Pura Silayukti is a Hindu temple located on the south east coast of the village Padangbai, Bali. The temple was revealed as a hidden gem and a rather unintentional discovery for myself and the friends I was traveling with. Traveling with people in their own country is always advantageous as I would have no doubt not discovered this location on my own.

The group of us had been traveling for a few hours to hit up a beach. Our seats were littered with bags of snacks, water bottles, and various scarves we’d try to push into the crevices of windows to keep out the Indonesian sun in the hour of driving away from the main city. When we arrived at the bay near Padangbai, one of us rolled down the window to speak with someone on  the street. I didn’t understand the conversation with my limited Indonesian. As an outsider the language always sounds very serious and harsh with intonations that sound reminiscent of my mother telling me I need to do the dishes before I leave the house. My husband and the others who grew up in East Java have a particularly serious and brazen Indonesian accent. Consonants cut like a knife and the volume level is much higher than other Indonesians accents from the island of Java. My husband says other Indonesians consider his regional language use to be “rude”. Indeed I can hear the difference between his speech and our friend who grew up in the Yogyakarta province who speaks in soft tones and a legato rhythm. Some would say the East Java accent is due to the sea-faring nature of their ancestors and that living on the shore makes their speech this way. Although wether this is true or just a way to justify their speech, well… that is puzzling.

The group! Long time friends of my husband, and now my friends by proxy

I sit back and attempt to pick up a word here or there as our friend negotiates with a guide. The guide pulls out a map of snorkeling spots and tries to get us onto his boat. That much was clear from his pointing, and the densely packed port outside our window. Our friend turns around and purely for my benefit speaks in English to the group which both humbles me and makes me feel grateful. The price of a snorkeling tour is more than we had in mind but he apparently offered to get us to a temple. “He said if we sign up right now he will give us a discounted rate to go. Which makes me think it is really nearby and we could get there on our own.” A few minutes later, a few tight squeezes through a hairpin road, and we’re on top of a nearby cliff. The temple was barely a 3 minute drive away.

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I saunter over to a small thatched porch with a few of my friends and we sit to admire a view and chat with a local. I didn’t really know what to do since I couldn’t speak Indonesian and my skin makes me stand out like a tree in the middle of a field. I’m an obvious curiosity, especially since it’s clear my friends are not tour guides. It is at least a polite stare and on the range of looks I’ve been given this is at least a mild curiosity with a smile. In the streets of Jakarta you can feel the question marks pop up in the air as my husband and I stroll down the road together.

I sit and watch this breathtaking view of the ocean looking out to another outcrop. Then I blink and look down. The ground is riddled with litter. Soda cans, cigarettes, toys, tupper ware, and the notorious light red plastic bags most take out food is packaged in. What really struck me was just how much of the liter was plastic based. I felt a grimace forming on my face that I did my best to strangle it down into a look of awe while focusing on the view of the ocean. But I was so confused, why hadn’t anybody tried to clean this up? It was obvious that the local talking to us spent an enormous amount of their time if not living on the spot. There was a songbird in the cage over my head, tons of cooking ware hanging from the wall, and blankets on the porch. A narrow pvc pipe lay across the ground and rested at an odd angle over a metal bowl for collection.

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So. Much. Trash.

It was in these moments that I realize how much I take for granted in America. Being in Indonesia has given me an obtuse love for all things bureaucratic and systematic. Despite hours listening to Sum 41, Brand New, and New Found Glory raging against the atrocities of the mundane and authority, I find that… well… maybe authority isn’t so bad. Sometimes when people ask me what I will be surprising when I arrive back in the United States. I always answer “weekly trash collection” A topic we’ve already covered here on Puzzled Pilgrim. Perhaps that is just me growing up? I had a moment of deep horror while in Syracuse driving in my room mate’s car. I thrashed my head and sang along with the lyrics from the speaker:

I don’t want to waste my time
Become another causality of society

I realized with irony that I was on my way to Lowe’s to get something to fix my house, grocery shopping, and then a trip to the bank. My heart almost stopped and I felt like I had failed my generation, and most of all the members of Sum 41.

After a few moments of pleasant exchanges we sat up and walked towards the temple just a few meters away across the parking lot. I am happy to say this is an active temple and not merely one for show. I even found a blog post about someone visiting with their family and google translate isn’t a bad option if you can’t read Bahasa Indonesia. The temple itself consists of four major buildings, three which are on top of the hill and an additional altar jutting off the side of a cliff.

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The entrance to the main temple grounds of Pura Silayukti

 

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Underneath all the stone lays beautiful bright decorations on this holy site

There are some suggestions that the temple dates as far back as the 11th Century A.D. with ties to Ida Batara Mpu Kuturan, a figure instrumental in developing spiritual and social practices in Bali. Some of the language used to document this site in Indonesian would suggest that this was once the spot of his palace. The location has a small mention in Lonely Planet as well. If you are planning to visit these grounds, please be respectful of the culture and bring a sash and sarong. There is a great article on tips for visiting temples in Bali. For smaller temples certainly this won’t be enforced just like you won’t be chased out of an unattended Catholic church, but it is polite.

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A beautifully conserved entrance and doors to the temple

 

A short trip down some steep stone steps led us to a small cliff side altar. The palm leaf plates of offerings were abundant with tales of endless worship. New offerings filled with fresh cooked rice and the faintly wilting flowers told us that sacrifices had been placed only hours ago. I was a little embarrassed because despite the heightened sense of a sacred location, plastic bottles and trash still collected in the inlets of the stone steps and on the forestry beside the path.

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We walked further still to reach the main altar and the smell of the ocean became stronger.

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An elaborate altar set inside a cave facing the sea

Fresh offerings were more abundant in this area, and the smell of burnt incense lingered. Balinese light incense with their offerings. When I left our hotel early in the morning winding our way through the streets, passing the morning stalls beginning to open, I had to watch my feet to ensure I didn’t step on an offering. I was often met with a waft of incense on these occasions too. In Jakarta during an art expo, my husband and I pushed past multitudes of stalls and I could always tell who was a Balinese vendor by the wisps of smoke emanating from their goods.

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A typical Balinese offering of incense, flowers, moss, and an atypical offering of coin money

It seems like there is a rich history associated with this temple, known only to locals and what I have managed to pull from online. If you’re looking to visit don’t expect to gain much knowledge about the location. There are no signs and while it does seem to have some pull for tourists, it is not really set up to act as anything other than a place of worship. It is a short amount of time to cover and see the temple but if you’re in the area well worth the trip.

Also, someone else did the courtesy of uploading a small video of the surrounding area. Enjoy!

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