Pura Luhur Uluwatu

The Unexpected Lesson in Uluwatu Temple

They say children are the greatest teachers of all … To some of you it may sound a little bit strange. To me the lesson I learned in Uluwatu Temple from a young Balinese boy while watching the Kekac Dance made me think twice about its meaning.

Lesson learned …

Uluwatu Temple is one of the most magical places I had ever been. Bali’s oldest temple during the sunset holds something magical. The little boy was surrounded by all these far much older Balinese men who sang along. He sat next to his dad singing along “Cak! Cak! Cak! Cak!”. I was not that far away from where he sat and I watched him closely. He uttered no words into my ears, but his face sang a song of truthfulness. Belonging and believing. Love and respect for the Balinese past and ancestors altogether. I’m just a holiday photographer, yet I hope I captured something of this little boy’s truth in my pictures.

Uluwatu Temple

Definitely, this temple is a must see when in Bali! Pura Luhur Uluwatu as locals call it, Uluwatu Temple is known all over the world for being one of the six key temples of Bali. It also one of the top places on the island to go watch an unforgettable sunset.

The temple is perched on top of a steep cliff approximately 70 meters above sea level with views overlooking the beautiful Indian Ocean and daily Kecak Dance performances.

The name “Luhur” means “something of divine origin”; “ulu” stands for the “land’s end” and “watu” the “rock” in the old language. It is one of the nine directional temples of Bali meant to protect it from evil spirits. Hindu mythology says the rock is part of Dewi Danu’s petrified barque. Dewi Danu is the goddess of water and one of two supreme deities in the Balinese tradition.

The temple is inhabited by macaque monkeys, who are notorious for snatching visitors’ belongings. Trust me when I say that these monkeys are extremely skilled and unpredictable! Just read The Monkey Playing Harmonica story!

The Monkey Thief Playing Harmonica in Uluwatu Temple

Visiting Uluwatu Temple in Bali is a must. Uluwatu Temple, or Pura Luhur Uluwatu, one of the six key temples believed to be Bali’s spiritual pillars, is renowned for its magnificent location, perched on top of a steep cliff approximately 70 meters above sea level.

As I was hoping to enjoy that splendid sunset coming down over the temple and the Indian Ocean, a monkey caught my attention. That is when I discovered that I was dealing with a monkey thief… playing harmonica.

Meeting the monkey thief

I was told to be mindful of the monkeys as they can take you by surprise with their ability to steal anything shiny or colorful, and yet, I kind of said to myself “Oh, yes, sure!”. Until the unexpected happened!

As I was walking on the serpentine pathway fortified by concrete walls on the cliff side, looking to find a good spot to take some pictures, I saw the small forest nearby where hundreds of monkeys dwell. I was just about to sit down when suddenly a monkey jumped high from a tree branch and in the blink of an eye got what it wanted all along… a pair of shiny Burgundy glasses from a Japanese tourist. It happened so fast, I didn’t have time to capture it on camera. And a few seconds later, as if nothing had happened, our monkey sat down and took a closer look at the capture.

The first cautious and delicate bite was followed by a second stronger bite. At first she didn’t seem to care about the crowd of people starring at her.  Yet, only a few seconds later, her face said something else!

monkey thief monkey thief monkey thief  monkey thief 

But the crowd kept staring at the monkey thief, while the Japanese lady desperately tried to get back her glasses back. Decisions had to be made!

Playing Harmonica

From that moment, all that happened was very much like a totally surprising scenario from a TV series where the villain, in our case the monkey thief, has a sudden change of personality. Shortly after, our monkey thief turned into a musician! A musician playing the harmonica! 🙂

monkey harmonica  monkey harmonica

And she tried, and she tried, hoping to see a sign of good will form the crowd, but nothing happened.

But, instead she saw the Japanese lady taking a few steps towards her, clearly determined to try to take back what was rightfully hers. And the musician turned again into the thief!

monkey harmonica monkey harmonica

And our monkey graciously moved with delicate steps a little bit further.

 monkey harmonica

Meanwhile, not very far from the crowd, two more relaxed and wiser monkeys… One seemed just simply tired at the entire scene happening in front of her yeas. By contrast, the second monkey looked both puzzled and frustrated.

monkey thief monkey thief

Note: Article also published on Pets of Champions