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Uluwatu
The southernmost tip of Bali

South of Jimbaran, the road climbs steeply up several switchbacks onto Bukit Badung Plateau, offering dramatic panoramas back up the beach to the rice lands and the volcanoes on a clear day.

All around the southern and western edges of the plateau, limestone cliffs tower above a pounding surf 70 meters (250 feet) below. This is where Bali's best surfing is found - particularly famous are the waves at Suluban, Labuhan Sait and Bingin.

The Bukit's most famous landmark is Pura Luhur Uluwatu, an exquisite monument situated on a headland at the westernmost tip of the peninsula. The carvings, which decorate the temple, are very well preserved in comparison to many of Bali's temples, due to the extremely hard, dark gray coral stone used in its construction.

Uluwatu was reputedly built by the architect-priest Mpu Kuturan around the 11th century as one of the six major sad kahyangan territorial temples of the island. The reformer priest, Pedanda Wawu Rauh, rebuilt it in its present state in the 16th century. He is said to have attained his moksa (release from earthly desires) here. The temple is home to a small colony of monkeys who have caused some damage to the temple over the years, but still retain their status as sitting tenants.

The temple's structure follows the tripartite pattern of godly, human and demonic courtyards. The outermost entrance is a candi bentar split gate shaped as a set of curved Garuda wings, an unusual feature as they are usually left smooth. Inside the temple, a second gate is capped by a monstrous Kala head guardian figure. At the foot of the gate, right and left, are two Ganesha "elephant god" statues.

The temple underwent renovations in the late 19th century, in 1949, and more recently in the 1980s, and some parts are actually as new as they look. Despite the temple's mixture of old and new it is a breathtakingly beautiful spot, especially when the sun begins to set.


Last revised on January 24, 2010
    
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