Taman Ayun Temple is a landmark in the village of Mengwi, Badung regency, located 17km northwest of Denpasar. This temple complex boasts magnificent traditional architectural features throughout its courtyards and enclosures as well as expansive garden landscapes comprised of lotus and fish ponds.
The temple was built circa 1634 by the then ruler of the Mengwi kingdom, Tjokerda Sakti Blambangan, with Chinese architectural inspirations, and underwent a significant restoration project in 1937. Towering tiers from the temple shrines make up most of the profile of Taman Ayun and are a gesture of the people of Mengwi’s reverence to their deified noble ancestors, for the temple complex is considered the ‘mother temple’ of Mengwi.
The Taman Ayun Temple was to serve as a main site of worship among the Mengwi people who need not travel too far to the main large temples, the likes of the Besakih ‘mother temple’ in Karangasem, Batukaru Temple in Tabanan, or Batur Temple in Kintamani. It also served as a unifying symbol among the Mengwi royalty and the people.
The Taman Ayun Temple complex comprises four different divisions, one ranking higher than the other. The first is referred to as the ‘Jaba’ or outer division, accessible only through a single entrance and walkway over the ponds. Inside, near the entrance is a small guardian shrine and on the right is a large ‘wantilan’ hall where the communal gatherings take place. A tall fountain with spouts jutting up and out to the cardinal directions can be seen in this area.
Onto the next court, a small temple compound by the name of Pura Luhuring Purnama can be seen. The second and third terraces are slightly higher than the first. To enter, visitors must go through a second gate where a shelter called Bale Pengubengan greets them with ornamental features that depict the nine Hindu gods that guard the nine points of the compass, referred to as Dewata Nawa Sanga. East of this court is a small temple called Pura Dalem Bekak, while in its western corner is an eight metre-high wooden bell tower known to locals as ‘Bale Kulkul’. A climb up will reveal two hanging rectangular wooden bells, plus a high and spectacular view of the whole complex.
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