Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Taman Ayun Temple

The temple is located in the village of Mengwi, now a town, around 18 kms north west of Denpasar city. If one wish to find this temple she/he can take the main road of Denpasar - Bedugul through the town of Kapal, then arrive at well known cow market of Beringkit, from here the temple is only around 5 kms to the direction of Bedugul. Exactly at the cross road of Mengwi town turn right, one will soon see the temple.
The name of Taman Ayun literally means the garden of mind. It was probably the temple was designed not only as religious purpose, but also as an art that could be uses as the place of relax and refreshing the soul of the king as well as the people who worship the god and homage of the ancestors. Seen physically, the temple confirms the specific views nd careful choice of location from where the environments are lower and on the west side of the temple location is a river which is blocked at the southern end of the temple to form a wide pool bordering the west part of the temple, and exactly across the pool is the palace.

The outline of the temple as the common temple of Bali is divided into 3 yards. The first is the outer yard, is considered the common place, less holy, the central yard for the place of preparing material of rituals, and the jeroan yard where all sacred constructions and place of ritual are existing. The total size of the temple proper is 250 x 100 meters that covers the 3 yards, not including the pool. Some wrote that the outline of the temple consist of 4 yards they separate the outer yard with 2 shrines dedicated to the ancestor spirits through the temple of Nusa island and Batu Aya. Car parking area is located at the outermost of the yard directly accessible from the main road. This road is leading from the cross road at the center of Mengwi town to the town of Abian Semal and Sangeh monkey forest.

The Jeroan yard, is considered the holiest place of the temple. For Taman Ayun, the jeroan has 25 shrines, as the main shrine is dedicated to the god as the power of irrigation called Ulun Sui, a meru with 11 superimposed roofs. There are another 11 merus for a praying related to some temples outside Taman Ayun so people can pray immediately without specifically come to the respective temple, such as the temple of Gunung Agung, Sakenan, and Batukara, while 2 merus with 9 roofs praying to the temples of Batur and Beratan temples. It is very interesting to know that no one of the main shrine is dedicated to Hindu God as those of India. Most shrines are medium of worship to the spirit of Bali original belief. There is found a shrine at the central yard mentioned as the shrine of Surya with 3 nitched pavilion. Realizing this, it is clear that the status of the temple is specific to the kingdom ancestor's spirits as proved by a shrine dedicated to I Pasek Badak at the jeroan yard.

At the central yard are exist 6 shrines, and at the first yard found 13 shrines including now a big meeting hall called wantilan. This meeting hall can be used for various purposes with capacity more then 200 persons. It is a design based on bali traditional activities with higher place for performance stage. Border between courtyard is separated by gates constructed in red bricks and decorated with beautiful carving of bas relief. Central yard has beautiful zoning with garden. Combined with the palace and it's tradition Taman Ayun temple is a perfect place to organize a cultural activities, especially with dinner. Cultural night program will include traditional performance, music, Bali traditional life, folk art and dinner.

Mengwi kingdom according to a manuscript written on lontar palm leave was started around 1634. King of Tabanan detained a price, and by king of Marga this price was released and brought to Marga When king of Penebel conflicted with Tabanan the price helped Tabanan to win the battle. King of Tabanan gave Marga to this price, who is later known as I Gusti Ngurah Putu. The palace was moved from Marga to Blayu and I Gusti Ngurah Putu made an asceticism on the peak of Mount Mangu to request strong power. Return from asceticism he moved again his palace to Mengwi. From Mengwi he extended his kingdom and was able to annex half of Bali island including Blambangan kingdom on east Java, which is now known as Kabupaten Banyuwangi. Success in bringing Mengwi as the biggest kingdom in Bali including Blambangan, he then used the title I Gusti Agung Sakti Blambangan, and built the temple of Taman Ayun.

   The success of Mengwi can not be separated from the role of commander I Pasek Badak. A common person from the village of Buduk near Krobokan town. Unknown reason king was drawn into unending conflict with Pasek, caused the fall of many victims. It was told that the king was almost defeated and causing a great panic and suddenly Pasek realized that his attitude could erase his great success for years to build the kingdom with the king. That is why he asked the king to kill himself and for the sake of the kingdom he committed to end the conflict, and ordered the king to adopt 40 persons from 4 castes who will continue his commitment to protect the kingdom and his spirit be enshrined at Taman Ayun temple. The king agreed the request of I Pasek and built a shrine at the most sacred yard of Taman Ayun with meru of 2 roofs as the shrine of I Pasek Badak. Those 40 persons worship the spirit of Pasek is called Pasek Bata-bata and until today this group continue to worship him and always obediently praying at front of the shrine to request the strength of I Pasek Badak. Toward the end of 19th century the kingdom of Mengwi totally declined and their kingdom was divided and taken over by Tabanan, Badung, Buleleng, Gianyar, and Bangli. While Blambangan entering the influence of Islam and strong relation with Islamic kingdom of Mataram ( now Yogyakarta ).

The gates of the temple imitate the style of Klungkung palace, as Klungkung was considered the highest ruler on Bali, which location was just on the west side of present day Kerta Gosha in the middle of Klungkung city. Kingdom of Bali under dynasty of Kepakisan with the title I Dewa or Dewa Agung started to enter turbulences since 1651, when their minister from Arya group with title I Gusti took over the rule, although within short time the rule of Kepakisan could be restored, but for the rest of the life of Bali until 20th century Bali continued to experiences breakages and born 9 small kingdoms until the independence in 1945.

The ceremony for the temple is fall on Anggara Kasih Medangsia, a local calendar which can not be regularly fixed with international calendar except the day Anggara means Tuesday. The responsibility on maintenance, rituals, and others is by Mengwi royal palace, assisted by the area of Kecamatan Mengwi. Usually not only people from Kecamatan Mengwi who come to pray during ceremony but also people from outside who might ever the resident under Mengwi kingdom in the past. The ceremony will last for 3 days, and during these days a procession by girls in colorful costumes holding on head a high offering called gebogan, a unique panorama. The procession usually started at 4 o'clock, when the whole yard of the temple is full of beautiful offering of gebongan. Exact time of this ceremony can be seen on Bali local calendar which is published every year. Mengwi kingdom is one of the kingdom that built so many temples such as Taman Ayun, Ulun Danu, Pradasa Kapal, Tanah Lot, Bukit Sari Sangeh, Kedaton, Batukaru, Batu Klotok, and Pucak Mangu.

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