sangeh Monkey Sanctuary. Watch your belongings as you visit this temple surrounded by tall nutmeg trees. The monkeys are sneaky thieves! They particularly like glasses and keys.

So during your visit to Bali, make sure to enjoy the architecture, the sculpture, the festivities, and the sacredness of the Balinese temples.

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