Pura Ponjok Batu and the Boat-Shaped Shrine

Julah village in Tejakula, Buleleng regency, is one of the areas in Bali where old traditions live on. Here, a sea temple attracts the pilgrims looking to be blessed with prosperity for their business, artists for skilful hands to create works of arts, and fishermen for an abundant catch on a day out at sea.

Tejakula is made
up of a number of coastal hamlets decorated with volcanic rock hills. And on
the coastline of the area’s Julah village lies Pura Ponjok Batu, once the
stopover for the holy Hindu priest, Dang Hyang Nirartha, on his pilgrimage from

It is said that
when Dang Hyang Nirartha arrived at the location of the temple, he spotted a
stranded boat just off the beach. He then went and helped the passengers of the
boat, who were sailors from neighbouring Lombok. To commemorate this event, a
small boat carved out of a rock was placed at the same spot, by a temple, back
in the 90s.

The name Pura
Ponjok Batu, meaning “stone on the edge”, explains the temple’s location. It
sits on the corner of a small peninsula and the structure itself is made from
volcanic rock. Based on the discovery of an ancient, four-handed Catur Buja
statue and a Lembu Nandini (female ox) carving, it is predicted that the temple
was built in the 8th to 13th century, during the period when both statues were

At the front of
one of the temple’s structures, the Gedong Bhatara Sakti Wawu Rawuh, there IS A
sign that reads “Dwa Kerthi Ngastiti Widhi”, which means Çaka 1882 or 1960
AD. This is the year in which the temple underwent major restorations.

In 1960, this was
the time when the restoration of the gedong pelinggih was carried out
where almost all the buildings here were made of carved concrete. On the
seashore on the front of the temple across the road to Tejakula there is a
fresh spring exit and this is where people take tirtha, or holy water,
for ceremonies. At the time of high tides, these fresh springs are invisible.
Therefore the tirtha monument was made on the beach which is a bit high
for the place of maturity.

On the temple’s
main grounds, five tall shrines dedicated to Baruna (ruler of the seas),
Ganesha (the Hindu deity reminiscent of an elephant), God Shiva, Dang Hyang
Nirartha, and God Almighty Sang Hyang Widi, all stand high. In addition to the
main five, there are other shrines that decorate Pura Ponjok, dedicated to
other Balinese Hindu deities, such as Ratu Bagus Mas Pengukiran, Ratu
Ayu Pangenter, Ratu Bagus
Mas Subandar, and Ratu
Bagus Penyarikan.

An excavation on
the site of Pura Ponjok Batu, during a temple renovation in 1995, found a
sarcophagus that dated back to 2500 – 3000BC. This finding, along with several
archaeological studies, suggested that the temple and its surrounding areas
were inhabited by people practicing this unique burial system using the rock
coffin. The sarcophagus is now kept in Pura Duhur, Kayuputih village, also in
Buleleng regency. 

With that being
said, on the beach area of Pura Ponjok Batu, a shrine is built to indicate
another holy spots belonging to the temple. Here lies a fresh water spring,
whose water is believed to be holy and used for may religious ceremonies. In
addition to collecting the holy water, pilgrims also come here to perform
Melukat cleansing rituals, guided by the temple priests who guard Pura Ponjok
Batu. The spring is only accessible during low tide. Visitors are also welcome
to perform the cleansing ritual.

Pura Ponjok Batu
with its fresh water spring plays a vital role in the religious importance of
other surrounding temples, such as Pura Bukit Sinunggal in the neighbouring
Tajun village. A number of important ceremonies are held in Pura Bukit
Sinunggal; and prior to these ceremonies, cleansing rituals must be performed
at Pura Ponjok Batu.


A short drive to
the west from Pura Ponjok Batu will take you to Air Sanih, or Yeh Sanih, a
complex of swimming pools of fresh spring water. One of the very few natural
swimming pools on the island, the spring’s source of Air Sanih is Lake Batur
from where the water flows through an underground channel. 

Singaraja, the
capital of Buleleng regency, is some 30-minute drive to the west from Air
Sanih. En route you’ll encounter a traditional market, where you get to see the
commercial trade of farming and fishing communities from up close. Convenience
stores and modern shops also line the main road connecting Tejakula and
Singaraja, selling a wide range of goods such as music instruments, souvenirs,
electronic appliances, and more.

Once in Singaraja,
you can wander the narrow streets and observe a raw, vibrant and crowded
neighbourhood, where abandoned and decaying old coffee and tobacco warehouses
are to be found along with Dutch-style shophouses in bad repair. 

Of course, when in
North Bali a visit to Lovina is mandatory. Located some 10 kilometres away to
the west from Singaraja, the beach in Lovina spans approximately 2 kilometres
and it encompasses several small costal villages with Kalibukbuk village as its
main focal point. The Lovina beach is a great escape from the bustling, popular
beaches found in South Bali such as Kuta, Legian, and Seminyak that are often,
if not always, crowded. The waves here are calmer, providing a perfect spot for
a swim.

NOW Bali Editorial Team

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