One of the most iconic images of Bali is of a magical sun setting by the majestic Tanah Lot Temple. This pilgrimage temple, located on top of a rock formation off the Tabanan beach, is a popular tourist spot and a cultural icon for the religious locals. Tanah Lot means Land in the Sea in Balinese, and it is located approximately 20km away from Denpasar. The temple is the work of 15th century priest Nirartha, who saw the beautiful setting of the rock formation and rested there. The priest then spent the night on the little island, and later spoke to nearby fishermen about the spiritual awakening that he felt there. The fishermen were tasked to build a shrine on the rock as a place to worship the Balinese Sea Gods.
The iconic temple has been a part of local folklore and Balinese mythology for centuries. It is one of the seven sea temples located around the Balinese coast, each of which were constructed within eyesight of the next to form a chain of holy places along the south-western coast of Bali.
The place is an extremely popular spot for watching the sunset, and the area leading to it are highly commercialized. To reach the temple, visitors will pass by numerous souvenir shops on both sides of the path, each enticing tourists to shop and splurge. Recent development has also seen several restaurants perched atop the mainland cliff tops. Instead of jostling with the crowd for a view of the magical sunset, one option is to book a hotel nearby and rise early in the morning to enjoy a stunning sunrise instead.