A Pura is a Balinese Hindu temple. and the place of worship for the adherents of Balinese Hinduism in Indonesia. Most of the puras are found on the island of Bali, as Hinduism is the predominant religion in the island; however many puras exist in other parts of Indonesia where there are significant numbers of Balinese people. Mother Temple of Besakih is the most important, the largest and holiest temple in Bali. A large number of puras have been built in Bali, leading it to gain the nickname "the Island of a Thousand Puras".
The term pura originates from the Sanskrit word (-pur, -puri, -pura, -puram, -pore), meaning "city", "walled city", "towered city", or "palace". During the development of the Balinese language the term pura came to refer to a religious temple complex, while the term puri came to refer to palace, the residence of kings and nobles, similar to Javanese kratons.
Design and layout
Unlike the common towering indoor Indian Hindu temple, puras are designed as an open air place of worship within enclosed walls, connected with a series of intricately decorated gates between its compounds. This walled compounds contains several shrines, meru (towers), and bale (pavilions). The design, plan and layout of the pura follows the trimandala concept of Balinese space allocation. Three mandala zones arranged according to a sacred hierarchy:
- Nista mandala (jaba pisan): the outer zone, which directly connects the pura compound with the outer realm, and the entrance to the temple. This zone usually takes the form of an open field or a garden that can be used for religious dance performances, or act as an additional space for preparations during religious festivals.
- Madya mandala (jaba tengah): the middle zone of the temple, where the activity of adherents takes place, and also the location for supporting facilities of the temple. In this zone usually several pavilions are built, such as the bale kulkul (wooden Slit drum tower), bale gong (gamelan pavilion), wantilan (meeting pavilion), bale pesandekan, and bale perantenan, the temple's kitchen.
- Utama mandala (jero): the holiest and the most sacred zone within the pura. This enclosed and typically highest of the compounds usually contains a padmasana, the towering lotus throne of the highest god, Acintya (or as he is often known to modern Balinese, Ida Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa). Pelinggih meru, the multiple roofed tower, is similar in design to Chinese or Japanese pagodas. The most sacred compound also contains several pavilions, such as bale pawedan (vedic chanting pavilion), bale piyasan, bale pepelik, bale panggungan, bale murda, and gedong penyimpenan (storehouse of the temple's relics).
However, the layout rules for arrangements the facilities of the two outer zones, nista mandala and madya mandala, are somewhat flexible. Several structures, such as the bale kulkul, could be built as outer corner tower; also, the perantenan (temple's kitchen) could be located in the Nista mandala.
There are two types of gates within Balinese architecture: the split gate, known as candi bentar, and the roofed tower gate in Paduraksa style, usually called kori agung. Both types of gates have specific roles in Balinese architectural design. Candi bentar is the gate used in the nista mandala, while the kori agung is employed as the gate between the madya mandala and Utama mandala inner compounds. The rules for gate types are also valid for non-religious compounds such as puri, nobles' and kings' residences.
Types of pura
There are several types of pura, each serving certain functions of Balinese rituals throughout the Balinese calendar.
- Pura kahyangan jagad: pura that are located in the mountainous region of the island, built upon mountain or volcano slopes. The mountains are considered as the sacred realm, the abode of gods or hyang. The most important pura kahyangan in Bali is Mother Temple of Besakih complex on the slopes of Mount Agung.
- Pura segara: pura that are located by the sea to appease the sea deities. It is usually important during the Melasti ritual. The example of this type of temple is Pura Tanah Lot and Pura Uluwatu.
- Pura desa: pura that are located within villages or cities, serving as the center of Balinese people's religious activities.
- Pura tirta: "water temples", a type of pura that other than religious function, also have water management function as part of Subak irrigation system. The priests in these temples have authority to manage the water allocation among rice paddies in the villages surrounds the temple. Some tirta temples are noted for its sacred water and having petirtaan or sacred bathing pool for cleansing ritual. Other water temple are built within lakes, such as Pura Ulun Danu Bratan. The example of this type of temple are Pura Taman Ayun and Pura Tirta Empul.
The Sad Kahyangan, Sad Kahyangan Jagad or the "six temples of the world" are the six supremely holy temples in Bali. According to Balinese beliefs, they are the pivotal points of the island. They are:
- Pura Besakih in Karangasem, the "mother temple" of Bali,
- Pura Lempuyang Luhur in Karangasem,
- Pura Goa Lawah in Klungkung,
- Pura Luhur Uluwatu in Badung,
- Pura Batukaru in Tabanan, and
- Pura Pusering Jagat (Pura Puser Tasik) in Gianyar.
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