Partially shaded by the dripping trunks of an old banyan tree, Kehen Temple, also known as Pura Kehen, is a many-tiered stone homage to the Hindu pantheon. Bearing stelae inscribed in Sanskrit, Balinese and Javanese that seem to indicate an 11th century founding, this is the state temple of the Bangli kingdom and considered one of the region’s finest. It is said to be a miniature version of Bali’s most significant temple, Pura Besakih, just 13 miles (21 km) away. The complex is comprised of a sloping terraced entryway, the main temple with three interior courtyards and a series of smaller meru shrines and altars.
The main temple is accessed by a series of 38 stone steps, passing eight well-manicured terraced gardens. Its elaborate carvings and tall, slender doors give way to three courtyards, the second bears inlaid Chinese porcelain and the innermost courtyard features an 11-tiered meru roof. Along the base of the buildings’ exteriors, it’s possible to see stylized carvings of snakes and turtles, representing the underworld. Within the central courtyard is an impressive moss-blanketed stone lotus throne. During the many annual religious ceremonies, like Pangerwesi when locals visit temples to guard against evil, it’s possible to see colorful dances on the temple grounds and baskets of fruit laid in tribute.
Kehen Temple in the southern portion of the Bangli region, is just over a mile north of the town of Bangli. It’s 26 km (16 miles) northeast from Ubud (about an hour’s drive in normal traffic) and 43 km (27 miles) north of Denpasar. Adult admission is around 15,000 IDR ($1.15) and children are free. Hours are approximately 9am- 5pm; many visit as part of an organized tour of Bali.