Taman Ayun Temple, also known as Mengwi Royal Temple, is a Hindu temple in Mengwi, a village in Bali, Indonesia. The temple is about 18 kilometers northwest of the popular tourist destination of Denpasar, the capital city of Bali.
Taman Ayun Temple is a significant cultural and historical landmark in Bali. It was built in the 17th century during the reign of the Mengwi Kingdom, one of the dominant kingdoms in Bali then. The temple served as the royal family temple of the Mengwi Kingdom. And also, it is renowned for its exquisite architecture and serene surroundings.
“Taman Ayun” translates to “Beautiful Garden” in Indonesian, perfectly describing the temple’s setting. The complex is surrounded by a wide moat, with lush gardens and manicured lawns creating a peaceful atmosphere. The temple has multi-tiered meru (pagoda) towers and intricately carved stone gates and walls.
History of Taman Ayun Temple
Based on the Lontar Chronicle of Mengwi, the temple, now called Taman Ayun Temple, was formerly when it had just been purified in 1634 AD. It was called Taman Ahyun Temple. Ahyun said from the root word “Hyun,” which means desire, so Ahyun implies desire. Taman Ayun Temple is established in a garden (a pond with a beautiful flower garden) that fulfills wishes. Ahyun’s words turned into Ayun’s words.
The history of this temple is found in Lontar (manuscript of such palm leaves) Dwijendra Tattwa. It describes that Danghyang Nirartha, during his travels in Bali, once did yoga in an area near a spring surrounded by blooming flower trees and to the east of which a river flowed. The place was then named “Taman Sari or Taman Wulakan Temple,” while the surrounding area was called “Mangapuri.” This Mangapuri word is thought to have changed to “Mangui” and is now “Mengwi.” Manga or Mango probably comes from the word “Mangu,” which means “contemplation” or “meditation.” Based on this, Mangupuri means “a good place to practice yoga samadhi.”
The Historical Background of the Temple
The historical background of Taman Ayun Temple can be known based on archaeological data found at Taman Ayun Temple and data in the Lontar Chronicle of Mengwi.
- Archaeological data. On the left front entrance of the door leading to the first courtyard (jaba side) of Taman Ayun temple. Two buildings are called “Batu Aya” and “Bedugul Krama Carik.” And also, there are relics from the megalithic tradition in the form of stone petals “menhirs” arranged higher and higher. It was tapering to form a pyramidal terrace. Based on these remains, it can be seen that the Taman Ayun Temple location has been used as a place for ritual activities related to “fertility” ceremonies in agriculture since the development of the megalithic tradition around 500 BC.
- Data in the Chronicle of Mengwi. It is said that I Gusti Agung Putu pioneered his power. It starts with the gift of a piece of forest land and the chosen people of 200 people from a chief of the Marga village area, namely I Gusti Bebalang. Forest land was encroached on. And I Gusti Agung Putu built a palace named “Puri Bala Ayu.” Now it becomes “Belayu.”
Fuction of Taman Ayun Temple
The function of the Taman Ayun Temple can be identified based on the contents of the Mengwi chronicle. And also, building structures and their respective roles, especially those in the third area (main temple area).
Worship of Gods. The main deity, Istadewata, who is worshiped at Taman Ayun Temple, is a manifestation of Lord Vishnu. The locals believe that God Visnu resides at the top of Mount Mangu. And also, the Mengwi Chronicle is called “Hyanging Parwata Gunung Mangu” or Bhatara Hyang Danawa. Meanwhile, in the Usana Balinese manuscript namely one of the Deities Catur Lokapala which kept Bali stable, especially the Mengwi kingdom in its time. As a medium of worship is “Meru Pucak Pangelengan,” a temple building with nine layers on the east row. And also, to the left of Meru overlapping 11 intersections from Bhatara Gunung Agung.
In the temple building row located in the north, a Prasada is building approximately 4 meters high. It is referred to as the “Temple of Gading Cili” as a place of the “Goddess of Gading Cili.” It seems that what is meant by “Goddess of Gading Cili” is another name for “Goddess of Chile” or Dewi Sri or Dewi Laksmi, the sacred (wife) of Lord Vishnu.
Dewi Sri is seen as the ruler of agriculture, especially as the “Goddess of Rice” or “Dewi Nini.” Meanwhile, Goddess Lakshmi is seen as the Goddess of the Earth (Bhudewi), the ruler of soil fertility and agricultural crops. Lord Vishnu and his divine Goddess Sri-Laksmi are the “Istadewata” of Taman Ayun Temple in their capacity or status as a legacy from the “Temple of the Kingdom of Mengwi.”
Places to Visit in Bali
Taman Ayun Temple is a famous tourist destination in Bali. The temple is open to visitors, and tourists can explore its beautiful grounds and admire the traditional Balinese architecture. The serene surroundings make Taman Ayun Temple a popular tourist attraction and a great place to learn about Bali’s rich cultural heritage.
The best time to visit Taman Ayun Temple in Bali, Indonesia, is during the dry season, typically from April to September. During this time, you can expect lower chances of rainfall and generally pleasant weather, making it more comfortable for exploring the temple and its surroundings.
Visiting in the morning or late afternoon is recommended to avoid the day’s peak heat. The temple opens at 9:00 AM, so arriving early allows you to explore the complex when it’s less crowded, providing a more peaceful and immersive experience. Additionally, the lighting during these times can be particularly beautiful, enhancing the overall atmosphere of the temple.