Tirta Empul - The Sacred Spring

The next stop was the temple of Tirta Empul - the "Holy Spring Temple" in the village of Tampaksiring. It's one of the most beautiful temples we've seen, and one of the most sacred spots in Bali.

Twelve water spouts pour holy water from 12 sacred springs into a long pool.

Some Balinese women were making offerings at the springs and collecting holy water in an old soda bottle.

We asked if it would be alright for us to take some too, and of course it was. There were huge koi fish swimming in the pools.

It's a very peaceful place, with the sound of the water splashing into the pool.

The main temple courtyard is beautiful, with many shrines and pavilions, one for Bhrama, Siwa and Wisnu, one for Mt. Batur, and one for Indra (Dewi Indra) which is for us all to pray at.

Several people were praying and making offerings, while two priests looked on from a side pavilion.

We struck up a conversation with a young man, asking him what the different pavilions were for. Of course, the conversation eventually got around to us playing gamelan in America, and out came the photo album to much amazement and laughter. The two men with the young man turned out to be his father and grandfather, and the grandfather was the leader of the gamelan, and had been playing for over 50 years! They asked us what pieces we played, and were delighted and repeated the titles in recognition as we recited them - "Sekar Sandat, ah yes, Topeng Tua, Topeng Keras, good, good!". The old man played drums, but also gangsa and trompong, and was very happy that we knew what a trompong was! Wonderful moments like this were the constant delights of this trip. Finally they excused themselves to go and pray, but not until we'd taken their picture. Here they are - the grandfather at left, and the father and son at right, with other family members between them.

Overlooking the temple is an incongruous-looking modern building on a hill, with manicured lawns and shifty-eyed security guards. Someone tells us it is President Suharto's summer residence.

In the temple grounds are also two large bathing pools, the size of Olympic-sized swimming pools, where several people were bathing. The water from the springs here is said to have magical healing powers. I wonder what the water we collected will do! Tirta Empul is one of the most beautiful temples we have seen on our entire trip.

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Photos: Astrid, Martin and Julia Randall
All content copyright (c) 2002, Astrid, Martin and Julia Randall