The translation of this temple’s name puts the strong emphasis on the sea. The Sea Temple or The Temple in the Middle of the Sea or The Land in the Middle of the Sea are some of the well-known names for this genuine temple. The temple itself is situated in the south-east part of the island.
The Tanah Lot Temple is located on the cliff’s edge very close to the shore. It can be approached only during the periods of the low tide. The entrance to the temple is less than hundred steps away from the sandy beaches. It worth mentioning that this temple is not open for the tourist visits. In addition, only the priests are allowed to enter its premises.
The central place within the temple is reserved for the five altars which are called Meruses. They are built to honor the god Mer. During the periods of high tides this temple is transformed into an island. In one particular part of the temple at the island’s bottom there is a small spring of fresh water within the cave. This place is of great importance for the religious reasons. It is always guarded by the priests. Additionally, it is believed that this spring has the special healing powers.
On the other side of the island there is one more cave which is called Ular Suci. In this place the water snakes which are poisonous can be found. These snakes are considered to be the holy snakes with magical powers. During the night these snakes hunt fish in the sea. During the day they rest in the cave. According to the religious belief one man’s wish can come true, if the snakes are being touched while wishing the particular thing. The priests of this temple are to make sure that the snakes are gathered together after the night’s hunt in the cave. It has to emphasized that these snakes are poisonous. However, they do not attack priests, which is also part of the religious belief related to this temple. In addition, this tradition of carrying the snakes into the cave is couple of centuries old. According to the legends there are no records of snake’s attacks during these ceremonies.
According to one of the legends in the 16th century one of the high priest Danghyang Nirartha traveling from Java supposedly saw the magical lights on this place. Attracted by this unusual phenomenon he accidentally discovered this island next to the shore. Fascinated by this amazing place he spent the night on the island in meditation. His followers also visited this place and contributed in the construction of the new temple of the very cliffs.
This temple is one of the most recognized symbols of Bali. It can be seen on almost every picture or brochure which is related to Bali. Its name is fully deserved. During the periods of the higher sea levels it really looks like the small island in the middle of the sea. The unusual natural phenomena related to this place have been the fascination of tourists and locals for decades. This is one of the very reasons why this temple has found its place in every photo album of the tourists who visited this place.