Sakenan Temple in Bali

Hindu Temple on Serangan Island in Denpasar

    Sakenan Temple, locally known as Pura Dalem Sakenan, is a Hindu temple on the north-western shore of Serangan Island in southern Denpasar. The 10th-century temple offers a unique cultural highlight during the temple's piodalan anniversary every 210 days when processions take place on foot or on traditional wooden boats.

    Reclamations took place at Serangan Island in the 90s, changing the natural landscape of the island and the ways of the pilgrims. Most pilgrims make their way to Sakenan Temple by land nowadays and visiting the temple is easy as a bridge now connects the island to the Bali mainland.

    Highlights of Sakenan Temple

    Sakenan Temple was built by the high priest, Mpu Kuturan. He arrived in Bali in AD 1001, before the fall of the Majapahit Kingdom, on a mission to restructure the socio-religious aspects of the Balinese communities.

    The temple comprises 2 sections. The largest had undergone renovations in the past (save for its ancient coral walls) and there’s a smaller part that retains much of its old features. The old temple was built of limestone and corals sourced and cut to shape from the reefs surrounding the island.

    Large, towering trees surround the temple complex, bearing silent witnesses to the temple’s past. They are adorned in chequered cloths and are considered dwellings of guardian spirits of the temple.

    Hundreds of pilgrims from various village temples in southern Denpasar make their way to Sakenan Temple for its piodalan temple anniversary that occurs every 210 days. It coincides with the holy day of Kuningan, which comes around 10 days after the Galungan Day celebrations, another major Balinese Hindu observation.

    Prior to the reclamations that took place in the 90s, pilgrims would carry their ancient heirlooms and sacred temple objects at low tide by foot through mangrove forests towards Serangan. At high tide, traditional outriggers taxi the crowd over the waters. The landmass is now easily reachable by car via a 110-metre bridge – the colourful and unique boat rides are now memories of the past.

    Upon arrival, some devotees head towards the Pura Susunan Wadon, a temple separate from the main Sakenan Temple complex, an approximate half-kilometre to the east. Prayers continue at the Pura Susunan Agung, then finally to the Pura Dalem Sakenan close to Serangan Island’s westernmost shore.

    Good to know about Sakenan Temple

    Pujawali (grand celebrations) and the piodalan temple anniversary of Sakenan Temple falls on a Kliwon Kuningan Saturday, the day of Kuningan on the Balinese 210-day Pawukon calendar. It’s held over 3 days with the peak celebrations usually happening on a Sunday.

    Access to the Sakenan Temple and Serangan Island is easy thanks to the bridge. But during the 3-day temple celebrations, entrance fees apply to both pilgrims and visitors arriving by motorised vehicles. The fees are collected by the village officials and mostly go towards the Serangan community’s fund.

    Several exceptional ceremonial dances are performed during the height of the piodalan (over the Kuningan weekend). These range from Barong dances to various Tari Topeng or mask dances – all provide rare, spur-of-the-moment photo opportunities.

    As with any Bali temple visit, you must visit enter in proper temple attire – at least a simple sarong and sash around your waist. Try to walk around offerings placed on the ground instead of stepping over them. Try not to obstruct a procession in progress. Also, women should not enter temple grounds during their periods.

    Sakenan Temple in Bali

    Location: Jalan Pulau Serangan, Serangan, Denpasar, Bali 80229, Indonesia

    Ari Gunadi | Compulsive Traveller

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