Located on a steep shoreline, Tanah Lot Temple looks so beautiful. When the tide is high, Tanah Lot Temple looks like floating land in the middle of the beach. Visitors can only set foot in this place when the seawater begins to recede.
Around Tanah Lot Temple there are many caves. It is formed by seawater constantly eroding its corals. These caves later became a living place for tame sea snakes. It is said that these snakes are animals belonging to the gods who inhabit the temple to guard the sacred area of Tanah Lot Temple. Therefore it cannot be disturbed.
Tanah Lot Temple, one of the sacred places of worship for Hindus in Bali, stands on a rock on the beachside of Beraban Village, Kediri District, Tabanan Regency. The history of Tanah Lot Temple is related to a legend about a Javanese brahmin from around the 16th century named Danghyang Nirartha or also known as Danghyang Dwijendra or Pedanda Sakti Wau Rauh.
It is said that Nirartha managed to win the sympathy of the Balinese people to embrace Hinduism. This made Bendesa Beraban, the ruler of Tanah Lot envious. Moreover, many of his followers turned to Nirartha. So, Bendesa forced Nirartha to leave Tanah Lot.
Nirartha agreed. But before leaving, he used his magic to move a large rock into the middle of the beach and build a temple on it. He also changed his shawl into a snake to guard the temple. In the end, Bendesa became a follower of Nirartha.
In a cultural study from Udayana University, Ida Bagus Gede Agastia on the Balinese papyrus manuscript of Dwijendra Tattwa, it was found that Danghyang Nirartha was a religious expert from the Majapahit Kingdom. After the fall of Majapahit, Nirartha went to Pasuruan, Blambangan, and Bali. In Bali, he was appointed as a padiksyan (royal priest) Gelgel ruled by King Baturenggong. He often makes spiritual trips around Bali, Nusa Penida, and Lombok.
“The trip around Bali by Danghyang Nirartha is one manifestation of the effort to organize religious life on this island,” explained Agastia.
In several places where Nirartha visited, several temples were built, including Tanah Lot, Uluwatu Temple, and Rambut Siwi Temple.
The establishment of the temple in Tabanan is described in Dwijendra Tatwa. It is said, while on the beach, Nirartha saw a small island that seemed very sacred in the middle of the ocean. There was a desire to make a holy place there. To fishermen who were looking for fish, he told the villagers to build a holy place which was later called Pura Pakendungan. Agastia said that Pakendungan Temple is now better known as Tanah Lot Temple.
A A. Rai Sita Laksmi, lecturer at the Faculty of Letters at Warmadewa University, in “Managing the Cultural Heritage of Tanah Lot Temple as a Tourist Attraction in Beraban Village, Kediri District, Tabanan” published in the Archaeological Forum Vol. 27 No. November 3, 2014, questioned Dwijendra Tatwa’s description. Because Tanah Lot Temple is in the middle of the sea. Meanwhile, Pakendungan Temple is a subak temple located on the mainland, which is northwest of Tanah Lot Temple.
“The change in name from Pakendungan to Tanah Lot is not known,” he said.
I Made Girinata in the Sacred Area of Tanah Lot Temple and Tourist Destinations said that historical evidence has not been found that explains when, who, and on what basis Tanah Lot Temple was founded. Some sources, including Dwijendra Tatwa, only link Tanah Lot Temple with the history of the journey of the clergy Nirartha. It is not explained that it was Nirartha who built the Tanah Lot Temple.
In addition, I Made Girinata added that long before Nirartha’s arrival, religious activities in Bali were very steady. People also know to make temples. It is proven by the existence of the Gelgel Temple and the Besakih Temple which are used as one of the sad kahyangan (six main temples) for the whole of Bali.
“Regarding Tanah Lot Temple, it is not impossible that Dang Hyang Nirartha also reminded the people around Tanah Lot Temple to pay more attention to the greatness of God (Ida Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa) and all His manifestations by always doing prostration and making places of worship. a place of worship” said Girinata.
Tanah Lot Temple itself is classified into dang kahyangan or a place built to honor sacred teachers who have come to give religious teachings.
From its structure, Tanah Lot Temple has two pages: the outer courtyard or jabaan and the inner courtyard or innards. The outer courtyard is an open courtyard without walls. However, this is a sacred area as not everyone is allowed to enter. Except for praying. In the outer courtyard, there are two entrances. The entrance is on the east side and the north side. The inner courtyard is limited by a perimeter wall. There are several buildings or shrines. There are also menhirs and fragments of the phallus.
“Menhirs are remnants of the megalithic tradition in the form of erect, rough, and uncultivated stones”, but it was placed by humans on purpose somewhere as a medium of respect and became a symbol of the people being commemorated,” explained Rai Sita Laksmi.
Every year, Tanah Lot is visited by millions of domestic and foreign tourists. You could say this place has become one of the icons of Bali tourism. Tanah Lot has also become a favorite spot for photographers. The most popular view from this area is when the temple is set against the backdrop of the sun.
Near Tanah Lot Temple there is another smaller temple. There are Pakendungan Temples, Penataran Temples, Pengawang Temples, and others.
If you want to visit Tanah Lot, you have to travel a distance of 13 km from Tabanan. From Denpasar City, the distance is about 22 km. Meanwhile, Ngurah Rai Airport is about 25 kilometers away and can be reached in about 45 minutes.