Located only a kilometre east from Kuta’s main coastal strip, Vihara Dharmayana Kuta is often referred to by the locals as ‘Kongco Leeng Gwan Kuta’, or simply ‘Kongco Kuta’. Slightly inconspicuous due to its location on a corner of Jalan Blambangan, a one-way route usually congested with traffic, the temple’s bright red walls and murals can easily be spotted by taking a leisurely stroll around the area.
Vihara Dharmayana Kuta dates back to 1876, and serves as a great opportunity to get a glimpse into the rich history of Kuta. Despite its age, the temple is very well-maintained thanks to the generations of local devotees, mostly of Chinese descent, who regularly visit the temple for prayers and communal activities, especially around the Lunar New Year. Its main structures feature intricate far eastern-style architecture, creating a vivid and striking sight with no apparent sign of aging.
Escaping the hectic traffic scene and stepping into the temple’s courtyard offers a calming sense of peace and tranquillity, with constant wafts of incense smoke from the altars further adding to the spiritual atmosphere. This Kuta oasis is comprised of a main structure, known as the Baktisala, which features large round lanterns hanging from the rims of its roof supported by giant red pillars wrapped by menacing dragons.
Next to the Baktisala is a smaller structure, the Dharmasala, where family prayers take place in front of smaller relics, various Chinese deity figurines and a wall mural of the Borobuder temple. Opposite the Baktisala and under a banyan tree is a unique place of worship where prayers are made to the ‘Four Faced-Buddha’. This spot is surrounded by a small moat where a collection of turtles swim around or bask on the stones, offering a quite a peculiar sight.
Outside visitors are welcome to Vihara Dharmayana Kuta, but basic rules to follow include proper attire (no shorts or singlets) and no flash photography in the praying rooms (picture taking of certain relics is forbidden). A friendly senior temple keeper usually stands near the outside altar, either folding joss paper for offerings or arranging incense sticks, and they can provide some useful insights into the temple and its history (in Indonesian and broken English).
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