Uluwatu temple, a Balinese Hindu temple, overlooks the sea from a 230 feet high cliff. The name originates from ulu meaning top and watu meaning stone or rock in Balinese. The temple is most popular at sunset. Every evening the ancient Kacek Ramayan and Fire Dance is performed at an open air arena near the temple.
- Have a prearranged ride from the temple. Being a popular stop on many tour itineraries, there are few available taxis leaving Uluwatu Temple. Our resort advised us to schedule a return trip with the taxi driver upon pickup in the lobby. After the Kacek Ramayan and Fire Dance we did see a few taxis outside the parking lot, but were glad to already have a meeting time and place scheduled with our driver.
- A sarong and sash must be worn at the temple. After paying 30,000 Rupiah per person to enter the temple, sarongs and sashes are available at no cost for both men and women. The sarongs are worn throughout the dance and returned upon exiting the temple.
- Beware of the Macaques. The monkeys, believed to protect the temple from evil sea spirits, are known for their mischievous and occasionally aggressive behavior. Make sure bags are securely closed and all shiny accessories are out of sight. Use caution when showing teeth (smiling and laughing) or making eye contact. These actions can provoke the Macaques and result in aggressive behavior.
Kacek Ramayan and Fire Dance
There are no instruments or music throughout the dance. The 5 acts are performed to the chanting and singing of 50-60 men. The combination of ancient ritual, dance, drama, and setting of the sun over the ocean accompanied by the melody of chanting and singing is a memory that will last long after leaving Bali.
- Tickets to the Kacek Ramayan and Fire Dance are available at the temple. We followed a stream of people to a pavilion engulfed by men holding 100,000 Rupiah bills into the air, pushing, and shouting their way closer. Mitch joined the mass resembling shoppers fighting for a free big screen TV at Wal-Mart on Black Friday to get our tickets to the Kacek Ramayan and Fire Dance. A paper outlining each act, in the requested language at the time of purchase, is included with the ticket costing 100,000 Rupiah per person.
- Seating is first come first serve. After visiting the temple we walked the short distance to the open air arena. At 5:35pm we were among the last people seated. After the arena seating was full, visitors were directed to sit on the ground or asked to stand along the entrance. The show began at 6:00pm and the 5 acts lasted about 45 minutes.
Act 1: Sita wanders into the Dandaka forest during her exile and spots a deer. She pleads for her husband, Rama, to catch it. Afraid for Sita alone in the forest, Rama leaves her in the protection of his brother, Laksamana. Soon after leaving Sita and Laksamana a cry for help echoes throughout the forest. Fearful of her husband’s safety, Sita sends Laksamana to his aid leaving her unprotected and alone in the dangerous forest.
Act 2: A storm engulfs the forest. When evil Rhawana’s attempts to kidnap Sita fail because she is protected by a magic circle, he returns disguised as an old man seeking shelter and water. Sita falls for his trick and she is kidnapped. On the way to Alengka Palace Rhawana is attacked by his mortal enemy and Rama learns of what has happened to his wife.
Act 3: Searching for Sita, Rama meets Sugriwa, the Red Monkey King. He agrees to help Rama find his wife. As they set out together for Alengka Palace, Hanoman, a white monkey with magical powers agrees to join in the search. Rama provides Hanoman with a ring to give Sita as proof Rama has entrusted him.
Act 4: Hanoman finds Algengka Palace just as Sita is about to take her own life in despair. He gives her the ring and speaks of Rama’s impeding rescue attempt. Hanoman attempts to destroy the palace and fails. He is caught by giants who try to burn him to death. He escapes causing much mayhem throughout the city.
Act 5: Rama reaches Algengka Palace as the monkey army defeats the giants. He battles and defeats Sita’s kidnapper, Rhawana. At last, Sita and Rama are reunited.
Warung Be Ja Na
After the show, we walked to a nearby recommendation for dinner by our taxi driver, Be Ja Na, Warung Balinese Rijsttafel. Seated on the floor of an open air, elevated pavilion, we were surrounded by the glow of candle lights and smell of a crackling wood fire as we enjoyed a delicious traditional Balinese meal.
The Uluwatu Temple and Kacek Ramayan and Fire Dance is a highly recommended experience. We found many tours with itineraries including Uluwatu temple, the Kacek and Fire dance, and a barbecue dinner, but we easily arranged the excursion independently.