Tampaksiring / Tirta Empul Overview

The sacred spring of Tirta Empul in Tampaksiring is revered by all Balinese. They say that it is created by the god Indra when he pierced the earth to create a spring of amerta, the elixir of immortality, with which he revived his forces who were poisoned by the evil king, Mayadanawa. Be that as it may, the bathing place was built under the rule of Sri Candrabhaya Singha Warmadewa in the 10th century.

The waters are believed to have magical curative powers. Every year people journey from all over Bali to purify themselves in the clear pools. After leaving a small offering of thanks to the deity of the spring, men and women go to opposite sides to bathe (please remember that it is offensive to photograph the Balinese while they are bathing).

On the full moon of the fourth month (October), the villagers from nearby Manukaya bring a sacred stone, which is housed in the Pura Sakenan in Manukaya, to be cleansed at Tirta Empul. Early this century, the Old Balinese inscriptions on this stone were deciphered for the first time by the Dutch archaeologist Stutterheim. The inscriptions read that one the anniversary of the construction of Tirta Empul, falling on the full moon of Kartika (the fourth month) the stone would be purified at the wells. It was dated October, A.D. 962. The villagers had been a ware of the meaning on the inscriptions!



It is a myth described on a manuscript called Usana Bali says that a Balinese arrogant king named Maya Denawa did not believe in god, and objected the people to worship god. Later the punishment for the king came. The warior of Bhatara Indra arrived to attack Maya Denawa and put him away from the throne. But Maya Denawa used chemical weapons causing all the warriors of Bhatara Indra were poisoned to dead. Seeing this Bhatara Indra than planted his pole to the earth, and sprang water. This water was used to spray the dead warriors, and they alive back. So this water source until now is believed to be the source of life and prosperity. It is especially correct if we associate this water spring with the irrigation system around the area, as it gives hundreds of hectares of rice field from Tampaksiring until Pejeng areas.

Historically Tampak Siring with Tirta Empul temple is a continuation of Pejeng areas of archaeological sites, where along Petanu river that split the area of Gianyar and Bangli preserved a great number of ancient remains although it is a small stroke of chisel on the steep drop of the river up to the intricate rock carving such as Gunung Kawi temple, and Mangening stone shrine which are only less than 2 kms each others.

The inscription mentions the construction of Tirta Empul temple in 960 AD, when the king Chandrabhaya Singha Warmadewa ordered this which is already 1042 years ago. It seems that this place was not interesting for ancient king but the first Indonesian president Soekarno had built his presidential villas just at the west side of the temple. This villa has brought also the name of Tampaksiring become known world wide.
The present temple as a common temple of Bali, the layout is divided into 3 courtyards. At the middle courtyard is constructed and first courtyards were constructed swimming pool with 13 fountains, used as holy water for cremation or dead ceremony. Other has pool with 8 fountains, used as water for symbolic cleaning ( spiritual purification ), when a person is sick it is believed he is infected by immaterial dirt.

Pool with 5 fountains for holy water used people from outside come to pray. At the first courtyard is also a pool for public bathing place. Total number of shrines are 30 nits currently, after later addition by local people who have the responsibility for the temple. The ceremony is performed every 210 days, and fixed date can be read in Balinese calendar.

There is an old stone sculpture being preserved at the last courtyard of the temple in the form of buffalo. The condition of the carving is badly damage, so it can not be observed in detail to fix the type. Buffalo in the pantheon of Hindu is considered as the mount of god Shiwa and this animal is called " Nandi "

  • Ardana, Drs.Gst.Gede: Pengertian Pura di Bali, University of Udayana Press, 1971
  • Kempers, Dr. A.J: Monumental Bali, Introduction to Balinese Archaeology & Guide to the Monuments, Periplus Addition, 1989
  • Hans Hofer: Insight Guides Bali, Apa Publication, 1994
  • Rata, Drs. I.B.: Konsepsi Dasar dan Pengembangan Pura di Bali, Fakultas Sastra, Universitas Udayana, Denpasar, Bali, 1979
  • Wertheim, W.F.: Bali Studies in Life and Thoughts, and Rituals, Les Editions A Manteau S.A., Bruxelles van Hoeve Ltdd - The Hague and Bandung,1960

by. Bali Individual Team