Uluwatu Temple and the Kecak Fire Dance, Bali

I can’t even begin to write about how blown away we were with the Uluwatu Temple in Bali.

There were just too many things that left us in awe of this sea temple. For starters, it gloriously stands on top of a steep 70-meter high cliff, overlooking the beautiful Indian ocean. Couple that glistening seascape with a spectacular view of the sunset, and an intense and engrossing dance performance with that same majestic sunset as its backdrop. And the monkeys… don’t forget the cheeky but adorable monkeys roaming around the temple!

DSC03451
Let me quote that Dashboard Confessional song: “You have stolen my heart.”

With that description alone, you can already tell that the Uluwatu Temple is a temple emanating character and uniqueness. Located in the Pecatu Village of Uluwatu, this is undoubtedly one of the most renowned and most visited temples in Bali because of its impressive views and excellent architecture.

DSC03449
An incredible architectural gem!
DSC03448
A view of the Indian Ocean

The name ‘Uluwatu’ is derived from two words: ulu means ‘head’ or ‘top’ while watu means ‘rock’ or ‘stone.’ It is definitely a fitting name for this incredible structure.

IMG_8139

A brief history of the temple is written on the ticket given to visitors for them to fully appreciate what they see. Here is what is written on the ticket, with some minor edits by me:

The Uluwatu Temple is estimated to have been established by Mpu Kuturan during the reign of the king called Sri Haji Marakata who ruled from 944 Caka (Balinese year)/1032 AD – 948 Caka/1036 AD. He was one of the spiritual teachers of the kingdom and a bagavan (or “bhagavan,” a Lord, God, or spiritual leader) in the reign of King Dalem Waturenggong. The one who reached moksha (liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth) in this temple was Danghyang Nirartha. The temple was built as a glorification of his previous predecessor king, and… is a place of worship of a blessed place of Rudra, the storm god and embodiment of wildness and unpredictable danger, as well as the glorification of Danghyang Nirartha. Luhur Uluwatu Temple is one of the Sad Kahyangan (six sanctuaries of the world / six holiest places in Bali).

Rooted in so much spirituality, it is said that the Uluwatu Temple is dedicated to protect the island of Bali from evil spirits.

DSC03472

As with most temples in Bali, for modesty reasons, visitors are required to sport a sarong before entering the temple. Sarongs may be borrowed at the entrance for free.

DSC03457
The honeymooners in sarongs at the Uluwatu Temple

The photo above, as well, as this one below are some of my favorite photos of me and my husband Mike at the Uluwatu Temple. However, though it seems like we had this fantastic spot all to ourselves, the reality is that we were actually sharing it with dozens of other tourists (not in photo). We had to politely ask them to step aside so we could have the perfect photo, and in return, we had to get out of their way when it was their turn to take photos set against this beautiful background.

DSC03458
So incredibly beautiful here!

Just next to that cliff was another area that’s a great spot for a photo.

DSC03459
Another good spot for a photo
DSC03464
I didn’t have to ask other tourists to step aside for this photo!
DSC03461
The other side of this spot. I love this photo of Mike!

DSC03462

DSC03466
I look like I was Photoshopped against this backdrop but I promise, I was there. Haha!
Uluwatu 1
Just be careful not to trip! The cliff is pretty high!
IMG_8148
A view from above of the monkeys walking along the water

Our driver Made led us to a small forest at the front of the temple grounds which was occupied by monkeys — lots and lots of monkeys! These monkeys are believed to guard the temple from evil spirits. Here, Made cautioned us to hold on closely to our belongings because these monkeys are notorious for stealing anything they can get their hands on — sunglasses, hats, watches, cameras, phones… anything! Don’t underestimate these bad boys and girls. Before we even entered the temple, while we were paying for our tickets at the entrance, we already saw one monkey stealing someone’s sunnies! You can bribe them with food if you want your stuff back… but that only makes them smarter than you!

DSC03482

DSC03486

IMG_8169

IMG_8158

IMG_8157

IMG_8156

Meanwhile, while another couple was relishing the romantic view of the ocean, this naughty monkey ruined their lovey-dovey moment by jumping on the woman’s head! She flipped out and screamed her head off! The woman wasn’t hurt; she was just startled big time. The monkey was probably jealous because he didn’t have a love life.

IMG_8170
Cue Celine Dion’s “All By Myself”
IMG_8171
“I put myself out there (literally) and I’m still all alone…”

We were lucky enough to have witnessed the monkey’s “feeding time.” A man started repeatedly chanting “Ayu! Ayu!” and upon hearing his voice, suddenly, the monkeys presented themselves and followed the man for some treats.

IMG_8173
“Ayu! Ayu!”

