Away from Bali’s breathtaking coastline and Bali Surf Resorts lies Pura Dalem Agung Padangtegal tucked away in the serene quiet of the island’s famous Sacred Monkey Forest. Dedicated to Durga, the Goddess of Death, Pura Dalem Agung Padangtegal or Great Temple of Death is often described as a frightening place to visit.
A short drive from Anantara Bali Uluwatu Resort & Spa, Ubud is Bali’s spiritual town and birthplace of the Balinese religion which is a curious blend of ancient Animism and Ancestor Worship traditions alongside Buddhist and Hindu philosophy. With temples dedicated to birth and death scattered across Bali, the 14th century Pura Dalem Agung Padangtegal is an ideal example of a Pura Dalem or Temple of the Dead.
Believed to have been a part a temple complex in the Sacred Monkey Forest, Pura Dalem Agung Padangtegal is famous for its imposing stone structures and intricate carvings of deities and mythical creatures. True to Balinese tradition, the temple exists in harmony with nature surrounded by trees including the Majegan and Berigin trees, where the bark of the former is used to build shrines and the latter’s leaves used in cremation ceremonies. Stone statues of monkeys, ox and elephants can be found alongside frightening statues of fang-bearing vampire children and Durga, the Godess of Death, who bears her fangs and curls her long tongue around her victims to frighten lingering evil spirits from the temple compound and the nearby temple cemetery. The Balinese tradition believes that spirits inhabit trees and statues and often flowers are laid in worship at Durga’s feet.
While at Pura Dalem Agung Padangtegal, visit the Holy Bathing Temple and admire the mythical dragon carvings of the ancient Dragon Bridge and don’t be intimidated by the playful Balinese Crab-eating Macaque monkeys that live in the forest although be warned, they are known to snatch unguarded bags! The Animistic tradition of Balinese faith believe that spirits possess animals and the lingering of monkeys, numbering over 600 in the 27 acre forest sanctuary, just adds another dimension to Pura Dalem Agung Padangtegal’s spirituality.
Pushpitha Wijesinghe is an experienced independent freelance writer. He specializes in providing a wide variety of content and articles related to the travel hospitality industry.