Pura Pulaki, Pura Pabean and Pura Melanting are a trio of temples wedged between the craggy mountains and black sands of the north coast beaches near Pemuteran. Important as they are to Hindu Balinese, each with a distinct spiritual function, it’s the dramatic natural settings that pique the interest of the outsider.
About 1.5 kilometres east of Pemuteran, Pura Pulaki sits at the foothills, facing the sea. Particularly important in the Balinese belief system, you will see people from around the island praying here throughout the day and passing vehicles will toot their horn. It's set up for “drive-through prayers”, with a small roadside shrine and busy priests flicking holy water as devotees stop for a quick blessing.
According to local folklore, when the temple was founded by the 16th-century priest Nirartha, he was led by a troupe of macaque monkeys. Out of respect for him, they settled in the temple as guardians. Today the temple is overrun with the cheeky primates, so much so that most of the shrines sit within monkey-proof cages, and temple guards (of the human variety) carry slingshots. If you are parked near the temple, wind up windows, as they have been known to jump inside cars in search of food.
To visit the temple you will need a sarong and sash, and tourists are required to pay 10,000 rupiah entry fee at the small roadside tourist information booth. The black volcanic stone temple has some nice views to sea, but most of the decorations are of cement, painted in modern gaudy colours, and along with the monkey-proof metal cages everywhere it’s not especially visually appealing. Outside the temple along the sea wall, a row of food stalls sell bakso (meatball soup) and ice desserts, a scenic stop for a quick delicious snack, popular with truck drivers on their way to the ferry terminal at Gilimanuk.
Two hundred metres east of Pura Pulaki, Pura Pabean overlooks the picturesque coast towards Pemuteran and it's worth climbing the few steps to the entrance of the temple for the view alone. At Pura Pabean local fishermen pray for a safe journey and the temple’s history is entwined with the Chinese traders who stopped at the port here. The temple shrines are an unusual blend of Balinese and Chinese styles. Again, beware of the pesky monkeys, and leave your hats and glasses behind. A sarong and sash is required, and entry fee is 10,000 rupiah.
Another 400 metres east of Pura Pabean, a signposted road leads about two kilometres towards Pura Melanting. This temple is singularly impressive, and the best of the three for tourists. As with many temples in Bali, the site may be ancient, but many of the shrines and buildings are new, here designed by the acclaimed Balinese architect, Ida Bagus Tugur who also designed the Bali Arts Centre in Denpasar.
A steep stairway leading through the forested foothills is flanked at the entrance by naga (dragon) statues, with a carved lotus at every curve of the serpent’s body shaded by colourful temple umbrellas and covered in small offerings. Richly embellished with carved umbrellas and wheel-like symbols, the courtyards and shrines are distinct and rather stupendous. The inner compound houses a small but serene pond and a shrine painted in a rainbow of colours. Pura Melanting’s religious function serves as the main market temple in Bali; traders and businesspeople come here to pray for good fortune (and maximum profit). The required sarong and sash can be hired at the entrance. Entry fee is 10,000 rupiah. The large carpark at the temple is surrounded by warungs selling food and interesting temple paraphernalia.
By Sally Arnold
Last updated on 14th September, 2016.