On our day of Bali explorations with friends, Kevin and Charity (fellow expats living in China), we ended up at Mengwi Temple after a busy morning of driving around and sightseeing. We probably should have been more specific when we were telling our driver what we wanted to do for the day. We sort of left it open, because we are all “go with the flow” kind of people, but he ended up taking us to temple after temple. We wanted variety and, above all, we wanted to avoid the crowds. Unfortunately for us, we were in Bali during one of the most popular Hindu celebrations. This meant that temples were PACKED and moving around was quite difficult. When our driver dropped us at the gate of this particular temple, we were all a little apprehensive. In fact, we weren’t sure that we wanted to go in at all. We didn’t want to pay for another attraction if we weren’t really interested in seeing it. There was a massive market around the entrance way leading to the temple. The mixture of motor cycles, people, and food vendors, was suffocating. There was barely any space to walk, and the heat was unbelievable. We decided, despite the initial apprehension, to take a look at the temple. In fact, we tried to “sneak in” so that we could take a quick look and then leave – but that’s another story all together!
Mengwi Temple or ” Taman Ayun Temple ” literally transited means beautiful garden, and this temple, situated in the village of Mengwi, 18 Km west of Denpasar, is indeed one of Bali’s most picturesque temple. It’s stately proportioned courtyards and large surrounding moat were built in the year 1627 B.C. Following the pattern of most Balinese temples, Pura Taman Ayun has three connecting temple yards. The innermost sanctum is know as “Utama Mandala” (the highest circle), the middle yard as “Madia Mandala” (the circle in-between) and outer as “Nista Mandala” (the humblest circle). To enter the main sanctum one must pass through a raised Gateway, know as the Kori Agung (Paduraksa), and the gateway, between the outer and middle connect in split gate known as “Candi Bentar”.
Above, The pathway leading to the temple doesn’t look too crowded, does it? Well to get that shot I had to crouch down and wait for about three minutes for a moment where there weren’t people and bikes filling this area. When I eventually stood up I had completely lost the others! Thankfully Justin is a lot taller than most of the locals AND he was wearing a bright green t-shirt! The reality is that the rest of the path pretty much looked like this… (and the crowd got thicker the closer we got to the temple)
Covering 4 hectares of land, this temple is surrounded by a large moat, which used to be fully of lotus and lily flowers of all colours, and around the edges of the moat are a variety of perfumed flowering trees, as well as mangostein, durian, mango and rambutan fruit tress.
We entered what I assume was the the middle yard, known as “Madia Mandala” (the circle in-between), and walked around taking pictures, admiring the view, and running around with Elijah. The little man was actually not feeling too well (as you can tell from the picture below) but at some stage during our time here he perked up and starting exploring. We took some precious photos of him running along the temple walls, and playing with some local children, but we will have to do a separate post on that since – of course – there are just too many pictures.
Once we had taken in our share of the gardens and temple, we made our way back out to the main road. There was no shortage of food on sale, but with the massive crowds out for this religious holiday, we thought we might find somewhere a little quieter to cool off. The humidity was sweltering, and we were all starting to feel like we need some refueling.
The great thing about hiring a private driver in Bali is that they will sit and wait for you while you go exploring. At first we felt a little bad that this well-dressed man would have to sit by the side of the street, in the heat, and wait for us. However he assured us that this was his job, and that he would get something to eat, talk to fellow drivers, or just take a nap. It seemed as though he was perfectly happy waiting around for us.