Bali is known to be one of the safest and most welcoming tourist destinations in the world. Visitors from all over the globe visit the island to connect with nature and the deeply spiritual culture that still thrives today.
One of the most famous temples on the island is the Tirta Empul Temple in Tampaksiring just outside of Ubud. The temple was made famous by the movie Eat, Pray, Love but this week has hit headlines for a very different reason.
The Tirta Empul Temple in Tampaksiring is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Bali. Every single day hundreds, sometimes thousands of people, visit the temple to take part in a melukat ceremony.
The melukat ceremony is a traditional Balinese water purification blessing that takes part in the holy spring waters of the temple complex.
Tirta Empul has become a very popular tourist destination but at its heart, it remains a site of deep spiritual significance to Balinese Hindus.
@ashleebanxxs Tirta Empul is a temple considered sacred by Balinese Hindu community. #traveltiktok #FastTwitchContest #travel ♬ original sound – Ashlee Banxxs
As has been reported by NusaBali. Tirta Empul is now under investigation by Gianyar Police following a viral video posted by a local woman that suggests that officers at the temple have been spying on visitors in the changing rooms.
To take part in the water blessing ceremony worshippers, both Hindus and visitors, must change into a sarong and sash. Therefore, there is a dedicated area of the temple complex where changing rooms are available for visitors.
@gamieisonholiday Tirta Empul Temple, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia 🍃 what a peaceful and serene visit … This temple is one of my most favorite temples in Bali 💗 At the end of the visit, you will be guided to walk through many local shops that sells arts, crafts, lots of clothes and fruits. I had an experience of trying “Durian” at this temple! •••• #bali #balibucketlist #balitemple #tirtaempul #tiktoktravel #tiktokพาเที่ยว #บาหลี ♬ Chill Vibes – Tollan Kim
According to local reports, ‘unscrupulous guides’ at the temple have been ‘peeking’ at visitors in the changing rooms. In the original video post on Instagram local resident with the account name @Nindameilinda shared her experience of being spied on while getting changed in the locker rooms.
A translation of the caption reads “Guys, if you are changing clothes after being injured, especially girls, please look around before changing clothes. Maybe there is a sacred area but not everyone there has a clean brain.”
“I’m really disappointed to know that someone would take a cruel opportunity like this in a sacred place that is even used to purify themselves.”
@shonjishoni Tirta Empul Bali #tirtaempultemple #tampaksiring #gianyarbali ♬ See You Again (Epic Orchestral Version) – Cover – Samuel Kim
She added, “The intention was to hurt me but my mind was shattered and I was shaking and crying.” She immediately reported the man in question to the temple management team.
She added, “At the scene of the crime, I was angry with this man, but he didn’t admit it. That was the position where I was squatting, covering my body while crying inconsolably.”
“The officer said his guide was not from the residents there. The [predatory man] was at the back, so his face here couldn’t be seen clearly.”
Following up on the viral video, the Head of the Gianyar Regency Tourism Office, I Wayan Gede Sedana Putra, said that he could not yet confirm the truth of the reports but that he and his teams, along with the Tampaksiring Police are investigating the matter.
Putra told reporters, “We don’t want to suspect sexual harassment by filming people changing clothes. We’re waiting for the results of the police investigation. We don’t want to issue any presumptive statements. Whether there really was a recording or not is still being checked first.”
He confirmed that he and his teams have been to Tirta Empul Temple to check CCTV footage of the area.
Putra said, “We took action yesterday with the Gianyar Police and the Tampaksiring Police. CCTV has been checked. If there is a violation of public order, if we record a peek without permission, that will be a process for the police.”
He concluded, “We did not inspect the tour agent’s office because it is more effective [to view CCTV]. So as not to disturb the comfort of tourists if it is done on the spot at a tourist attraction. At the tour agent, we check how many guides there are, how many are licensed, how many are not.”
Speaking later, the Tampaksiring Police Chief AKP Gede Endrawan, asked that the public be patient as the investigation is underway.