IMG_8172

DSC03503
The monkeys are coming!
DSC03507
Where did they come from?! There are tons of them!

DSC03500

DSC03512

Here is a short video of the monkeys during feeding time at the Uluwatu Temple. Make sure you keep your eyes glued to your computer or phone screen at 1:42, or else you’ll miss the 5-second monkey quickie!

At the same forest where the monkeys were hanging out, we found six men who appeared to be praying while facing the ocean. They looked so focused and unperturbed despite all the monkeys and tourists around them.

DSC03474

DSC03483

DSC03476
With a view like this, who wouldn’t be focused and unperturbed?

I would recommend going visiting this temple with a good driver-cum-tour guide. Aside from helping you retrieve your stolen items from monkeys (thank God we didn’t experience that!), a big, culturally and historically-rich, and magnificent temple such as the Uluwatu Temple is really best explored with a knowledgeable tour guide who can tell you interesting information about the structure.

DSC03478
Our trusty driver/tour guide Made

Another advantage of having a tour guide? You’ll have someone to take beautiful photos of you! Selfies are okay sometimes, but for such a picturesque place as this, a selfie just won’t cut it.

DSC03498
Everything about this photo is love! Thanks to our tour guide Made for capturing this.

Since I mentioned that this is a picturesque place, I will say no more (for now) and just let the photos do the talking.

DSC03496

DSC03495

DSC03491

DSC03494
DSC03514

DSC03516

DSC03519

DSC03520

Finally, it was time to go up to the actual temple. There is a winding walkway going up to the temple lined by a concrete wall. The path going to the temple is a long one, though there are plenty to see while on the way there.

IMG_8153
See those little things on top of the cliff? Those are people lining up to go to the temple.
DSC03522
Quick stop for photos! (Of course)

DSC03523

DSC03524

IMG_8182

DSC03528
The steps leading down to the Kecak Dance performance stage

DSC03529

DSC03530
‘Pura’ means “temple” and ‘Luhur’ means “something of divine origin”
DSC03532
It’s almost sunset!

An amphitheater at the Uluwatu Temple is the main setting of the well-known Kecak Ramayana & Fire Dance (or “Kecak Dance” for short). The dance is not included in the temple entrance fee so to watch the dance, visitors need to pay a small fee of IDR 100,000 (USD 8/ AUD 11 / PHP 350). A flyer summarizing the five acts of the play is handed to visitors after they pay the entrance fee. Make sure you ask for the English version!

DSC03537
The amphitheater at the Uluwatu Temple

The show starts at 6:00 in the evening just before sunset but it’s best to come early to secure good seats. A spot in the middle section in the photo below is the most ideal area to watch the dance from because the dancers face this way for the most part of the performance. Aside from getting a good view of the dancers, those seated here also get an incredible view of the sunset. When we got there, however, it was already full so we stayed on the sides instead. We still had a good view, as you will see from the photos below, and we were closest to the sunset.

DSC03543
Sit at the section at the center if you can!

In the flyer that was given to us, it said:

“They say that every visitor [in] Bali should see at least one dance and if you plan to see only one, then this should be it. The combination of ancient ritual, dance, drama, and [the] sunset and cliff setting makes [the] Kecak Ramayana & Fire Dance one of the most spectacular dance performances imaginable. Accompanied by a choir of chanting and singing men, [this will] be a memory that will stay with you long after you leave the Island of the Gods.”

I couldn’t agree more! This performance is not to be missed!

DSC03548
The host greets everyone (in different languages!) before the start of the show

Though the Kecak Dance is one of the most famous traditional Balinese dances, it was actually created by a German painter and musician named Walter Spies. The dance was originally a trance ritual accompanied by a male chorus but Spies, while living in Bali, adapted it as a drama based on the popular Hindu epic Ramayana.

DSC03553

About f50+ bare-chested men enter and tirelessly chant “cha-cha-cha-cha” and move their bodies rhythmically throughout the entire hour-long performance. The title “Kecak Dance” (pronounced as “ket-chak” or “ket-jack”) was an onomatopoeic title derived from the sounds uttered by these men.

DSC03554

Here is a little glimpse of the Kecak Fire Dance. This is at the beginning of the dance, so things aren’t too crazy and heightened yet during this time.

There are no musical instruments for this show. The only “musical instruments” you will find here are the natural beats coming from the indefatigable voices of the chanting men. I don’t know how they can do that for an hour (or more) without getting any breaks or intermissions while being exposed to heat… and they do it every single night! I was getting tired just by watching them! Kudos to these men!

DSC03556

IMG_8242

The story of the Kecak dance is a long and tangled one, brought to life by a prince (Rama) whose wife is stolen from her, the prince’s kidnapped wife (Sita), the prince’s brother (Laksamana), an evil king (Rhawana), a red monkey king (Sugriwa), and a mischievous white monkey (Hanoman). As these characters play their respective roles, they stand in the center of the cantillating ensemble.

