Arriving at Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, we expected to see a temple. Instead we walked into immaculately manicured gardens. Wide lawns were broken up by colourful flower beds, a stupa and the occasional garishly painted animal statue. Most bizarre were the carefully sculpted vines adorned with animal's faces and ferocious claws. Leafy owls and eagles swooped down over the gardens while bears and lions prowled through the undergrowth.
Worshipping At Ulun Danu Bratan Temple
Nearer the lake, we did actually find the temple, a collection of pavilions and shrines richly decorated with red and gold woodwork. A band marched past us with each of the men sporting a golden sarong. The majority of them played bamboo flutes or banged handheld gongs. A huge bronze gong, carried between two people, brought up the rear.
Shortly after came a long procession, with everyone wearing the colourful sashes and sarongs that are essential for worship in Bali. Some men carried ceremonial umbrellas on long poles. Others had flower arrangements each beautifully arranged on the back of a tiny ornate dragon. Many women also brought floral offerings carried in bowls that rested on their heads.
Why Is Ulun Danu Bratan Temple Important?
Pura Ulun Danu Bratan is a Hindu water temple that sits on the shore of Lake Bratan. This crater lake supplies most of the irrigation water for central Bali. Given the importance of the lake, it is perhaps unsurprising that the locals consider it a sacred place. Local villages regularly arrange ceremonies, like the one we saw, to give offerings to Danu, the goddess of water.
Walking along the lakeside path, we came across the temple's principle shrine. It sits just offshore, eleven-storeys high, with frog statues guarding every corner. Seeing the shrine, it was easy to understand where the name Ulun Danu Bratan comes from. Meaning 'above Lake Bratan' it's a reference to the temple appearing to float on the lake.
The Main Shrine
Ulun Danu Bratan Temple Travel Tips
The entrance fee is 50,000 IDR. While in Western terms this is not expensive, for Bali this is overpriced.
Having paid the entrance fee, you will still have to pay a small extra fee to use the toilets. There is also an extra charge for parking. Have plenty of small change to hand.
Tourists are not required to wear sarongs or sashes when visiting the temple.
Most of the temple's main building are off limits to tourists. However, you can walk freely around the garden and along the waterfront.
How To Get To Ulun Danu Bratan Temple
Ulun Danu Bratan Temple is on the shore of Lake Bratan, near Bedugul. You can take a public bemo to Bedugul.
The temple is pretty, and does feature on a lot of postcards in Bali, but it's not worth travelling too far out of your way to visit. Some people take a day tour with a car and driver and include a stop at this temple. It is also a popular pit stop for anyone on a long journey to the north of the island.