Kehen Temple, one of a few largest temples in Bali, is located at the south of Bangli in Cempaga village, about 43 km from Denpasar. It was built in the reign of Sri Bhatara Guru Adikunti Ketana in the 11th century in a terraced mountain sanctuary that was the site of an earlier temple that dates back to the 9th century. The word Kehen is derived from the word “Keren” means flame.
Formerly, it was known as “Hyang Api” (God of Fire) temple. The people of Bangli believe that Kehen Temple is the largest and the most sacred temple of the region and regard it as the state temple of Bangli.The anniversary (odalan) of this temple takes place every 210 days on Wednesday Kliwon Shinta (based of traditional pawukon calendar). Once in a three years period a Ngusaba ritual is held in this temple, which takes place on full moon (Purnama) of the fifth month of Balinese Caka calendar, around November.
This sacred temple is built majestically on terraces on the southern slope of the hill under a big old banyan tree that shades the shrines and gates of its courtyards. The forest background of this temple offers a unique ambiance and mesmerizing scene.A flight of 38 stairs will great and lead the visitor to meru-shaped gate between rows of villager statues carved in a shadow puppet style, gesturing a welcome to visitors.
Overlooking the gate is the threatening head of Kala, the child Siwa, personification of evil that is entrusted to guard the temple and to catch harmful spirits and prevents them from entering the sacred space.The Kehen Temple has an authentic Balinese temple structure. It has three terraced courtyards that are connected by steps, and their balustrades are decorated with carvings and statues, and each are entered through towering, carved gateways.
In the first courtyard is a huge Banyan tree with kul-kul – a hollowed-out tree-trunk drum split gong suspended high up in this ancient and sacred tree.kul-kul is used to summon the faithful to prayer, and to announce special occasions. Walls inlaid with Chinese porcelain surround this banyan tree.
In the next courtyard, there is a magnificent shrine with eleven tiered roofs (merus) dedicated to the god of fire; the resident temple god. On the right side of this inner courtyard are three throne shrines representing the Hindu Trinity, Brahma, Wisnu and Siwa.Besides its mesmerizing panorama and majestic temple structure, Kehen Temple has a variety of ancient manuscripts. There is a bronze manuscript about the slaughter of a black bull during a feast held in the temple in the year 1204.