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Uluwatu Temple Cliff Set to Crumble?

aerial view : Landscape in Uluwatu Temple, Bali, Indonesia on sunset reports a significant fissure is now visible on the south face of the cliff promontory that supports the Utama Mandala or main temple of  Pura (Luhur) Uluwatu, raising concerns that one of Bali’s most sacred temples established in the 11th century might eventually topple 70-meters into the Bali Sea.

As a precaution, officials monitor the cliff face and surrounding area and limit the number of visitors and worshippers allowed on the promontory at any time. 

Uluwatu Temple Cracks are visible on the right-hand side of the image

Quoted by, the Village Chief (Bendesa) of Pecatu, I Made Sumerta, speaking on Saturday, 9 September 2023, assured all concerned that steps are being taken. “In accordance with the condition of the rock cliff face showing signs of a fissure, the number of worshippers will now be limited,” said Sumerta. 

Sumerta said that the maximum number of worshippers wishing to make offerings at the Utama Mandala (main prayer area) will be limited to 30-50 people. In contrast, in the past, the temple area has accommodated more than 75.

The Madya Mandala, or mid-temple area, is located before entering the main temple and can host up to 400 worshippers. 

The outer circle, or Kanistama Mandala, is used for preparing and assembling offerings and will continue to enjoy unlimited access.

Sumerta said that Pecatu’s religious leaders would soon convene meetings to discuss issues concerning access and control of the main temple. Because the foundation cliff under the main temple shows a significant fault line running vertically down the south face, a precautionary quota of 50 people will likely be implemented. Details on who will be allowed entrance to the main temple during religious festivals and ceremonies will be discussed and announced in due course.

Sumerta suspects that the recent widening of the fissure on the cliff wall may be linked to a 7.6 magnitude earthquake on Tuesday, 29 August 2023, centered near South Kalimantan and felt in Bali.

The public has been aware of a “crack” in the cliff face for several years and reviewed by spiritual and government leaders.

“The next steps will depend on the results of several studies, with any structural repairs and improvements depending on budgets from the Badung Regency Administration. We will ensure the safety, comfort, and confidence of those coming to pray at the temple. Hopefully, a solution for the crack in the cliff face can be resolved soon,” said the Pecatu Bendesa. 

The Pura (Luhur) Uluwatu is a Sea Temple (Pura Segara) situated on a 70-meter-high cliff face overlooking the Bali Sea. One of Bali’s seven most sacred temples (Sad Kahyangan), traditional belief claims the cliff face is the petrified remains of the ship of the Dewi Danu – the Balinese Sea Goddess. 

The temple grounds are home to a large troop of crab-eating macaque monkeys (Macca fascicularis) who have notorious reputations as “snatch thieves” who take personal items (e.g., glasses, handphones, glasses, jewelry) and then hold these items ransom until bribed with food for the return of stolen items. Unfortunately, this tradition has firmly imprinted the thieving behavior of the temple’s primates, escalating the problem over time.

Sunset Kecak Dance at Uluwatu

The foreground, or Kanistama Mandala, of Pura Luhur Uluwatu, is also home to a daily Kecak Dance Performance staged at 6:00 p.m. to coincide with the sunset over the adjoining seascape. Based on a segment from the Ramayana Epic and initially considered a “trance ritual dance,” the Kecak has, over time, become an amalgam of other dance and music forms, including gamelan, cak choruses, and baris.

The Kecak Dance at Uluwatu occupies a “gray area” existing between the sacred and the profane that, as such, precipitated a controversy over whether the daily dance performance is spiritually acceptable. Those opposed to the Uluwatu performances base their objections on the presumption that the Kecak is a sacred dance that should not be commercially presented and the more generalized complaint that temple grounds should not be used commercially.

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