History of Uluvatu Temple and Kechak Dance in Bali

It is difficult to decide which of the two is more famous-the Uluvatu Temple or the kechak dance, which is performed there every day at 6 am. Two years ago, in 2017, the crowd looked huge, and in 2019, when I came back, the crowd looked even bigger!

The whole crowd is there to watch the dance, as tourists are not allowed to enter the Uluvatu temple complex. Of course it had to be so, because the background of the dance performance against the setting sun seemed magical!

History of the Uluvatu Temple

The Temple of Uluvatu is dedicated to Acintia, also called Almighty God! The location of the temple is fascinating. It is located on the edge of a 70 m high cliff at the tip of the Bukit Peninsula in Bali, which juts into the Indian Ocean. The Uluvatu Temple is famous for the kechak dance, which is performed every evening in the open Auditorium overlooking the sea.

The present temple is believed to have been expanded in the 11th century by a Javanese sage, Empu Kuturan, on a previously existing smaller temple. Tourists are not allowed to enter the temple. We saw locals in white clothes entering the Temple Park to say prayers.

Uluvatu, the name consists of 2 words; ulu means Edge and Vatu means rock. So uluvatu translates rocky edge.

What to see around Uluvatu

A beautiful path runs along the edge of the cliff. The sights of this route along the cliffs of Uluvatu are fascinating! You will see white, frothy waves crashing against the cliff. They looked like white carpets to me! This was a place and a time where I wish time would stop! Why are we hurrying?! The views are similar to those that you can capture with a drone.

There is a large statue on the slope near the Uluvatu Temple (Pura Luhur Uluvatu) on the Bukit Peninsula. The Tour along the edge and the temple complex can last more than an hour. So I suggest you arrive early to have the full experience.

Monkey threat in Uluvatu

While everything looks so beautiful in Uluvatu, they tend not to notice their surroundings. Beware! This is when money strikes. Luckily, only one monkey strikes at a time and they decide not to strike as a group.

Uluvatu Monkeys seem to be more interested in sunglasses and cameras. Once a monkey rips it out of your hands / eyes, it’s hard to retrieve items. The trick is to swap your stuff for some fruit.

Monkeys here have been studied for their peculiar behavior of grabbing objects from tourists and then returning them for fruit or other food. They passed on barter skills to younger monkeys and any other new monkeys that joined them.

I did not understand why monkeys play such a joke here. Does it have anything to do with the role Hanuman plays in the kechak dance audience? Let me know what you think after watching the dance.

Dress for the Temple of Uluvatu

All tourists are expected to cover themselves well when they are on the site of the temple, that is, without bare shoulders. Sarongs are available free of charge at entry points. You can use them during the tour of the place and return when you leave.

Kechak dance in Uluvatu Temple

Balinese dance is an ancient tradition; there are several categories of dances in Bali, as mentioned 9 of them! Dancers are said to learn the craft as children. Already in the womb, you will be played balinese music and taught to dance with your hands before you can go! Their dance form is mainly expressed through body gestures; with fingers, hands, head and eyes.

Kechak dance is a form of Balinese Hindu dance and musical drama. It is based on the Hindu mythological story of Ramiana. Interestingly, the kechak dance has been performed only by men since its inception in the 1930s. It was in 2006 that for the first time women also began to perform in this dance.

Twice I saw this Chak-Chak dance in the Uluvatu Temple and both times they performed the same scene of the Ramaiana. The part of the drama that Hanuman enters becomes funny. He jumps off the wall, enters the crowded audience and does funny acts. Everyone seemed to like it.

In the story, Hanuman is captured by Ravana’s men and his cock is set on fire. Hanuman jumps around with his burning cock and all the other cast members, who are Ravana’s men, try to put out the fire. Somehow, that’s why this dance became known as the Fire Dance!

Sunset in Uluvatu

Meanwhile, the sun sets right behind the gallery, where the dance drama takes place. It can distract, as the sky reflects beautiful colors. At this twilight time, you can get silhouettes of artists sitting in positions just outside the gate.

Tips for visiting the Uluvatu Temple

  • Follow the dress code for the Uluvatu Temple. No bare shoulders. Cover yourself with a scarf / sarong provided at the entrance.
  • Arrive early. There are only about 700 tickets to the gallery to watch kechak dance. Because group tickets are sold, tickets sell out quickly. This was reminiscent of tickets to the Alhambra in Granada, Spain.
  • Do not feed the monkeys. Keep cell phones, cameras and sunglasses safe. Monkeys are brave to grab them.
  • Toilets are available.
  • Ample Parking.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.