Bali, also known as the farmed island of gods, provides a picturesque backdrop with its vibrant, profoundly spiritual, and unique culture. It is a part of the Indonesian archipelago and is located between the islands of Java and Lombok. Diverse landscapes of hills and mountains, rugged coastlines and sandy beaches, lush rice terraces, and barren volcanic hillsides make the province fascinating. With a large number of historical and archaeological attractions, Bali is one of the world’s most visited island destinations. Not only for the back-packers, but it is also a remarkable place to visit for all brackets of people. Bali has various places generating exceptional appeal for architects as well.

1. Ubud

Located in the cool uplands, this city is situated in southern Bali. The city is encompassed by dense rainforest and terraced rice paddies, dotted with Hindu temples and shrines. It houses some budding arts centers and is the home to the Balinese royal family. It is the hub of artisanal traditions and spiritual life. The city is filled with museums that offer paintings, woodcarvings, textiles, and souvenirs.

Ubud acting as the epicenter of the Balinese culture, with its affluent arts and crafts and traditional dance and drama, intrigue architects with its vibrance. Also, the temples flaunting the magnificent culture of Bali prominently, fascinate the designers to a great extent.

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Ubud_©agoda.com

2. Denpasar

Denpasar is the capital city located in the southern part of the Bali province that offers a spectacular landscape view from the beach. It connects various tourist destinations with Bali islands and holds an art festival annually. It consists of tightly knit villages with ancient Hindu temples and Balinese communal compounds. 

A considerable example is the Bajra Sandhi monument located in the heart of Bali. It commemorates the spirit and bravery of the Balinese people to depict their struggle for independence. It features a close connection with Hindu philosophies and independence symbols. 

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Denpasar_©R.M. Nunes

3. Penglipuran Village

Penglipuran is one of the traditional villages located in east Bali. It is one of the most visited locations due to the community which still preserves the traditional culture. It forms a great location as one gets to cherish the well-preserved layout and architecture on the streets. Manicured gardens line the stone-paved streets running to the local temple, and ancient arched entrance gates and walls conceal each house. 

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Penglipuran Village_©www.indonesia-tourism.com

4. Ulun Danu Bratan temple

Pura Bratan is a major Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Shiva sited in Bali. The temple complex lies on the shores of Lake Bratan. In Bali, Hindu temples are known as ‘Pura’ or the open-air places of worship in walled compounds. It has a series of intricately decorated gates without a door. There are four sacred buildings dedicated to lords. The complexly crafted elements on the walls and the planning are the most enthralling attributes of the temple.

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Ulun Danu Bratan Temple_©au.hotels.com

5. Tanah Lot

It is a rock formation with a hollow overpass on the island of Bali. The remarkable rock overlooking the sea stands for earth (Tanah) and sea (lot). It is the home to the ancient Hindu pilgrimage temple ‘Pura Tanah lot’ which shares a striking similarity to the Ulun Danu Bratan temple. 

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Tanah lot_©www.balitourismboard.org

6. Tabanan

It is a regency in Bali recognized for its tea plantation. It is a popular UNESCO world heritage site for its natural landscapes and a reflection of Balinese culture. The sprawling paddy fields following the contours of the terraced land against the background of mountain ranges use the traditional Balinese irrigation system or ‘subak’. These subaks date back to the 9th century creating a splendid setting for the architects.

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Tabanan_©www.ultimatebali.com

7. Puja Mandala

Bali’s religious and cultural diversity is reflected in the temple complex of the Puja mandala. This unique complex features five structures, each for a different religion. These structures are built with intricate architectural details and fine carvings. Outside the premises, there are various shops set up for puja services. 

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Puja Mandala_©2018 Bali Nusa Dua Convention Center

8. Taman Werdhi Budaya Art Centre

One of the popular museums of Denpasar in Bali, this art center houses artifacts displayed in the context of the island’s history. It is the home to several theatres and amphitheaters woven together by classic examples of the local architecture and pleasant garden space. It is a grand two-story with a magnificent façade and a lotus pond.

