Photo: Join the queue.

Tirta Empul

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If you’re Balinese and it’s your birthday, chances are you’ll be heading to Tirta Empul Holy Springs for a ritual purification. The baths here are Bali’s oldest and most sacred, and pilgrims flock from all over Bali for the magical curative and spiritually cleansing waters.





The Springs are the source of the Pakrisan River, which flows south passing the neighbouring antiquity of Gunung Kawi, and the surrounding temple complex here was built in the Saka (Balinese calendar) year 882 (around 960 AD) during the Warmadewa Dynasty.

Tourists welcome. Photo taken in or around Tirta Empul, Ubud, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Tourists welcome. Photo: Sally Arnold

Legend tells that the springs were created by the God Indra who thrust his staff into the ground to tap amerta (the elixir of life) to reincarnate his troops poisoned by the demon King Mayadanawa. The battles between Indra and Mayadanawa are the origins of many place names in Bali, Tampaksiring (the village in which both Tirta Empul and Gunung Kawi are located) translates to “oblique impression” and illustrates an episode when fleeing Mayadanawa left his footprints upon the hill.

The final battle between the two (good wins), is commemorated by the Balinese festivals of Galungan and Kuningan, and during this time the springs are particularly packed with the faithful. Along with Gunung Kawi and Taman Ayun Temple at Mengwi, Tirta Empul is integral in Bali’s subak irrigation system, granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 2012.

Atmospheric, even in the rain. Photo taken in or around Tirta Empul, Ubud, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Atmospheric, even in the rain. Photo: Sally Arnold

The main attraction here is the spring-fed bathing pools whose spouts are piled high with small fragrant offerings, each waterspout having its own ritual function written in Balinese. Snaking queues of sarong-clad worshipers first pray on a raised platform in front of a small altar, then climb into the crystal clear waist-deep water. Starting with the left waterspout they dip their heads and pray, moving along to the next spout continuing the process until they have been cleansed under each in the two adjoining pools. Many collect the holy water to ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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Tirta Empul
15 kilometres north of Ubud
Daily 07-00-18:00
Admission: 15,000 rupiah or 7,500 rupiah for kids (includes sarong and sash). Parking is 5,000 rupiah for cars, and 2,000 rupiah for motorbikes.

Location map for Tirta Empul

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