Today we took a shorter trip to Tanah Lot temple, which sits on a large offshore rock that has been shaped continuously over the years by the ocean tide.
Tanah Lot is claimed to be the work of the 16th-century Dang Hyang Nirartha. During his travels along the south coast he saw the rock-island's beautiful setting and rested there. Some fishermen saw him, and brought him gifts. Nirartha then spent the night on the little island. Later he spoke to the fishermen and told them to build a shrine on the rock, for he felt it to be a holy place to worship the Balinese sea gods.
We paid our entrance fee and quickly walked through the maze of market stalls to reach the temple. Our careful planning had brought us here at low tide so that we could actually walk to the huge rock. The sight and sound of huge crashing waves greeted us. It looked like the tide was already turning. Undaunted we took off our sandals and headed across to the temple rock. For some reason we thought we could climb right up to the temple but when I tried I was turned back by a man, who wasn't well pleased. I thought he wanted me to wear a sarong but then I found out that no visitors were allowed. Later we saw from a distance a lot of men dressed in white at the temple.
At the foot of the rock was a stall where you received a blessing. First we washed our faces from a spout of flowing water. Then we were cleansed with some incense smoke wafting in our faces. Next our foreheads were anointed with rice and a beautiful smelling flower was placed behind our ears. It was all quite lovely.
At the base of the rocky island, venomous sea snakes are believed to guard the temple from evil spirits and intruders. The temple is purportedly protected by a giant snake, which was created from Nirartha's selendang, a type of sash, when he established the island. We retraced our footsteps across the now flooding pathway to the land. I don't know about the venomous snakes but when I paused to put my sandals back on, a great wave passed over my feet giving them a good soaking.
We clambered up on another huge rock to watch the huge waves rolling in. This whole area would be covered by the sea in a few hours. There were a couple more vantage points we visited before heading through some of the stalls on the way back to the van. By this time we were extremely happy to be back in some air conditioning.