The Pura Tirta Empul is one of Bali’s holiest and most important temple complexes and is one of the nine state temples. Located in the center of the island, at the source of the river Pakrisan, it is mainly known for its holy spring water, which is found there. Hindu believers regularly come here to cleanse themselves and free themselves from diseases and other problems. Each of the individual fountains, which pour their water into the spring basin, should be responsible for a very specific task, but the exact assignment is no longer known today.
So if you want to be safe, a small cleaning ritual is taking place under each of them. The temple is popular among believers and tourists alike, but it has remained a very pleasant place, without too much humming, as the terrain is great. The source is presumably fed directly from one of the great volcanoes and does not dry even in times of greatest drought. Tirta Empul is, by the way, the Balinese word for “bubbling spring”. The Pura Tirta Empul was built in 926 during the Warmadewa dynasty (10th to 14th century) on the site of a great spring. Today’s walls are more recent, but they are constantly being rebuilt and restored.
Next to the temple complex is a large and modern villa. This was built for President Sukarno, who visited the temple in 1954. Today, the guests are accommodated here, including Angela Merkel. The origin of the sanctuary is based on a legend. This legend tells of a powerful king named Mayadenawa, who ruled over a thousand years ago Indonesia, and thus also Bali. He had the ability to transform himself into other people, animals and also objects. However, he abused his strength and became a cruel black magician. The priest Sang Kulputih finally called the god Indra on the earth to kill the cruel Mayadenawa. This had however a lot of spies which told him early enough of the plan and so he could quickly build an effective defense.
Nevertheless, Indra’s troops were able to defeat their opponents, many of whom were killed or fled. Mayadenawa remained almost without protection, but was saved by the dusk. As Indra’s troops slept, Mayadenawa crept into her camp and poisoned her water. He did so in a special way. As he ran on the sides of his feet, he did not leave any recognizable traces. This gave its name to the nearby city of Tampaksiring, for tampak siring is the Balinese word for “without imprints” or “without traces”. When Indra’s soldiers drank the water the next morning, they became ill and could not fight. Indra, however, quickly discovered the problem, and created the great source at which the temple was later erected by pushing its flag-flag into the ground. The spring water had healing powers and restored his soldiers quickly.
Mayadenawa tried to flee and changed into new shapes. When he had just assumed the shape of a stone, an arrow caught him and a stream of blood spilled out of him. This resulted in the river Petanu, which quickly grew the neighboring rice fields. But if the rice were harvested, the blood spilled out of it, and it became inedible. The fight between Mayadenawa and Indra is a metaphor for the everlasting battle of good versus evil, in which neither side can win 100%. But the Pura Tirta Empul is not only popular with Hinduists, the beautiful area also attracts many travelers and is a must for every tour through Bali’s center. Nevertheless, the many people spread quite well on the site, so it does not overflow.
Very close to the Pura Tirta Empul are the small town of Tampaksiring, the royal tombs of Gunung Kawi or Bangli with the Pura Kehen. Otherwise the area is beautiful, with the Bali typical rice fields, dense jungle and small places.
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