Luhur Uluwatu Temple – Kuta Selatan, Indonesia - Atlas Obscura

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Luhur Uluwatu Temple

This Balinese sea temple is thought to be guarded by the hundreds of monkeys that live around it. 


One of the sacred sea temples that are said to create a visually unbroken chain along the Bali coast, the Luhur Uluwatu Temple is a gorgeous, historic pagoda site that is said to be protected by the mischievous monkeys that live in the surrounding forest. 

A temple structure of some kind is said to have existed on the cliff where Luhur Uluwatu now resides, long before the current structure was developed. The structures, including a lovely cliffside pagoda and crumbling stone arches, are thought to have been built around the 11th century. The structure is built right up to the edge of a sea cliff that drops 230 feet down into the ocean. Walls along the cliffside prevent visitors stunned by the incredible view of the sunset from plummeting off the edge.

Like Tanah Lot (which can be seen from the top of the cliff), another Balinese sea temple that is said to protect Bali from malevolent sea spirits, Luhur Uluwatu has protective animals. As the isolated Tanah Lot is overrun with sea snakes, Luhur Uluwatu is rotten with monkeys. Taking roost in the temple itself and the surrounding vegetation, the monkeys of Uluwatu are known to nab any loose possessions that visitors might have on display, often only trading them back for pieces of fruit. They have been known to rip shiny earrings out of visitors’ ears and run away with them, or steal food right out of visitors’ hands. These beasts are said to be the spiritual protectors of the temple, although their main weapon seems to be annoyance.

Spirit monkeys or no, the Luhur Uluwatu Temple is a majestic link in a chain of beautiful sea temples. Just be sure to hold on to your belongings. 

Know Before You Go

A taxi from Kuta to Uluwatu will take 30-40 minutes and cost about 150,000Rp one way. From Nusa Dua, it is a 45 minute drive. It is advisable to hire a car to visit this temple, since you may also visit other places in Bali along with it.

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