Gunung Batukau is the second largest mountain on Bali (2.275 m), and only Gunung Agung is of higher religious importance. The slopes are covered with rainforest, apart from West Bali National park this is the only wilderness region of any significance left on the island.

Bali, Tabanan, Kerambitan. Gunung Batukau seen from Kerambitan. Usually the mountain is covered by clouds. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)
Bali, Tabanan, Kerambitan. Gunung Batukau seen from Kerambitan. Usually the mountain is covered by clouds. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

The mountain is located in the Tabanan district, and is an extinct volcano. On the southern slopes of the volcano, at 1.300 meters and surrounded by forest, sits the Pura Luhur Batukau temple.

Bali, Tabanan, Batukau. The Pura Luhur Batukau temple sits on the slopes of Gunung Batukau. The main entrance to is a split gate. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)
Bali, Tabanan, Batukau. The Pura Luhur Batukau temple sits on the slopes of Gunung Batukau. The main entrance to is a split gate. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Pura Luhur Batukau is one of Bali’s so called “sad-kahyangan” temples, a national or state temple. It is not so frequently visited because of the remote location, but the site of the temple below the mighty Batukau mountain makes this a really unique place. It was built to honor the spirits of lakes and mountains, and was the state temple of West Bali while Tabanan was an independent kingdom.

Bali, Tabanan, Batukau. The Pura Luhur Batukau temple sits on the slopes of Gunung Batukau. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)
Bali, Tabanan, Batukau. The Pura Luhur Batukau temple sits on the slopes of Gunung Batukau. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Several “linga”, symbols of fertility, where found here in 1920, indicating that this area has been a sacred place a long way back in history, before the temple was built. The legend says the temple were founded by the Hindu sage Kuturan who proselytized on Bali in the 11th century. Statues found in a bathing place close by is identical with those found in Goa Gajah and is also a proof of this date. Another legend tells about how the temple in 1604 was attacked and destroyed by the king of Buleleng. The kings army was however forced on the run by millions of bees sent by the gods who protects the temple. The temple has in fact been destroyed, and was not rebuilt until 1959.

Bali, Tabanan, Batukau. A small village located high up on the southern slopes of Gunung Batukau. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)
Bali, Tabanan, Batukau. A small village located high up on the southern slopes of Gunung Batukau. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

The distance from Tabanan city along a rough, steep road is about 23 km. 2 km before the temple you will pass the small Wangaya Gede village. If you have any plans of climbing Gunung Batukau you can rent a guide there. Without a guide it is very difficult to find the correct path through the warm, humid forest, which grows almost all the way to the top. The climb starts at the temple where the road ends and takes about 5-6 hours. Many trekkers prefer to stay the night close to the top, then they can also see the sunrise.

Bali, Tabanan, Batukau. A small village located high up on the southern slopes of Gunung Batukau. The mountain was not visible this day. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)
Bali, Tabanan, Batukau. A small village located high up on the southern slopes of Gunung Batukau. The mountain was not visible this day. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Along the road from Tabanan you will also pass the hot springs of Yeh Panes, which can be worth a visit. While you’re in this area you should also visit the lovely Jatiluwih, with some of the most beautiful scenery on Bali.

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Bjørn Grøtting

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Photographer based in Norway. See a collection of my best photos in the portfolio. Licensing of images is done through Photoshelter or alamy.
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