IMG_8208

More than just the movements and the music, even the characters’ costumes and makeup are very elaborately done. How they are able to still move gracefully and precisely underneath all that material and maquillage is quite amazing!

IMG_8209

IMG_8212

IMG_8213

IMG_8215

IMG_8218

IMG_8219

IMG_8220

IMG_8221

IMG_8226

IMG_8231

IMG_8246

Uluwatu 2

While being completely immersed in the performance, I lost track of time until I noticed the skies changing its color. The beautiful transitioning of the clouds from blue to a mix of cotton candy colors made the entire performance and the gorgeous setting even more arresting.

IMG_8249
Cotton candy clouds

Adding up to the change of light, the drama intensifies even more in the scenes after the appearance of the white monkey. To lighten the mood a little, in the middle of the seriousness of the scenes, the white monkey provides comic relief by doing the unexpected: climbing up the steps, joining the audience for selfies and quick pictures, and pretending to be a real monkey by doing what Balinese monkeys do best: stealing anything they get their hands on, whether that’s someone’s sunnies or a bottle of water.

IMG_8259
The white monkey joins the audience for a selfie…
IMG_8262
…then “steals” someone’s sunnies! (He gave it back)

After all that monkeying around, the white monkey is caught by giants who attempt to burn him to death. With a ring of glowing red-orange flames blazing at the center of the stage, with embers flying around, while the sun dramatically sets in the horizon, the heat — from both the fire and the climax of the story — rises even further.

IMG_8269

IMG_8277

IMG_8278

IMG_8282

IMG_8285

IMG_8286

IMG_8289

IMG_8290

IMG_8293

IMG_8298

DSC03559
Such a pretty sunset!

DSC03562

At the end of the Kecak Dance, visitors are given the chance to take photos with the cast members. Of course, you’d have to wrestle your way into throngs of people for a photo, but if you could get even just one photo with any of the characters, that’s good enough. Mike and I really wanted a photo with the white monkey but because he was the most popular and most well-loved character, there was an awfully long line of people wanting a monkey selfie, so we looked for other characters to have a photo with.

DSC03567
Meet my new friends!
DSC03568
Guys gone wild! Mike poses with the Red Monkey.
DSC03569
I didn’t know that the Kecak Dance crew is recruiting! Mike and another dude with the “cha-cha-cha boys”
DSC03563
Good night, Uluwatu. You were unreal!

No question, Uluwatu Temple was one of our favorite temples in Bali! It was completely out of this world and I dream of coming back here!

Uluwatu Temple
Address: Jalan Raya, Uluwatu, Pecatu Village, Badung Regency, Indonesia
Opening Hours: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Admission: IDR 30,000 (Adults) / IDR 15,000 (Children)
Entrance Fee for Kecak Dance: IDR 100,000
Kecak Dance Show Time: 6:00 PM nightly
How to Get There: Rent a private car with driver / guide. I recommend Galih Bali Tour.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

For all stories related to our Bali honeymoon trip, visit the link below:
#PuffAndFluffBalimoon

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

If you liked this post, feel free to like and share!

11 Comment

  1. Oh my goodness what a stunning place! I definitely have to add it to my list of travel destinations! Thanks for sharing!
    Kyla
    Wanderlustkyla.com

  2. Sounds like I would love this place! Looks amazing and I love thone cheeky little monkeys ☺ Ree Love30

  3. OMG, I love this post! Your photos are absolutely stunning and this place too! :O
    http://www.inspo-book.blogspot.com

  4. Oh, wow! It truly looks like an amazing place! I enjoyed the pictures (monkeys are my favourite), and the performance was great too, I think (I’m a folklore dancer myself).

  5. All I can say is WOW. That looks absolutely WOW.

    ~ Jasmin N
    Little Things With Jassy
    Bloglovin’

  6. Isn’t it incredible? I was there last year and the Uluwatu Temple and Kecak dance were 2 of my favorite parts of the trip!

    xo Bree
    http://bree-west.com

  7. Wow! I’ve heard kecak music before, but didn’t realize there’s a dance that goes along with it. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  8. I love this story! So wonderful
    Maikelsworld.com recently posted…Spreegold – Friedrichshain BerlinMy Profile

  9. I’ve been here before so I can definitely relate to you with everything! I love everything here!

  10. Oh my, I’m blown away by all the beauty. What a great time for you guys!

  11. WOW! It’s my first time to see this place and this is gorgeous. I used to see all the similar places when I read Bali travel blog posts. The temple is so serene with it’s location. But the monkeys are scary good thing you didn’t lose a thing with them.

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge