Pura Tirta Empul Water Temple: A Guide To The Melukat Purification Process
Pura Tirta Empul water temple is one of the most magical temples you can visit in Bali. Home to some of the holiest water in Indonesia, Tirta Empul is a must visit during your stay in Ubud.
The main reason to visit, of course, is to take part in the Melukat purification process.
Tirta Empul is the one temple I have visited the. most in Bali and having taken part in the purification process, I thought I’d share the details with you so you know exactly what to expect.
If you’re looking for more temples to visit in Bali, check out this post.
How To Get To Pura Tirta Empul Water Temple
Pura Tirta Empul is located a 15-20 minute drive from the centre of Ubud and is easy to get to whether you’ve hired a driver or you’ve got your own scooter. If you’re coming from Canggu or Seminyak, it will take roughly an hour and a half to two hours, depending on traffic.
If you’re taking your own car or scooter, the cost of parking is 2000 IDR.
My first and second visits to Pura Tirta Empul water temple were done as part of an ‘Ubud Day Tour‘ booked through Get Your Guide. This definitely made the whole process of getting there much easier, as our driver was able to tell us where to go and was there to pick us up when we finished.
The third time, I was able to navigate the experience myself as a result of being a couple of times before. Of course it’s easier with a guide, but there are lots of helpful guides there that are willing to help you too.
Tirta Empul Opening Hours And Entry Costs
Pura Tirta Empul is currently open from 8am until 6pm every day and it is open to both Balinese locals and tourists. This is a very sacred place to locals and it is important for you to respect that it is a religious place where people will be going to take part in their own rituals and prayers.
To enter as a tourist, you need to purchase a ticket for 50,000 IDR or 25,000 IDR for children. As you walk out of the carpark, you will easily see where to do this.
What Do You Need To Wear?
As this is a place of worship, you will need to wear a sarong to cover the lower half of your body. You can take your own or use one of the ones that they hand out at the entrance to the temple. It’s not as strict as Lempuyang Temple, however, they will help you tie it to ensure you’re properly covered.
If you’re going to take part in the Melukat ritual, you will need to change into a different sarong, one that is suitable for going into the water. This can be your own personal sarong, or you can purchase one that has been specifically designed. This costs an additional 25,000 IDR to rent and you will not be able to enter the water without one.
It is recommended you wear a bikini or swimwear underneath the sarong.
Are There Lockers At Pura Tirta Empul?
If you’re taking part in the purification ritual then you will need to get changed once you arrive. Once you’ve rented your water-friendly sarong, you will lockers and changing rooms to your right. You can rent a locker when you purchase your sarong, this is usually 10,000 IDR and is definitely worth it if you want to store all of your stuff safely while you take part in the process.
If you have trouble putting the sarong on correctly, there are lots of guides that will be able to help you.
Finding A Guide At Tirta Empul Water Temple
Speaking of guides, you will need to find a guide in order to take part in the process. They will talk you through, step by step, what is needed in order to correctly complete the Melukat ritual properly. It’s also a great way to learn why they take part in this ritual as well as the history of the the temple, too.
As this is a spiritual ritual, it is important you do everything correctly in order to respect the culture.
Guides will usually be at the start of the temple, where you find the sarongs. If you’re unable to find anyone here, enter the temple and wait in the main area until you see someone become free. Usually, they will approach you to see if you’re interested in taking part in the ritual.
What Is The Melukat Purification Process?
“Melukat” is a very common cleansing and healing ritual amongst Balinese locals. Essentially, it is a spiritual activity where a person immerses themselves in holy water – which is said to wash away sickness, turmoil and negative karma.
At Pura Tirta Emple Water Temple, it takes place under the fountains in the main courtyard - Jaba Tengah.
For Balinese people this ritual usually takes place when there is a full moon or new moon, however, you can take part in the ceremony whenever you want and it will still benefit you. In fact, there are hundreds of people that take part in the ceremony every single day, no matter the occasion.
What Steps Do You Need To Take?
There are a number of different steps that need to be completed in order to finish the purification and healing process. These will be explained to you in detail by your guide, but I wanted to provide an idea of what you will be doing during the pr0cess so you know exactly what to expect.
