Sacred Sites in Southeast Asia | Pura Mengening

Pura Mengening
Indonesia, Bali, Tampaksiring village, Andesite

Most shrines in Bali are bathing places or sprawling, multi-structure courtyards that are interwoven with the natural environment. Unlike in Java and elsewhere in South and Southeast Asia, tower-shaped, single-unit temples are rare. Discreetly placed off the road to Tirta Empul—currently Bali’s most popular bathing place—Pura Mengening preserves both modes of sacred architecture.

Well restored structural temple with overgrown base
Sculpture in a colorful shrine

Perched high above multi-terraced pools and streaming fountains is a structural temple (prasada) with roots in Indian architectural traditions. It closely resembles Javanese Hindu temples, but on a smaller scale.

Terraced bathing place with carp pool at center
Spouts pouring into a rectangular pool

Pura Mengening’s bathing places and small shrines are layered into the hillside. Since the water flows down naturally, bathing at the highest levels of the complex is prohibited in order to maintain its purity.

Orange flowers in foliage

The constant flow of water keeps the site’s flora richly colored and the blossoms robust.