On a small island along the western shore of Lake Bratan, in the cool highlands of central Bali, the 17th-century Pura Ulun Danu Bratan is one of Bali’s most picturesque temple complexes. Set against the imposing backdrop of Gunung Bratan, the thatched temples reflect on the lake, and when the water levels rise, they seem to float on its surface. Lake Bratan is one of Bali’s main sources of irrigation and drinking water, and the temple complex is dedicated to Dewi Danu, goddess of the sea and lakes.
An unusual feature is the Buddhist stupa on the left of the entrance to the first courtyard, with figures of Buddha meditating in the lotus position in niches on the square base. The stupa reflects the adoption of Buddhist beliefs by Balinese Hindus. This sacred Hindu temple complex is best seen in the soft morning light, before the tourist buses arrive, when cool mist sometimes cloaks the lake and the mountains beyond. You can also hire a canoe and paddle out on the lake to explore the meru (thatched shrines) at close range.
Not far from the temple complex, the Bali Botanic Garden (Kebun Raya Bali) is also worth a visit, with its beautiful bamboo forests, begonias, orchid collection, and medicinal plants. Within its grounds, the Bali Treetop Adventure Park is fun for kids, with zip-lines, Tarzan swings, and suspension bridges.