Vihara Amurva Bhumi: Blahbatuh, Central Bali

Occasionally on my travels over the decades I come across little gems of places. Most are rarely seen by the usual day-trippers. I found one such gem hidden away on the outskirts of Blahbatuh in Central Bali.

As we crossed the bridge over the Petanu River just before we entered Blahbatuh, Candika saw the tops of the pagodas on the riverbank hillside. I quickly pulled over to the side of the road where a small gravel section had been laid. Set into a large boulder and mostly covered by foliage was a plaque – Vihara Amurva Bhumi.

A steep stairway hewn into the rockface led us down to a flat area above the Petanu River and underneath the bridge, and before us a reasonably large Vihara.

We were greeted by the keeper of the temple. Dressed all in white he told me a brief history of the Klenteng, how it was consecrated in 1988 and the number of devotees he estimated to be in the low hundreds. Candika, my wife, was eager to pray and the keeper was more than pleased to introduce her to the deities within the Klenteng. This left me happily taking photos.

The Klenteng was adorned in the usual colours of red – signifying happiness, and, yellow – signifying wealth and prosperity. The Tungku just inside the red iron gates was adorned in a mass of colour. The Tungku is where devotees burn pieces of paper as offerings to the deities of the temple.

Within the grounds of the Klenteng, dragons adorned supporting pillars, statues of animal deities were positioned in various places, and as guards to into the inner sanctuary where a gold Bhudda statue sits.

The wife of the keeper showed me to another sanctuary where porcelain statues of deities stood in the dimly lit room. Outside, in an open-air bale a Bante, or teacher of Dharma, was instructing a group of young people.

As I walked down the side of the temple I found, to my amazement, a huge open-air auditorium cut into the side of the rock cliff. Higher up on the cliff face there were a series of niches newly cut and into which will be placed statues of Bhudda in varying poses.

Candika and I spent a few hours here talking to the devotees and monks. A cool breeze was blowing up from the waters of the Petanu River. This Klenteng was a pleasant find and both of us looked forward to retuning there, very soon.