Lempuyang Temple, locally referred to as Pura Lempuyang Luhur, is one of Bali’s oldest and most highly regarded temples, on par with Besakih (aka the ‘mother temple’ of Bali). It is also believed to predate the majority of Hindu temples on the island. Definitely a highlight on any travel itinerary for the fit and adventurous, the main temple lies at 1,175m above sea level, up on the peak of the namesake Mount Lempuyang in East Bali.
The heights are reachable via a steep staircase of over 1,700 steps, with attractions along the way including several other temples and hordes of grey long-tailed macaques that inhabit the surrounding cool mountain forests.
While avid hikers will love the blend of mountains and cultural excursions that Bali’s eastern region has to offer, those unwilling to take on the ascent up to the peak at Lempuyang Temple can still enjoy the splendid views at the grand Pura Penataran Agung temple at the foot of the mountain. The first to come into view on the pilgrimage, this temple offers an impressive sight with its towering dragon staircases – perfect for photos.
The best views are higher up the stairs, where you can see all the way across the green forested slopes and neighboring Mount Agung, Bali’s highest peak and abode of Besakih Temple.
There are many motorcycle taxis operated by local villagers that can take you up where the asphalt ends at the Penataran Agung, for a negotiable fee. They are convenient for those who wish to start their climb quicker, shortening the time on foot from the parking area. After enjoying the views at this first stop, the main site of Lempuyang Temple is still another thousand and a half or so steps up, slightly intimidating for most visitors.
Nevertheless, the locals believe that pilgrims with a heavy heart will never make it to the top, hence the spiritual aspect of the climb.
The locals strongly believe that besides maintaining respectful behavior and speech, you shouldn’t complain on your way up – otherwise, you’ll never succeed reaching the main temple at the peak. Strong-willed pilgrims get to enjoy splendid panoramas of the eastern Bali mountain range and coastline step after steep step, surrounded by lush surroundings and fresh mountain air. The grey macaques here are not as curious and mischievous as their relatives in Uluwatu on the island’s southern coast, and it is always a rule of thumb to not have any loose gear or feed them.
After an approximate two-hour climb, the Lempuyang Temple at the peak welcomes weary pilgrims with a prize view and a calming place of respite. The temple itself is smaller compared to the Penataran Agung, but there is a more mystical feel about the setting and calmness. Prayers ensue with refreshing holy water from the priest that soothes body, mind and soul. Naturally, the temple is not very crowded, and is top of the list on sights to see and endeavors off the beaten path in Bali.