Since moving to South East Asia, I have visited my fair share of temples. No visit so far has been as humbling and spiritually rewarding as my stop at Pura Tirta Empul in Bali. This temple, famous for its holy springs, is a place where many locals and tourists alike gather to cleanse their minds, bodies, and souls.
Pura Tirta Empul is located a short drive from Ubud. My boyfriend and I had rented a motor scooter during our stay in Ubud, and following google maps easily found the temple. After paying a small fee for parking, we made our way to the entrance.
Either before or after you take your cleaning dip (which I recommend!), spend some time wandering the temple grounds. After passing through the temple gates, we entered the first courtyard, which had a large gather hall to the right. Just past that is the courtyard where the baths with holy water are located. Behind the holy spring pools is another courtyard area where the spring bubbles up from the Earth. This area is also where many people come to pray. There are beautiful structures all around as well as a holy tree with some very impressive roots.
After purchasing a sarong for the pools (and ladening my boyfriend with my bags – you can rent locker for your belongings if you want) I entered the bathing area, realizing I had no idea what to do. Luckily for me, I was approached by a Balinese man who offered to help me through the ritual of cleansing my mind, body, and spirit. I eagerly agreed, wanting to ensure that I was getting all that I could out of my experience. He explained the following process to me (this is from what I remember, I may be forgetting some things):
- Begin with a flower offering (which he gave to me). In the offering are symbolic flowers and a stick of incense.
- Sit on the platform across the the altar (filled with other offerings) and offer a prayer to the gods, the water spirits, and the spirits of your mother and father. Make sure to hold your offering at chest level. Then make a wish and add your offering to the altar. At this point, the Balinese man blessed me by sprinkling me with holy water with a flower, before tucking it behind my ear.
- Now you are ready to enter the pool. He explained to me that there were 13 fountains in the first pool used to cleanse your mind. You must skip the first one and visit numbers 2-10 (which symbolize different sins) completing the same routine at each. The 11th and 12th are for rituals regarding the dead (skip those too) but the last one can be visited.
- The routine for each fountain is as follows: Gather the water in your hands and bring it up to your forehead in prayer three times. Say the mantra of ‘Om’ three times. Bring the water to your mouth three times, but spit it out. The last time, you must swallow it. (This part was a little hard to understand his English but I’m 90% sure that what he said).
- After completing the ritual at each fountain in the first pool; cross to the next pool and do the same with the next three fountains, which cleanse part of your soul.
- Finally visit the last pool and go to each fountain in reverse order. This pool is to cleanse the body of any illness, with the last fountain (which appears to be the first) being the most powerful and also the fountain that the temple is named after (Tirta Empul). Spend some time at this one, as it will complete the cleansing process.
- Exit the pool and end with a prayer thanking the gods, water spirits, and the spirits of your mother and father.
After doing all of that, I felt incredibly blessed to have been able to visit the temple and cleanse myself with the holy water. It also felt good knowing I was completing the ritual the way it was supposed to be done, which helped to make the experience especially spiritual for me.
If you visit the temple, I highly recommend acquiring the help of one of the Balinese men who can walk you through each step. Though they don’t expect it, you should give them a small tip for their advice and help; trust me it is worth it!
Cost and Hours
Parking fee: 2,000 IDR
Entrance ticket (sarong to visit temple included but should not be worn in the pool): 15,000 IDR
Sarong for the pool: 10,000 IDR
Locker for your belongings: 10, 000 IDR
The temple is open daily from 9:00- 17:00 (5:00 PM)
Have you visited Pura Tirta Empul? Share your experience in the comments below!