It has been said that there are more temples than homes in Bali. Strictly speaking, many temples are really shrines but the number of religious compounds in Bali is said to be over 10,000 spread throughout the far-flung corners of the island, from mountain and hilltops to low-lying coastal areas.
The temple is the meeting point between humans and gods. Normally peaceful and uninhabited, Bali’s temples transform into scenes of great activity and are ornately decorated during festivals and temple anniversaries with traditional dance performances, cockfighting and gambling. You’ll find that each of Bali’s temples is unique and that they either face towards the mountains, the sea or towards sunrise.
In Bali, the mountains are considered the holiest part of the island, and Mount Agung is the highest and holiest mountain. Thus the mother temple, Besakih, is situated on the slopes of Mount Agung. It is everyone's hope that the gods will descend to the temples and the different ceremonies from there.
Every village in Bali has several temples, and every home has at least a simple house-temple. All temples are built on a mountains–sea orientation, not north–south. The direction towards the mountains, kaja, is the end of the temple, where the holiest shrines are found. The temple’s entrance is at the kelod. Kangin is more holy than the kuah, so many secondary shrines are on the kangin side. Kaja may be towards a particular mountain – Pura Besakih, about 40 min by car from us, is pointed directly towards Gunung Agung.
So there are many temples in Bali, often called the island of thousand temples. Which actually is an understatement. There are temples for almost all aspects of Balinese life. There are house temples, village temples, family temples, banjar temples, subak temples, cave temples, temples for ancestors, rice fields, and even for monkeys.
In Villa Sidemen we have our own house temple just outside our terrace and placed as close as possible to Mount Agung.