A visit to the Mengwi Royal Temple

So on a dreary afternoon, we ventured to the Mengwi Royal Temple, also known as the Taman Ayun Temple in Bali, Indonesia. Other than being a huge and well landscaped complex, this temple complex hosts the altar reserved for the royalty of Mengwi. Some structures looked old but not ancient, while some looked quite modern, all looked well maintained.

Our driver dropped us off at the entrance to the temple and right away you can see the splendor of it all, not grandiose but rather a large, clean, minimalist complex with sparsely placed structures surrounded by plenty of space with a very well maintained landscape. At the ticket both we paid a nominal entrance fee and proceeded in. Our driver had mentioned that some temples require the usage of a sarong if your pants/skirt/shorts are above the knees some do not. This one did and provided the sarong for my daughters who were wearing shorts (I was informed by my older daughter that hers was a ‘skort’ not a shorts or skirt. I told her, “too bad, you still have to wear it”). What caught me by surprise is when my kids pointed out a sign that said something to the effect of “no entry if you’re on your menstrual cycle.” As if they’d check, I’d wondered as we walked away. Anyways, something to note, I can understand and respect the rule, just taken aback by the prominent sign I guess. I do recall some Buddhist temples having this rule as well. Something to be mindful of, I suppose, if you’re a believer and don’t want “bad karma”.

As we made our way in we had a toilet break and in the area was a snack shop and a rather large cock fighting ‘arena’. I’ve never seen one so legit looking but didn’t think it was still being used to fight roosters as they had placed mannequins inside the fighting area so you’d know exactly what this space is for. My hopes of it being non functional other than for offering a glimpse of historic cultural practices were kinda dashed when I saw a big cage with rooster in it. I couldn’t see everything as it was in an off limits to the public, tucked away in the back area enclosed by a tall bamboo fence. I supposed I shouldn’t have been surprised, as cock fighting is a part of many South East Asian cultures and this being the royal temple, it should be ‘fit for a king’, right?

Continuing on we came up to a big wall that had an elaborate entry point. I’m guessing this is the entry to the area where people go to pray, place offerings etc. I didn’t think it would be gated and locked, but it was. So to see this “main” section, you have to take the inclined path that leads around this wall. Not knowing what to expect, I still didn’t expect what we saw. Basically the front wall with the gate is the short side of one end of a rectangle wall structure. Directly behind these walls is a narrow moat, and within the moat is where all the altars, statues, trees and other things are. If I had to guess, this inner area is about the size of an ice hockey rink. The stone structures and carvings looked weathered and old but well maintained giving them a dated but not ancient look. At the back there’s an elevated area to get a better look. Here’s a couple shots:

Back behind the this main temple area is a vast park with a path that goes in and around it, with gazebo placed here and there. We didn’t have the time to walk the whole park nor did the weather allow us to (it started to rain at this point) so we headed towards some pavilions for some cover.

As we made our way to the exit/entrance we stopped to get some drinks at the gift shop. It was while looking around drinking water that I notice the rooster cage but also stone steps up to a gate. I decided to go check it out. the gate at the top of the steps was locked but you can see into the area quite easily. Maybe this is the ‘royal altars’?

Here’s a few images taken in around the Mengwi Temple complex:

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