The Buleleng temples are located in the North-East of Bali in the Buleleng region. This region is known for its quiet farmer villages, black beaches, and its beautifully decorated temples. Some of Bali’s finest temples are found here.
Once there you might see there are some differences between the temples in the south and north of the island. The reason for the big difference is the type of stone from which the temples of Buleleng are built.
In the north, there is the availability of volcanic sandstone, which makes carving easier.
Sandstone has enabled the Balinese craftsmen to sculpt all kinds of decorations in the temple walls some of which are very complex, such as three-dimensional demons.
The wall sculptures are traditional pictures of daily or religious stories; however, the Balinese love caricatures which have resulted in many funny depictions as well.
There are even carvings that show how life was not so long ago. You will find boats of the Dutch occupier being attacked by sea monsters or their airplanes falling from the sky. And funny but true, sculptures of fat Europeans.
After a closer look, you can see that many of these stone carvings are very detailed. They show really complicated craftsmanship.
The most amazing and funny temple decorations can be found in Sangsit, Jagaraga, Kubutambahan and Yeh Sanih.
All these villages are located on the east side of Singaraja. They are easy to reach, whether you travel by public bus or with your own transport.
In Sangsit you can find the Pura Beji. This temple was built in the 15th century during the highlight of the Majapahit and is considered one of the oldest temples in Bali.
The Pura Beji is a subak temple, which means that it is dedicated to the goddess Dewi Sri who protects the irrigated rice fields. This temple is fully decorated with wall sculptures of demons, snakes, and devils.
Not far from this temple is another one that is worth visiting. At the Pura Dalem you can see wall sculptures of scenes of punishment in the afterlife. These stories are humorous and erotic which are meant to scare away demons.
Pura Maduwe Karang
The unusual Pura Maduwe Karang is located in Kubutambahan. This temple is “the temple of the landowner” and here the gods are worshiped to ensure successful harvests of crops on un-irrigated lands.
The temple is one of the biggest in Bali and it is often said to be one of the nicest as well. Like the other temples, the wall sculptures are really nice to see.
The most famous wall sculpture is of a Dutchman riding a bicycle with wheels of flowers. The cyclist is W. Nieuwenkamp, a famous Dutch painter who in the 20th century cycled around the island.
If you are traveling along the coast of North Bali then you should try to stop at least at one of the temples in the Buleleng regency to see the beautiful and surprising carvings in the temple walls.