- Once you get changed into your water-friendly sarong, the first thing you will need to do is make an offering. Your guide will prepare your offering, otherwise known as canang sari, for you and then show you where to sit in order to offer it to the Gods.
- You will need to place your right hand on top of your left, with the offering on top of that in order to present it to the Gods positively. Then, you can take as long as you need to asking for permission to enter the temple.
- Once you have asked for permission, you can enter Jaba Tengah and enter the holy springs. It’s important to note that to get into the springs you will have to climb down into them. They are just above waist high but can be very slippy and difficult to get into. The bottom of the springs is made up of pebbles, which can be painful to stand on especially if you’re waiting to use a specific fountain for a long period of time.
- In the first spring, you will be using fountains 1-10 and fountain 13. 11 and 12 are reserved for the dead and therefore you do not need to use them. As you approach each fountain you first pray and set your intentions. Then, you take your hands and place them under the water, washing it over your head three times. If you want, you can then take a drink of the water, but I do not recommend this. Finally, place both your hands onto the wall and run your head under the water for as long as you want.
- Next, you will need to climb over a small ridge to get into the next spring. Here, you will use the last fountain and repeat the process. Instead of setting your intention, however, you will say sorry.
- You will then need to exit the spring and climb into the next one, where you will again use only the first fountains. At this one, the final one, you ask for permission, say sorry, express your thanks and then set your intentions. You repeat the process of washing the water over your body and then when you feel ready to get out, you can leave.
The process, if quiet, can take around 20 minutes to complete but it’s important to bear in mind that you won’t be the only one there and you may have to wait to use each fountain. Because of this, I suggest giving yourself around 45 minutes from start to finish.
This does not include any time that may be spent waiting to enter the pool, as I know people have had waits as long as 1-2 hours in the past. Weekends around midday are particularly busy and so I recommend going as early as you possibly can.
Can You Take Photos?
It is not recommend you take your phones with you and so if you want photos, like the ones pictured, you can ask your guide if they’ll take your phone and take them for you. They didn’t interrupt the process in order to take photos and instead took these naturally as we went throughout. They’re are also a number of guides that have cameras and they will take photos for you too. You can purchase these as you leave and they will print them there and then, putting them in a nice protective sleeve.
How Much Does Melukat Cost?
There is not set cost to take part in the ritual, however, it is highly recommended that you tip your guide. They work here every day sharing how to take part in a ritual that is special to them and without tips, they do not earn any money. After spending around 30-45 minutes with them during the process, a tip of around 50,000 - 100,000 IDR is reasonable. It is, however, completely up to you how much you give.
What Else Can You Do At Tirta Empul Water Temple?
If you’re not interested in doing the purification or you would like to explore the temple a little more, there are lots of other things to do while at Pura Tirta Empul water temple.
- In Jeroan, the inner courtyard, you can see the famous Holy Spring water. This is the water the is used for the purification process, however, you cannot enter this water. It is considered to be some of the holiest water in Hindu culture.
- To the left of the front courtyard there is an area where you can go to feed the koi fish. Similar to Tirta Gangga, you can buy a small bag of fish food for around 5000 - 10,000 IDR and can feed it to the fish that are there.
- There are shrines to many Hindu Gods throughout the temples so if you wander around each of the courtyards, you will be able to see them.
- As you leave the temple you will have to walk through markets in order to get back to the carpark. This is unavoidable but I recommend looking at these markets as they are actually some of the most affordable I came across in Bali as everyone is trying to get you attention. Walk fast and if you spot something you like, you should be able to get a good price for it.
A personal warning
I wanted to save some space at the end of this post to say that when I took part in the purification ritual, I actually ended up getting quite sick. As part of the ritual is to put your head under holy water, it’s easy to accidentally digest it, even if you just end up licking your lips without thinking.
As a result, I ended up with Bali belly and I had to spend a couple of days taking it easy while taking medication.
There are a number of reviews on TripAdvisor that also say they got sick after taking part in the ritual, so it is definitely something to consider if you have a sensitive stomach. I am glad I did it, but I know it’s not something I would do again knowing this information.
The whole experience at Tirta Empul water temple is definitely something you should consider during your time in Bali, even if you don’t take part in the purification. Let me know if you visit and if you have any other questions, I’ll do my best to answer them!