Tirta Empul, Bali, is one of the largest and busiest water temples in Indonesia. The temple was founded in 926 A.D. and is dedicated to Vishnu, who is the Hindu god of water. The name of the temple actually means ‘holy water spring’ in Balinese.
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Overlooking the temple complex is a presidential palace that was built for Soekarno, the first President of Indonesia, in 1954. The government palace is now used as a place to host visiting dignitaries and important guests.
How to Get There
Tirta Empul is located close to the town of Tampaksiring in the village of Manukaya. The village is a 30-minute drive to the north of Ubud. Tirta Empul is clearly signposted from the town of Tampaksiring. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said if you are coming cross-country from the village of Sebatu.
The entrance to Tirta Empul is set away from the main road. There’s a large car park in the front of the temple, which is always full of tour buses and cars. You will need to put on a sarong before you can enter the temple. You can rent a sarong for a small donation at the entrance to the temple.
Like many of the temples around Ubud, Tirta Empul is open seven days a week. The opening hours for the temple are between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm. The entrance fee is Rp 15,000 for an adult and Rp 7,500 for a child for locals and Rp50,000 per person for foreigners.
Tirta Empul Holy Water Temple
Tirta Empul is a large temple complex and it takes at least 30 minutes to an hour to explore the entire site. There are four main parts to the temple. As soon as you pay the entrance fee for the temple you walk through the large stone Balinese doorway and arrive in the central courtyard of the temple. This area of the temple is called ‘Jaba Pura.’
The Central Courtyard
The central courtyard of Tirta Empul is a large open space paved underneath with worn stone. The courtyard is enclosed on three sides by large stone walls. Dominating the right side of the courtyard is a large open-air pavilion.
Tourists mingle in small groups around the courtyard and local sellers gather around offering small bananas to tourists. At the end of the courtyard are two large doorways built into the wall. If you walk through this doorway you arrive in the inner courtyard.
The Jaba Tengah is the most famous part of Tirta Empul temple. This section contains the two purification pools. The water in the pools is believed to have magical powers and local Balinese come here to purify themselves under the 30 water spouts that feed the pools.
When I visited Tirta Empul the central yard was overflowing with people. It was like a cross section of Bali in a space no more than five meters wide and 20 meters long. Tourists from every country stood along the edges of the pools taking photos. Local Balinese and Hindu worshippers stood in long snaking lines in the pools, waiting to dip their heads below the water spouts.
As you stand in the inner courtyard you’ll quickly notice that the people in the baths follow a purification ritual. Bathers start in the pool on the left and dip themselves under the first water spout. Once they have cleansed themselves under the first spout they join the next queue. They continue this process until they have been cleansed under each of the 30 waterspouts that fill the two purification pools.
Behind the purification pools is the final section of Tirta Empul holy water temple, the Jeroan. The Jeroan, or ‘inner courtyard’ is overlooked by most of the tourists who visit Tirta Empul. It’s a nice place to visit and relax after the hustle and bustle of the purification pools.
The inner courtyard is where people come to pray. The front part of the courtyard is dominated by the large water spring that feeds the purification pools. The spring is filled with green algae and small fish swim between the reeds. Behind the spring are large Hindu shrines.
This part of the temple is nice to quickly explore. The shrines are brightly decorated, which contrasts with the starched white clothing of the Balinese who come here to pray. It’s a nice place to take photos or just sit down and relax for a few minutes.
The Koi Pool
As you exit Tirta Empul water temple you pass through the final section, the large koi pool. This section of the temple is walled off on all four sides from the rest of the complex, which gives it a calm and relaxing atmosphere. Fat koi swim lazily in the pond waiting for their next meal from the tourists.
On the right hand side of the pond is a row of small stalls selling the usual mix of tourist trinkets. I’d avoid shopping here and just go straight to the exit of the temple.
I liked visiting Tirta Empul water temple. This is definitely one of the busiest temples that I have visited in Bali. It was interesting to see what an active temple is like, to see people praying and bathing under the waterspouts.
If you’re planning to go to Tirta Empul I’d definitely recommend combining it with a visit to one of the other temples nearby. Pura Gunung Kawi Sebatu is a nice option as it’s very calm. I’d also recommend Pura Gunung Kawi, which is located very close to Tirta Empul.
Have you visited Tirta Empul? Did you enjoy your visit to the temple? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.