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Pura Taman Ayun, Bali

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Pura Taman Ayun was built by I Gusti Agung Anom, the founder of the Mengwi kingdom, a powerful kingdom in the district of Mengwi, in central Bali, until 1891. I Gusti Agung Anom was also the builder of Pura Ulan Danu. He established Pura Taman Ayun in 1634, when he moved his palace from Balahayu to Mengwi. The name Pura Taman Ayun means the "Temple of the Beautiful Gardens." The date of construction is carved on the door with chronogram reading "Sad Bhuta Yaksa Dewa", meaning 1634AD.

The temple is a penyawangan, or place to worship other sacred sites, with shrines to worship Bali's mountain peaks of Agung, Batukau and Batur, as well as shrine to Pura Sada, another important temple in Mengwi. Unlike the majority of temples in Bali, the orientation of Taman Ayun is towards Gunung Batukau, and not Gunung Agung.

Pura Taman Ayun covers an area of 250m by 100m. Originally dating from 1634, it was restored and enlarged in 1937. The gates, split gates and walls were renovated in 1949, and a pavillion, called bale bengong was added. In 1972, the black fiber roofs were replaced, and in 1976, a pavillion tower, called bale kulkul was added.

Pura Taman Ayun consists of a forecourt, a central court and a spacious inner court. The temple is surrounded by a moat with lotuses, giving it the feel of a garden sanctuary. Beyond the moat, the temple lies on a slightly raised ground. A tall stone gateway separates the forecourt from the central court, while the inner court is surrounded by a stone wall. Frangipanni are grown in profusion all around the wall. Within the inner court are merus, dedicated to various deities and spirits. In total, there are 50 shrines and pavillions in the temple complex

Another interesting thing at the Taman Ayun temple was the kul-kul tower. Rather like a western church steeple with its church bells, the kul-kul tower contains several kul-kuls - vertically hanging split gongs - which are used to summon the faithful to prayer for special temple ceremonies, to warn of danger, or for other special occasions.

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