There is an abundance of magical places here on the island, including special holy water temples. Knowing that the Balinese see water as a symbol of life and purification, I thought that it would be the best Balinese method to heal and cleanse my way to wellness. So, I visited Tirta Empul and Tirta Sudamala – two famous holy water temples – to tickle my spiritual side and purify mind, body and soul.
Located in the Tampak Siring village, Tirta Empul has always been a magnet for Balinese worshipers looking to bathe in its healing waters. The name “Tirta Empul” refers to the spring found within this temple; it is the source for the purification baths, pools and ponds, whose waters will finally find their way to the Tukad Pakerisan River. The Balinese Hindus flock to the clean, cool springs because they believe these waters offer wellness and have magical curative properties – cleansing people of physical and non-physical impurities. As it is a holy site, anyone visiting Tirta Empul (and Tirta Sudamala) is expected to wear decent clothing and a sarong, which is provided outside the premises for free.
As you catch your first sight of the temple, you will notice the beautiful gardens and pathways, decorated with intricately engraved statues and tropical plants. Then you will be directed to the blissful bathing pools that are filled with the fresh mountain spring waters, clear, cooling the skin on first touch. A soothing surge of calm as you immerse yourself. Legend has it that this sacred spring was created by the god Indra; His forces had been poisoned by his enemy, Mayadanawa, so Indra pierced the earth to create a fountain of immortality to revive his men. I can see why this place is so important to the Balinese.
My next visit was Tirta Sudamala, deep within a thicket of upland trees in the centre of Bebalang Village. The word Sudamala itself means ‘purification’, and here at this holy temple, it isn’t just your body that is purified, but also your mind and soul. I felt enlightened as I walked inside, surrounded by the greens of the jungle and the growing moss on the temple stones. Chants and prayers could be heard at all corners. It is never quiet around the bathing area, where streams of water come out from the wall, water so clean that the locals use it as their drinking water.
I went down to the river and slowly dipped my body in the water. It was refreshing, with flows of both warm and cold currents moving around me. It is said that those who are struggling with life’s challenges will benefit from bathing in the waters, which wash away ambiguity and lead to a spiritual awakening. The waters of Tirta Sudamala are also believed to cure illnesses and cleanse auras. As for me, I certainly felt an invigorating wave of positivity and energy as I stood beneath the holy flow of water. It is an ideal location for praying, meditation and reflection.
As a man of faith myself, visiting these holy spring temples (despite being Hindu places of worship) I certainly found comfort and felt blessed after my experiences. Whether you are religious, spiritual or nothing at all, a plunge into the cleansing holy waters of Bali is surely an wellness experience you won’t forget.
Tirta Empul Temple
Jalan Tirta, Tampaksiring, Gianyar Regency
Tirta Sudamala Temple
Bebalang Village, Bangli Regency
Photos by Elnino Irawan