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Taman Ayun water temple is a popular landmark in Mengwi village that features incredible traditional architecture, magnificent landscaping, and is encircled by lotus and fish ponds. ‘Taman Ayun’ means ‘beautiful garden’, and its gorgeous surrounding pools used to be places of leisure for the royal palace maids who would sail across the water on small canoes. The temple consists of three levels that symbolise the three cosmological planes in Balinese Hinduism: the world of humankind, the realm of the gods and the highest level of the divine. The temple was erected in the 17th century, inspired by Chinese architecture, and commissioned by the then ruler of the Mengwi kingdom. In 1937 the sanctuary underwent considerable renovation.

The temple is made up of soaring tiers that reflect the Mengwi people’s respect towards their deified ancestors. The place of worship, known as the ‘mother temple’ of Mengwi, was built so that the people did not need to travel far from home to other temples, and to symbolise the unification of the Mengwi royalty and the people. The temple is made up of different levels, each standing higher than the last. The outer division, ‘Jaba’, is where common gatherings take place. The second level, ‘Pura Luhuring Purnama’, features a gate that leads to a shelter with decorations depicting the nine Hindu gods that act as sentinels over the nine points of the compass. The last level, ‘Utama Mandala’, is the highest, and therefore deemed the most sacred. It houses holy ancestral heirlooms and ceremonial equipment, and tiers of varying shapes and heights tower up into the sky. A pavilion called Bale Loji is situated north of the bell tower where you can find artists working on projects and selling their paintings.

The entrance fee to Taman Ayun water temple is around IDR 3,000 – 4,000. The sanctuary is on the way from southern Bali, so is a convenient stopover for tourists who decide to visit Bedugul.