Rambut Siwi Temple is the most important temple in Jembrana which lies about 20 km west of the Tabanan border by the village of Yeh Embang. Its entrance is marked by a smalll shrine at the edge of the road, where Balinese travelers stop briefly to pray for safety in their journey. Two hundred meters from the main road lies the main temple complex, perched on a cliff at the edge of the ocean.
Pura Rambut Siwi is an important monument to the priest Danghyang Nirartha, who came to Bali from Java during the decline of the Majapahit Kingdom in the hopes of fortifying Balinese Hinduism against the spread of Islam occurring elsewhere in the archipelago. Between 1546 and 1550 he traveled through the island teaching and unifying the Hindu populace. According to legend, he stopped to pray at a viilage temple at Yeh Embang, and made a gift of his hair to the temple. Since that time it has been known as Rambut Siwi. which means “worship of the hair.”
The complex consists of three temple enclosures in a setting of great natural beauty. The first one you encounter as you enter from the main road is the largest and most important, the Pura Luhur where Danghyang Nirartha’s hair is kept. A majestic condi bentar or spilt gate on the southern wall of the inner courtyard opens onto the cliff, offering dramatic views of the surf below. Gnarled frangipani trees litter the ground with fragrant blossoms, and incense burns at the feet of mosscovered stone statues swathed in white cloth.
From Pura Luhur you can walk east along the top of the cliff to a winding stone stairway that descends to Pura Penataran, the original where Danghyang Nirartha is believed have prayed. When the Balinese worship at Rambut Siwi they first enter this temple.
Walking back westward along the beach you pass a small shrine at the entrance to a cave in the cliff wall. This cave is said to be lair of mystical animals the duwe or holy beast of the temple. A well at the mouth of the cave is a source of holy water that is salt free despite its proximity to the ocean. Just beyond the cave, another stairway leads back up to the temple. Perched on the edge of the cliff here is the tiny Pura Melanting where merchants stop to pray for prosperity.
A large open-air performance pavilion and two gazebos set amidst lily ponds to the west of Pura Luhur are excellent places to rest and enjoy a panorama of ricefields and white wave crests curing against the black sand coastline as far as the eye can see.
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