Taman Ayun: Beauty in Serenity

76 comments
Asia, Indonesia
Taman Ayun's Architecture

Taman Ayun’s Distinct Architecture

It appears on many advertisements and campaigns, from tour companies to the national airline. It is comfortably located in central Bali, off the main road connecting Bali’s capital to the western port of Gilimanuk, and easily accessed by anyone who’s visiting Ubud. Yet, Taman Ayun remains a largely tranquil place that draws a moderate number of people to come and see its iconic meru (multi-tiered sanctums).

Taman Ayun, built in 1634, was constructed as the mother temple for the Kingdom of Mengwi, one of many small kingdoms on the island. Historical accounts on the temple, however, are limited and most stories on Taman Ayun are based on the Babad Mengwi (Mengwi Chronicles) and folklores.

By the late 19th century the kingdom fell and its area was divided and controlled by its neighboring, more powerful kingdoms. Mengwi’s most notable heritage, the temple of Taman Ayun itself, was later damaged by the 6.6 earthquake that struck Bali in 1917, the same earthquake that closed off the purported underground tunnel between Besakih and Goa Lawah in eastern part of the island.

Major restoration work was conducted in 1937, and further in 1949 which focused on the temple’s kori agung (mountain-shaped gateway) and candi bentar (split gate). Its multiple meru have been restored to its former elegance with the tallest as high as eleven tiers.

More than 2,000 Hindu temples were destroyed by the 1917 earthquake on the island, but Taman Ayun sees relatively better days today. Despite its central location, tourism has not overrun the temple as it has on Pura Tanah Lot and Ulun Danu, chiefly during peak tourist season. That and Taman Ayun’s location at one of the most prolific regions found on the island have assured UNESCO to grant the coveted World Heritage Status to Bali’s cultural landscape in 2012.

Hindu Ornaments Atop An Alang-Alang Roof

Hindu Ornaments Atop An Alang-Alang Roof

Carvings-Clad Sanctuary

Carvings-Clad Sanctuary

Vishnu Riding Garuda

The Hindu God Vishnu Riding Garuda

Mythical Beasts

Mythical Beasts

Protruding Spines

Protruding Spines

The Two Towers

The Two Towers

Rear to Front: Red Brick, Alang-Alang (Reed), Ijuk (Palm Fibers)

Rear to Front: Red Brick, Alang-Alang (Reed), Ijuk (Palm Fibers)

Meru Spires in Yellow Cloths

Meru Spires in Yellow Cloths

Sun-Kissed Kori Agung

Sun-Kissed Kori Agung

Taking Siesta in the Island of Gods

Taking Siesta on the Island of Gods

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Based in Jakarta, always curious about the world, always fascinated by ancient temples, easily pleased by food.

76 thoughts on “Taman Ayun: Beauty in Serenity”

  1. It’s always good to read a background of the place because it makes the reader appreciates the already beautiful photographs!.

    Bama, I’m glad to have come across your blog after some time.

    Cheers!

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    • That’s exactly how I write my blog posts because long read can be boring without images, while images can mean nothing without story. Or at least that’s how I see it.
      Thanks for reading, Sony, and it’s nice to have you back here on my blog. 🙂

      Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So very glad you posted these. Reminds me of temples we saw in Nepal that are perhaps gone now after the earthquake. (I haven’t returned, so I don’t know.) The carvings and intricate designs are amazing!

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    • If I guess right the temple you mean is Nyatapola, which according to the sources I read it is still standing.
      I really like the carvings of Taman Ayun temple too. So beautiful!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dan pura ini ada di pulau yang cukup dekat dari Makassar. 🙂
      Sudah pernah ke Bali kah, Fauzi? Kalau belum jangan lupa untuk mengeksplor tempat-tempat di Timur, Utara, dan Barat Bali ya, karena kebanyakan wisatawan hanya mengenal Bali dari tempat-tempat wisata di Selatan.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hahah… sebenarnya pernah Bama, tapi cuma transit di Bandaranya doang, saat itu juga cuma dalam pesawat, malam hari, hujan dan saat itu saya lagi tidur… jadi anggap saja belum pernah 😄😄 .. , okelah , kalau dapat kesempatan ke Bali lagi pasti bakal dieksplor.

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      • Nah, apalagi kalau gak turun dari pesawat sama sekali. 🙂 So, kalau nanti ke Bali silakan dieksplor sepuasnya.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. You got some great detailed photos there Bama! Even though Ive visited, I wouldn’t have remembered such detail and intricacy! Taman Ayun is probably the number one temple/water palace in the Ubud region for me. Such tranquillity.

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    • Thank you, Lee. I took the photos on my second visit to Taman Ayun and the weather was perfect, as opposed to the very cloudy day on my first visit a few years ago. I quite like Taman Ayun too despite the relatively compact size of its main courtyard.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Mallee. It was actually a tectonic earthquake, not one caused by a volcanic eruption. Both are common in Indonesia, though, as the country sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The detail is amazing. I totally appreciate how so many cultures put so much time in to the tiny details. Thanks for sharing. Really beautiful!

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    • It’s one of the main reasons why I love exploring different cultures, because each has its distinctive mark on the local architecture, food, and customs. Very fascinating! Thank you for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Marie. Being Bali, there are so many sacred buildings and trees on the island covered in Balinese traditional fabric.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Kelly!
      Thank you. Ornate temples and me… we get along really well, I suppose. 🙂
      We’re in Sri Lanka now although this part of the trip didn’t start quite well as we were both a bit sick. But we’re fine now. Thank you again!

