Brahmavihara-Arama Buddhist Monastery in Bali

Indonesia     Destinations
Mini Borobudur replica with one large meditation / offering / teaching room inside. Borobudur is the largest Buddhist temple in the world (!) and resides on the neighboring island of Java.
Mini Borobudur replica with one large meditation / offering / teaching room inside. Borobudur is the largest Buddhist temple in the world (!) and resides on the neighboring island of Java.
Not too far up into the hills in North Bali near Lovina, is a serene Buddhist monastery complete with mini replica of Borobudur. An hour wandering around Vihara Buddha Banjar is just plain good for the soul.
Brahmavihara-Arama (also known as Vihara Buddha Banjar) makes for a very nice visit in North Bali. It's supposedly a monastery, but in the times I've been there I have not seen a monk one; just a few staff. Regardless, it's a wonderful peaceful place in the hills and is worth a visit if you're in the area.

Wandering around the grounds with I swear the prettiest sounding wind chimes I have ever heard, there are a handful of buildings to visit, some nice photo opportunities, views to the sea, and the option of using the mediation spots.

The entry ticket is Rp 20,000. It says "donation" right on the ticket but that doesn't mean you have a choice in the donation amount. Motorbike parking is directly next to the ticket building and car parking is across the road. Typical prices (I mean donation) are Rp 2,000 for motorbike, 5,000 for a car.
The entry is only Rp 20,000 ($1.40). If you don't have a sarong, you can borrow one from the ticket office. That goes for guys too.
The entry is only Rp 20,000 ($1.40). If you don't have a sarong, you can borrow one from the ticket office. That goes for guys too.

When to Go

Open from 8am to 6pm, the big tour bus rolls up at 10am, quickly followed by many vans with small private tours. You want about an hour for your visit so time it accordingly. Before 10am the place is almost completely empty. One day when I arrived at 9am, I was the first visitor of the day.

What to Bring

You must wear a sarong and a shirt with sleeves, even the men. There are plenty of sarongs for use at the ticket office. You must take your shoes off to enter every building so wear something that you can easily slip on and off. It also gets very hot, so bring a bottle of water. There are a few small shops outside the monastery for water and snacks.

Getting There

Consult a map as to the best route depending on where you are coming from. It's not far off the Singaraja-Seririt road. From Banajar, head inland at the traffic light, then take the first left after the Y in the road and mild ess turn. Then go up the hill and turn right at the T in the road.

It's only about 10k from Lovina and would be easy to combine with a trip to Air Banas Banjar (hot springs) which is only 1.5k from away.
Such a pretty drive barely up into the hills. That's the pagoda that's inside Vihara.
Such a pretty drive barely up into the hills. That's the pagoda that's inside Vihara.

A Bit About Vihara

Originally opened in 1970, many of the original structures are still enact despite receiving substantial damage from an earthquake in 1976. Arama means to search and the Brahma-Viharas are the four Sublime States in Buddhism. Loving-Kindness, Compassion, Sympathetic Joy and Equanimity.

Many people come with a tour and a guide. There are a few signs (in both Indonesian and English) for those budget travelers who self-tour.

The gardens and statues are meticulously kept. Everything seems in perfect condition with flawless paint. Incense is provided in various rooms to make your offering, but please leave a small donation if you use them (there are donation boxes around).

There are wind chimes and soft music and birds chirping and the smell of incense in the air. Visitors are welcome to mediate and I recommend it if you are so inclined. If you're worried about wondering what areas you can meditate in (like I was before I went), don't worry about that. There are meditation pillows stacked in the corners of the buildings cluing you in. ;) I'm sure you can actually meditate anywhere you want. And as I said, it's not like there seem to be resident monks that you might interrupt.

