When curating your itinerary for the Island of the Gods, a visit to the various temples in Bali is a must. Singaporeans who are familiar with this tropical vacation destination would have probably heard of popular ones like Tanah Lot and Saraswati Temple.
A lesser-known one is Pura Mengening, a picturesque water temple located about a 30-minute drive from Ubud. It’s also an 8-minute walk from another famous water temple, Pura Tirta Empul. Here’s where you should go if you want to tick off one of the words in your “Eat Pray Love” mantra.
First things first, attire. With Pura Mengening being a religious site, it’s important to dress as modestly as possible. Both men and women are encouraged to cover their shoulders, and trousers or dresses should fall below the knees.
A basic etiquette to know when entering any temple in Bali is that you have to wear a sarong around your waist.
If you’re entering from the parking lot, know that there’ll be sellers trying to sell you sarongs for Rp 150,000 (~S$13.24), saying that you’ll need them to enter the temple. We did buy them, only to realise that sarongs are available at the entrance of the temple on a donation basis. Well, we may have been caught up in a Bali tourist scam, but at least we got souvenirs to bring back to Singapore.
Another thing to note for women is that at any temple or spiritually significant place in Bali, those who are having their period will not be allowed to enter. So, make sure you check your cycle when planning your itinerary.
Entering the temple compound almost feels like being transported to The Secret Garden. The entire Pura Mengening area is shrouded in greenery, adding to the mystical vibe of the place. Not to mention, it’s less popular amongst tourists, so you may have the whole place to yourself if you’re lucky.
Now for a quick history lesson. Pura Mengening is one of the most important temples on the island. This ancient site was believed to have been built in the 11th century, during the reign of King Anak Wungsu. It is dedicated to the god of water, Dewa Tirta Empul, hence its name.
Today, locals frequent this temple to pray and collect holy water from the temple’s springs, which are said to have healing powers.
Within the temple compound, you’ll find 2 purification pools – 1 for women and the other for men. This is where both locals and tourists come to perform the melukat ceremony. It’s a cleansing ritual that uses the element of water to purify your mind, heart, and spirit. It’s believed that the cleansing ritual can help remove impurities, negative energies, or bad karma.
The ritual is also conducted on a donation basis. You’ll be guided by a priest, who will pass you some offerings to leave in the purification pool. They come in the form of incense and canang sari, which are daily offerings in a handmade basket you often see on the streets or outside businesses.
The incense and canang sari in a basket.
Image credit: @drishtijourneys via Instagram
As we’re writing this, it’s been 5 months since we did the ceremony, and we can confirm that after leaving Bali, we did feel more rejuvenated and less anxious about life in general. Or maybe it’s just the after-effects of a much-needed vacation in paradise.
If you’ve been to Bali one too many times and need an underrated place to visit, we highly recommend making a trip down to Pura Mengening. With the gorgeous gardens, calming sound of flowing water, and no crowds, you’ll leave feeling calmer – no matter what your spiritual beliefs are.
Tickets to enter Pura Mengening cost Rp 30,000 (~S$2.65) per person and can be purchased at the counter before you enter the temple compound.
Whether you’re coming from Ubud or coastal areas like Seminyak, it’s easy to book transportation from a ride-hailing app such as Grab or Gojek.
More Bali reads if you’re planning a visit:
Photography by Doreen Fan & Hui Wen Chan.
Cover image adapted from: Dewi Nurjuwita
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