      Liked by 1 person

      • It didn’t start really well, but I’m glad so far it gets better every day. This is my second time visiting the country, and I love it even more. I’m going to visit the ancient city of Anuradhapura tomorrow and hopefully I’ll be able to explore some places I had to skip the last time I came. Thanks Kelly!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Irmaaa! Iya dong pastinya. Tapi belum ada tempat yang ngalahin Istanbul soal kucing. Thanks for reading, Ir! 🙂

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    • My driver told me that experienced carvers don’t always need a sketch to start their work — they simply follow their hands! Balinese carvings are truly some of the most exquisite I’ve ever seen. Thanks Marilyn!

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  5. yep, the cat is the most eye-catching pic of all. and i’ve been to bali several times before, including to the north part. but when i was in the south and even stay in ubud, i overlooked taman ayun ;p
    thx for sharing!

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    • A few years ago Taman Ayun was undergoing renovation, possibly around the time of your previous trip to Bali. But now you know what to see if you happen to be around that part of the island. Thanks for reading.

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  6. That is some amazingly unique architecture! Your photos are excellent; I particularly loved the rooflines (and the spines – fascinating!). Thanks for sharing this interesting place with us.

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    • Some people keep returning to Bali for the beaches, but it’s the beautiful Balinese Hindu temples that keeps me coming back for more — apart from other aspects of the island’s rich cultural scenes. It’s my pleasure to share Taman Ayun with you. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Alison. Despite the mass tourism in some parts of the island, it’s really commendable to see how the locals preserve their unique culture amidst ‘modernity’.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Taman Ayun: Beauty in Serenity | johanpm

    • Ah, you really should visit if you love Balinese architecture. It is not that hard to reach this temple. But don’t ask me for directions, I get lost easily. 🙂

      Like

  8. hello there from Malaysia. gosh, your photos are amazing i feel like jumping on a plane and go see them places myself. and it does feel good to be able to know the story behind it. thanks for sharing. =)

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    • Hello neighbor! 🙂 Thank you very much for your kind comment. I’m glad this post gives you a glimpse of one of Bali’s most fascinating places. But I can’t provide you with parachute, though. 🙂

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      • and hello again Bama. been to Bali last year and it was a blast though it was only for a short 6 days trip with my friends. climbed Mount Batur and had a few visits at the amazing temples. you must be proud of having such amazing and extraordinary places which a few people can only dream of visiting. well, if you ever consider coming to Malaysia, specifically to borneo, do let me know. =)

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      • Oh that’s nice! I’ve been to Bali several times but I have yet to climb Mount Batur. I guess the next time I go I should plan to do just that! 🙂
        I’ve always wanted to visit Malaysian Borneo for its wildlife, indigenous culture, and food. Do you live in Sarawak or Sabah?

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      • oh hi again. i thought u were from Bali. =)
        well, i am from Sabah. born and raised here. so, if you ever wanted to come here, do notify me (if you want a company thats it) =) i can be a good guide.

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      • Haha, no I actually come from Semarang in Central Java. But in 2008 I moved to Jakarta and now I’m traveling for six months. Unfortunately I have to skip Sabah this time.

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  9. there is a cat sleeping on the last photos! I heard about taman ayun long time ago, but never had a chance visiting this place until I left bali 😐 too bad, but next time i visit bali, i’ll take a look this one 🙂

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    • Hahaha, ini ada pecinta mpus juga. 🙂 I try to always take photos of cats wherever I go. Anyway, please do visit Taman Ayun the next time you go to Bali. It’s now part of the island’s first and only UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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  10. Pingback: Taman Ayun: Beauty in Serenity | ikayulianipratiwi

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  12. Amazing photos Bama. As others have said the details you have shown leave me wondering about the carving. So intricate it is difficult to imagine how long such artwork would take to be created.

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  13. These are really some great shots of this piece of history ~ and as you say, I recognize it from ads I’ve seen. The photos you have are artful in the sense that not only are they beautiful, but they show the detail and passion of the people who created these places. Impressive in beauty and I imagine its serenity.

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    • Thank you very much, Randall. I’m glad the photos are able to show Balinese craftsmanship and passion towards art to the world. Despite its popularity Bali still is a wonderful place to visit with so many places to explore. Visiting intricate Hindu temples on the island is something I never get tired of.

      Like

    • Thank you. I am in fact going to visit India next month, but I will focus on the south — Goa, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu. India is such a big country a single visit won’t certainly be enough.

      Like

    • A much peaceful place than Bali’s infamous Kuta and Seminyak for sure. Thank you and glad you enjoyed my photos.

      Like

  14. Incredibly blog and amazing photography! Your experiences are amazing! Wanted to let you know I nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award.

    Like

  15. Li-Mei Situ says:

    This is absolutely amazing. It’s making me really want to visit Bali! I’m traveling to Thailand in January; if only I have time to visit Bali 😦

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    • There’s always next time, and Bali is quite well connected to other cities in Southeast Asia. 🙂

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  16. What incredibly intricate carvings Bama! Vishnu astride Garuda is a particularly striking detail. The nonchalant cat on the ledge, oblivious to all the exotic artwork, is indeed the hands down winner 🙂

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    • Again, I believe you would love Bali — as long as you stay clear of the touristy south. The cat probably thought ‘oh here comes another tourist taking too many photos of the temple, I’d better take a nap’. 🙂
      Thanks, Madhu!

      Liked by 1 person

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