As Taman Ayun Temple in Mengwi has been recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site, Badung administration plans to redesign and beautify the areas outside the temple.
Regent Anak Agung Gde Agung told Bali Daily last weekend that the administration had allocated Rp 11 billion (US$1.15 million) from its 2013 regional budget to carry out the project.
“The project is aimed at giving a facelift to the temple’s surrounding areas, to make them more attractive to visitors and, of course, to worshippers,” Gde Agung said.
The project will include the construction of pedestrian sidewalks in front of the temple. All vehicles will be banned from passing the street where the temple is located. Consequently, the administration will develop a new alternative road connecting Mengwi in Badung, to Denpasar and to Tabanan regency.
The administration will also construct two gelung kori (traditional Balinese arches) on the east and west side of the temple. Meanwhile, spacious parking lots will be available to the eastern and western sides of the temple courtyard.
“The project will start soon, as required by UNESCO prerequisites for a world heritage site,” the regent said.
Based on UNESCO’s consideration, heavy traffic on streets adjacent to the temple’s location may lead to physical damage of the temple. As a world heritage site, Taman Ayun Temple must be protected and conserved from any manmade or natural disaster.
To provide visitors with comprehensive information on Taman Ayun Temple and its cultural and religious significance, a new museum will be established near the site.
The redesign project will also cover a new site arrangement for food stalls, souvenir shops and other facilities run by Mengwi residents. A new art market will also be set up to encourage local artisans to promote their artistic products.
“The administration has provided a wide variety of business opportunities for the locals to sell souvenir items, food and beverages and other goods, so that they will really benefit from tourist-related activities at this UNESCO heritage site,” the regent said.
Gde Agung also stressed that subak farmers living and working nearby, in the areas surrounding the temple, would always be the administration’s top priority. He said that the Badung administration had committed to provide land and property tax subsidies to the farmers. “All of our projects are aimed at protecting the subak rice fields that surround the temple. We have been trying to preserve the moat from any pollutants because it is used to irrigate the nearby subak farms in the surrounding area,” he stated.
Located about 18 kilometers northwest of Denpasar, Taman Ayun Temple is set beautifully in gardens surrounded by a large fish pond moat so it looks as though it is adrift on the water.
Built with a multistoried roof and Balinese architecture, Taman Ayun is one of the most important architectural heritage sites on the island. The wide, beautifully landscaped garden in the front courtyard greets all visitors who come to the temple.
The name Taman Ayun literally means “garden of the mind”. It is probable that the temple was designed not only for religious purposes, but also as a work of art that could be used as a place to relax and refresh the soul of the king, as well as the worshipers and those who pay homage to their ancestors there.
Taman Ayun Temple was constructed in the 17th century during the reign of Tjokorda Bima Sakti Blambangan, a feared warlord and the founder of the mighty kingdom of Mengwi.
The garden temple was designed by Kang Choew, an architect of Chinese descent and the king’s close confidante.