Gunung Kawi Sebatu Temple in Bali
Gunung Kawi Sebatu Temple is located within the highland village of Sebatu in Tegallalang, Gianyar, approximately 12km northeast from the main Ubud hub. Locally referred to as Pura Tirta Dawa Gunung Kawi Sebatu, is a special find for visitors to Central Bali. It is one of the least visited temple complexes on the island Bali, yet is one of the most beautiful and tranquil. It features verdant gardens around ponds filled with carp and blooming lotuses, and ancient shrines surrounded by crystal clear pools fed by natural springs.
Approaching the temple from the main Jalan Raya Tegallalang road, a small and winding descent approaches the temple, where you can easily have a bird’s eye view of the whole complex and its water gardens. The temple is a refreshing stopover, profuse with water features, and one of the main highlights is the tranquil setting of one of its singular shrines known as the Taman Suci, which is next to a large rectangular pond with a dense green hillside as a backdrop – perfect for photographers to grab that picture-postcard shot.
But before reaching the northwest corner where Taman Suci and the main Gunung Kawi Sebatu Temple grounds are located, you will have to don the customary sash around your waist which you can borrow at the ticket booth. A few steps along the cobble path you will instantly enjoy a full water garden, a large pool where golden carp are kept. A figure of the goddess Sarasvati is its centrepiece, together with a ‘floating’ Wantilan hall from which you can feed the fish.
Beside the pool there are two walled bathing sections that the locals and pilgrims to Gunung Kawi Sebatu Temple actually use for bathing. A sign clearly reads in English and Indonesian that photography in these quarters is forbidden – obviously!
Towards the north and after a green lawn are the ‘candi bentar’ temple gates that lead to the elevated main temple grounds. You will be able to see a few animals kept within the complex, such as roaming free packs of tame fowl, juvenile deer and rare chicken breeds, which all add life to the otherwise inanimate statues and towering temple structures.
Gunung Kawi Sebatu celebrates its piodalan temple anniversary every first full moon of the Balinese calendar, also referred to by the locals as ‘Purnama Sasih Kasa’. It offers a greater opportunity to witness the colourful festivities that take place at the temple, as well as the lively flow of Balinese Hindu pilgrims from all over the island.
Gunung Kawi Sebatu Temple is often an included highlight on tour itineraries to the island’s culturally rich central region, but is not to be confused with another similarly named temple (and slightly more popular), known simply as ‘Gunung Kawi’, located in the neighbouring area of Tampaksiring, two kilometres south of the Tirta Empul Temple complex, and only 15 minutes’ drive up from the Tegallalang rice terraces scenic outlook.