The Balinese have been visiting the holy hot springs of Pura Tirta Empul for more than a thousand years, drawn to the strong curative properties of the clear water that flows from the mountains. Myths suggest the springs were created by Indra, the ruler of the heavens and god of rainfall. Mountainous jungle makes an atmospheric backdrop for the ornate, lichen-covered temples set amidst flourishing gardens. Here, Balinese pilgrims dressed in ceremonial attire make offerings and pray at the shrines before bathing in the stone pool, fed by 12 sculpted fountains. Ritual purification ceremonies reach fever pitch at full moon each month. Visitors can take a dip in the public baths but need to dress respectfully in sarong and sash, with shoulders covered.
Tampaksiring is in Gianyar, about half an hour northeast of Ubud. This region is also home to the evocative 11th century rock-cut temples of Gunung Kawi that spread across the Pakerisan River.