Temples in Indonesia
From the shores of Indonesia’s low lying coastal regions, to its spongy hilltops and rice paddy clad fields, temples in Indonesia abound. The country is a mosaic of temples, shrines and stupas, a nod to the Hindu, Buddhist, Christian and Muslim influences seamlessly interwoven into the fabric of Indonesia. Visiting the country’s temples during regional festivals or national celebrations are a wonderful way to witness these incredible sites in all their glittering glory. From the vibrant Bali Arts Festival to the holiest festival in Buddhism, Waisak; the Indonesian calendar is jam packed with unforgettable occasions to add to your itinerary.
Indonesia is a cultural phenomenon, with eight UNESCO World Heritage sites to its name. The most famous of which is undoubtedly Java’s Boroburdur, a colossal Buddhist relic and a must see on any Java itinerary. Alongside Angkor Wat and the temples of Bagan, Boroburdur sits proudly amongst the most famed temples of Asia. Peeking out from fields of rice paddies, this enigmatic temple is overlooked by Java’s craggy volcanic peaks making for a truly ethereal setting, especially at sunrise. Joining in with Boroburdur’s Buddhist monks at prayer time is a soul stirring experience in Indonesia. Nearby Pramabanan is another magnificent wonder which harks back to the 9th century. Dedicated to the three Hindu divinities, Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma, Java’s largest Hindu temple is a true sight to behold and its religious prominence confirms it as an unmissable port of call on a cultural journey through Indonesia.
In every Balinese village, you will find several temples which serve the whole community, one for its founders, another that protects and blesses the villagers and one which honours the dead. On top of this, each home houses its very own temple, so it is no surprise that Bali is known as the Island of Thousands of Temples. Amongst Bali’s most impressive cultural sites, Tanah Lot is perhaps the most extraordinary. There, a Hindu shrine perches atop a rocky outcrop which is often cut off from the mainland by high tide. Visiting the temple at the end of the Gaungan vacation, Kuningan, when thousands of pilgrims arrive to celebrate and make offerings to their ancestors is a true spectacle. Also on Bali, the temple at Uluwatu is a postcard perfect site, jutting out into the ocean on a craggy cliff face and offering incredible views out to sea.
Lombok, home to a host of temples including Pura Lingsar, is perhaps most famed as home to the volcano of Mount Rinjani. Summiting the active volcano is an important pilgrimage route for Hindus and Sasaks and witnessing their journey is an incredible experience for young and old.
Temples and cultural sites are an inherent part of Indonesian culture, so integrating a visit to one or more is a fantastic way to get under the skin of these charming islands.