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Taman Werdhi Budaya Art Centre_©visit2indonesiatourism.blogspot.com

9. Besakih temple

It is a temple complex situated in eastern Bali. It is one of the largest and holiest temples of Balinese Hinduism. It is built on six levels with a terraced upslope with the entrance marked by candi bentar or split gateway. The complex comprises twenty-three temples on parallel ridges. The stepped terraces ascend to numerous courtyards and gateways which lead to the main structure. It follows a single axis hinting that the devotee moves closer to the sacred mountain with each step.

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Besaikh Temple_©www.sugibalitours.coml

10. Gunung Kawi Temple

Gunung Kawi is a temple and funerary complex in Bali which dates back to the 11th century. Comprising a collection of shrine reliefs carved directly into the face of a rock cliff, it is the most unique archaeological site in the province. Besides the shrines is a functioning local temple. Small stone caves serve as meditation sites that complement the shrines. 

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Gunung Kawi Temple_©www.ubudcenter.com

11. Pura Taman Saraswati Temple

Pura Taman Saraswati temple located in Ubud, also known as the Ubud water palace, is dedicated to the Hindu goddess Saraswati. The most notable features of this temple are the lotus pond and water garden. Trees are planted throughout the complex. The intricate carvings on the door of the main temple enhance the beauty of the spot. 

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Pura Taman Saraswati temple_©theworldtravelguy.com

12. Hideout, Bali

It is a getaway in the lush, dense forests of Bali. The main thing about this place is the usage of bamboo. Popular for its thermal properties, bamboo provides temperature stability and natural ventilation. The eyeful location has an equally pleasing view of the campuhan or a place where two rivers meet.

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Hideout Bali_©Sasha Juliard

13. Tirta Ganga

Located in northeastern Bali, Tirta Ganga is the former royal palace which means ‘sacred water of river Ganges’. It features tiered fountains, gardens, and stone sculptures of mythical creatures with water spouts. It is lavishly decorated with water gardens. 

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Tirta Ganga_©www.cntraveler.com

14. Bulgari Resort

The Balinese architecture is distinctively reflected in the Bulgari resort with traces of Italian influences. It gives a spectacular view of the Indian ocean. Along with the traditional architectural elements, there are sleek and bold twists given to the structures. This resort houses a terrace pool, various extravagant facilities and to aggrandize the space, there are rock-cut sculptures and art pieces.

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Bulgari Resort_©Chef Shigeki/Flickr

15. Green School

This school was initially an attempt to raise environmental inclusivity, and enrich the learning environment. It now also serves as a unique architectural sight. The bamboo structures, traditional rooftops, pathways with ponds on either side act as honey to the eyes.

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Green school_©www.greenqueen.com.hk

References:

Nast, C., 2022. 3 Bali homes that are the most magical, restful and healing places on earth. [online] Architectural Digest India. Available at: <https://www.architecturaldigest.in/content/3-bali-homes-magical-restful-healing-places-on-earth/> [Accessed 2 January 2022].

Tripadvisor. (n.d.). THE 5 BEST Bali Architectural Buildings (with Photos). [online] Available at: https://www.tripadvisor.in/Attractions-g294226-Activities-c47-t3-Bali.html [Accessed 2 Jan. 2022].

‌Lytra, V.A. (2015). Top 5 Contemporary Buildings To See In Bali. [online] Culture Trip. Available at: https://theculturetrip.com/asia/indonesia/articles/top-5-contemporary-buildings-to-see-in-bali/ [Accessed 2 Jan. 2022].

‌www.archdaily.com. (n.d.). Bali | Tag | ArchDaily. [online] Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/tag/bali [Accessed 2 Jan. 2022].

‌balicheapesttours.com. (n.d.). Ubud – Everything About Ubud in Bali. [online] Available at: https://balicheapesttours.com/ubud.html [Accessed 2 Jan. 2022].

Author

Namita Karnik is a budding architect, zealous explorer, and imaginative thinker. With the knack of writing, she wishes to convey her thoughts to the world. Thriving for new experiences, she holds immense love for travel, sketching, and photography.

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