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.
When to GoOpen 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 BringYou 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 ThereConsult 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.
A Bit About ViharaOriginally 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 GroundsUpon 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.
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.
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.
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.
One last "om shanti om" and we say our goodbye to this little gem.