“Mengwi Temple”


Raised Gateway in Mengwi Temple. Bali December 23, 2010.

Have you seen a movie “Eat Love Pray” ? Well, it’s a very famous movie inspired from the same book written by Elizabeth Gilbert, that tells her own true story. I read the book first in early 2010, “What the heck”, I said to my self, “I want to go to Bali and meet the medicine man in this story and photograph him, then meet the other character in the story and also go to the exotic place mentioned in it. So there I went alone and you know what ? Miraculously all my wishes were granted and I indeed met them all and got what I wanted in the journey. It’s a very interesting process in finding my true self after 18 years of working in commercial photography where I take orders from other people and rarely have my own will.


I experience my process in finding my true self and start to recall my deeply buried passion for portrait, landscape, archaeology, history, culture among many things, and am so happy knowing that I know what I want after all those commercial years then.


It’s interesting to follow my heart, no matter how odd it was. What ever interest my self I would follow, or shoot it straight away. This way leading to more a responsive and instinctive photographer. This was when I realized that my right brain and left brain could cooperating in making images. Sometimes I just felt that I had to shoot certain object at certain spot only to end up in an amazing pictures.


In one of my frequent travel to Bali, I went to this amazing place called Taman Ayun, or Mengwi Temple which means beautiful garden. This temple is indeed one of Bali’s most picturesque temple. It was built in the 1634 AD, in the time at the rule of the first king of Mengwi. As most of other Balinese temples, Pura Taman Ayun has 3 connecting temple yards. The innermost sanctum is know as “Utama Mandala” (the highest circle), the middle yard as “Madia Mandala” (the circle in between), and outer as “Nista Mandala” (The humblest circle). To enter the main sanctum one must pass through a raised Gateway, know as the Kori Agung (Paduraksa), and the gateway, between the outer and middle connect in split gate known as “Candi Bentar”.


Inner temple yard viewed from outer raised gate.

Canon 550D + 18-55 EFS IS. ISO 400, 1/4000th, F 5.6


As the Royal family temple of the Raja Mengwi, this temple is a place to worship the royal ancestors, who find their rest in a special shrine know as the “Gedong Paibon”. Apart of it Raja Mengwi also built other shrines in middle court so that all the people at Mengwi able to conduct the religious ceremonies at the temple, such as “meajar-ajar”, memendak sang pitara, and request holy water to protect the rice fields from pestilence, etc. The extensive temple grounds of Taman Ayun also function as a resting place for the Royal family.


The front gate of Mengwi Temple, Bali.

Canon 550D + 18-55 EFS IS. ISO 400, 1/640th, F 13.


In its history, Mengwi Temple has been influenced by up and down of its kings. In 1890 there was a war between the Rajas of Badung Ang Mengwi, and the 10th Raja Mengwi, I Gusti Made Agung lost the battle, and had to retreat to escape to the eastern district border. During the reign of the victorious Raja of Badung the temple was never looked after properly, and the temples building deteriorated due to lack of care.
However, in the year 1911 AD, part of the Royal Family returned to their kingdom, and Pura Taman Ayun was restored. Unfortunately, on January 20
th, 1917 a violent earth-quake damaged many of the existing buildings. Repairs have been done in stages to restore the temple to its original condition.


The upper part of raised gateway with beautiful sculptures.

Canon 550D + Leica Viso 90/4 Elmar with adapter. ISO 200. 1/4000th. Aperture not recorded.

I always want to create a different images than other people and always try to simulate their way of thinking or viewing a scenery then act in opposite manner. So when I entered Mengwi Temple, I definitely knew what not to shoot and what I want. You can see tourists shooting from usual spots and no body was shooting from pathless spots.

Walking around to pathless spots I found an interesting angle and got this perspective with my Leica Elmar 90/4. Always keen on black and white images, I chose to shoot it that way, resulting in pictures that brought back the ancient times feel to them. It’s like I can sense the atmosphere of the past with its glory in this amazing historical ground.


2 thoughts on ““Mengwi Temple”

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