The Grounds

Upon entering you are greeted with a big lotus pond with tall Buddha statue and Buddha's footprints. There are many guardian Hindu statues throughout the property giving it a very unique feel.
As soon as you enter, it's just gorgeous. Lotus pond with Buddha's footprints and a lot of Hindu style statues making it an interesting combination of cultures.
As soon as you enter, it's just gorgeous. Lotus pond with Buddha's footprints and a lot of Hindu style statues making it an interesting combination of cultures.
The smell of incense, soft music, and soul-reaching wind chimes ... ahhhhh.
The smell of incense, soft music, and soul-reaching wind chimes ... ahhhhh.
If you start at the left, (clockwise is good luck you know), you will first visit the Dharamsala II. A modest mediation room with a reclining Buddha and a sense of peace and pureness that is almost overwhelming. Maybe that was was just because I've had a rough month, but it hit my inner being like a mack truck, in a good way.

Then You can walk around to the right of the building (past a tiny old woman yelling at a stray dog), and up the long flight of stairs through the candi bentar entry gate. There is a great view up there and if there are many people, you might have to wait your turn to have someone take your photo in the gate.
Views out to the North shore of Bali.
Views out to the North shore of Bali.
The entry gate that on this side opens up to the upper garden and on the other side, is at the top of a long set of stairs.
The entry gate that on this side opens up to the upper garden and on the other side, is at the top of a long set of stairs.
The "big" attraction up at the top of the property is the mini version of Borobudur (the world's largest Buddhist temple which happens to be in neighboring Java) that was built in 1999 as a tribute to the founder of Brahamvihara-Arama. The very Borobudur-recognizable stupas are surrounded by a lotus pond and flanked by gold Buddhas. The interior is one large room with a center area with Buddha statues.
Look at the heart-shaped leaf down below! :)
Look at the heart-shaped leaf down below! :) <3
I've been to Borobudur (18 years ago!) and this is easily recognizable as a replica.
I've been to Borobudur (18 years ago!) and this is easily recognizable as a replica.
Shoes off, shoes on, shoes off again. Wear flip flops.

Leaving the top garden area and heading toward the other buildings, there's a large white Buddha statue sitting in front of a Bodhi tree (the type of tree where Buddha sat until he found enlightenment, and is held in regard throughout SE Asia) with relief mural behind it depicting his journey to toward Nirvana.
Travelling alone, I don't have many photos of myself! Especially in this place with so few visitors, it took a while for someone to come along to take a photo for me.
Travelling alone, I don't have many photos of myself! Especially in this place with so few visitors, it took a while for someone to come along to take a photo for me.
Namaste
Namaste
Next to that is the main Dharamsala meditation room built in 1969 that has gorgeous carved wooden doors and colorful relief murals inside representing the birth of a little gold glowing Prince Siddartha. This room has a lovely cool breeze and is a nice place to grab a few cushions and enjoy a little mediation while you're there. I highly recommend it in this very spiritual setting.
Inside the main meditation room is cool and breezy and has bright relief murals of Prince Siddhartha. It's the most wonderful place to sit and meditate.
Inside the main meditation room is cool and breezy and has bright relief murals of Prince Siddhartha. It's the most wonderful place to sit and meditate.
Stairs up to the main Dharamsala (mediation room). The stairs each have a Buddhist quality or precept written on them.
Stairs up to the main Dharamsala (mediation room). The stairs each have a Buddhist quality or precept written on them.
In 1982 the Tibetan/Balinese stupa was built with guidance from the Dalai Lama after the original stupa collapsed from the earthquake only one week after being inaugurated!

The latest major addition (also a rebuild of the original structure that was destroyed in the '76 earthquake) is the 2014 Tibetan/Chinese Avalokiteshvara Pagoda, representing love of all mankind. The building sits on a pink lotus flower base. It's all so picturesque and calming.
A stupa with personal items from the Dalai Lama. You can see the Tibetan style in the eyes on the stupa.
A stupa with personal items from the Dalai Lama. You can see the Tibetan style in the eyes on the stupa.
This pagoda, sitting on a giant lotus flower, represents complete love for all mankind.
This pagoda, sitting on a giant lotus flower, represents complete love for all mankind.
I just love the giant lotus petals.
I just love the giant lotus petals.
From there you will walk down the steps lined with guardian statues and each step containing a Buddhist virtue for the path of enlightenment.

One last "om shanti om" and we say our goodbye to this little gem.
And the views!
And the views!

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