Bali indeed deserves the nickname “The Island of A Thousand Temples” because almost every village in the island has own temple complex with traditional architecture, and some of them have a unique multi-tiered roof “called Meru”.
Some the great temple complex with a multi-tiered roof are Besakih Temple, Taman Ayun Temple, and Ulun Danu Beratan Temple which all always becomes a favourite place to visit by the visitors during vacation in Bali.
Uniqueness of the meru roof occasionally makes us wonder about existence and meaning of it. The following are 4 Interesting Facts about Balinese Meru Roof.
Found by Mpu Kuturan (A Priest from Java)
Concept of temple with meru roof was found by Mpu Kuturan, a priest who came from Java Island in the 11th century. He was an influential figure for civilization of Bali Island, including for introduced concept of Meru Roof.
The visit of Mpu Kuturan to Bali brought an improvement to some temples building in Bali, as one is Besakih Temple. Besides that, he also built Silayukti Temple, East Bali.
Meaning of Universe Layers
Existence of Meru Roof doesn’t only embellish a temple building but contains a deep meaning.
On Lontar Andha Bhuana, Meru roof come from word “Me” that means Mother (Pradana Tattwa) and “Ru” that means Father “Purusa Tattwa”. The amalgamation of both words “Meru” means Batur Kelawasan Petak (forerunner of the ancestors).
Symbolize of Meru Levels
Based on number of level, Meru Roof can divided into several levels, which it symbolizes layers of Bhuana Agung (Universe) and each of them has Aksara (holy script), as below.
- Meru roof with 1 levels has Aksara “Om or Omkara” as a symbol of Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa (God).
- Meru roof with 2 levels has Aksara “I, Ya” as a symbol of Purusa Pradhana.
- Meru roof with 3 levels has Aksara “I, Omkara, and Ya” as a symbol of Tri Purusa (Parama Siwa, Sada Siwa, and Siwa.
- Meru roof with 5 levels has Aksara “Sa, Ba, Ta, A, and Omkara” as a symbol of Panca Dewata.
- Meru roof with 7 levels has Aksara “Sa, Ba, Ta, A, I, Omkara, and Ya” as a symbol of Sapta Dewata.
- Meru roof with 9 levels has Aksara “Sa, Ba, Ta, A, Na, Ma, Si, Wa, and Omkara” as a symbol of Dewata Sanga.
- Meru roof with 11 levels has Aksara “Sa, Ba, Ta, A, I, Na, Ma, Si, Wa, Ya, and Omkara” as a symbol of Eka Dasa Dewata.
Distinctive Characteristic of Balinese Architecture
Meru roof is a distinctive characteristic of Balinese Architecture and its existence can’t be only found on Temple Building but also on Bade (Balinese tower for cremation ceremony).
Some people take advantage of Meru Roof for unique silhouette photography, particularly at Ulun Danu Beratan Temple, Tanah Lot Temple, and Uluwatu Temple.