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The viral picture of an underwater temple in Bali is not 5000 years old

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An image of underwater sculptures has been viral on social media with the claim that these sculptures are around 5,000 years old. The sculptures are Hindu idols that have been recently found in the sea off in the city of Indonesia’s Bali. The post has been shared by various users with a similar claim. The misleading caption along with the collage says, ” 5000 old Shri Vishnu found in Bali sea, Indonesia. Now Mahabharata as per @NileshOak Ji is 5500BC approx. So which Rajya of Bharat was Indonesia & did it participate in Mahabharata? Sanatan was always present in South Asia till Akhand Bharat boundaries @SatyaSanatanInd”.
The viral picture is a collage of 3 underwater sculptures with a misleading claim and is circulated on various social media platforms.




A few more posts that have been shared with the similar claim can be seen on Facebook


video was earlier posted on Youtube with a similar claim in 2016. The description of the video reads- 5000-year-old underwater Hindu temple in BALI Indonesia ऊँ. The video was posted by a Youtube user on 22nd April 2016 with more than 20,000 views. 


The sculptures in the image are not 5000 years old but were created by scuba divers in Northern Bali in 2005 at Pemuteran in Northern Bali. 

While searching about the viral image, we did a Google reverse image search and found various videos and reports that the underwater sculptures were created by Scuba divers in Bali back in 2005. We found one report by Ithaka Travel Blog under the headline- The Ultimate List of Iconic Temples in Bali you must visit. 


We found another report by NYKDaily with the title- Underwater Hindu Temple Found in Bali! According to this article, this Building & Architecture Technology of ‘Sanatan Dharma’ was converted into a Temple Garden in 2005 for promoting tourism in Indonesia.

Another report by India Times with the title- Under Water Temple In Bali. The website has posted all the pictures that the temple originally has witnessed since 2005. The article is dated 28 April 2016.

With the help of google reverse image search, we also found a YouTube page that had uploaded about the history of the underwater temple. The video was posted by a page- Bali Bersejarah. The description of the channel reads-

Mari mengenal Bali melalui sejarah dan isi budaya yang ada di bali, lestarikan alamnya, lestarikan budayanya, dan jaga tradisinya !!

Translation- Let’s get to know Bali through the history and content of the culture in Bali, preserve nature, preserve the culture, and keep the tradition!!

The description of the video reads- Candi buatan bawah laut tersebut berada di daerah Pemuteran, Singaraja, Bali. Merebaknya informasi keberadaan ‘candi kuno’ itu sempat membuah heboh. Sebab, foto-foto benda mirip peninggalan arkelogis itu mendadak muncul di dunia maya dan menjadi perbincangan berbagai pihak, tak terkecuali pejabat di Kementerian Budaya dan Pariwisata.

Translation- The underwater artificial temple is located in the Pemuteran area, Singaraja, Bali. The spread of information about the existence of the ‘ancient temple’ caused a stir. Because, photos of objects similar to archaeological remains suddenly appeared in cyberspace and became the talk of various parties, including officials at the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.


We also found another YouTube video by Paul Turley who is an Indonesia-based diver, he posted the video on 12th March 2012 with the description- Again the underwater ‘Temple Garden’ just off ‘Temple Wall’ dive site in Pemuteran. Part of the ‘Reef Gardeners’ is a social/environmental project created in 2005. 

We found another video by Sea Rovers which is a group of underwater divers from Northwest Bali. They operate on their own and have private boats direct from the beach.

A report by Reef Gardeners of the Pemuteran website states that the temple was built from the inspiration of nine deities of Bali. The sculptures include Lord Shiva. The statue of Lord Shiva is allocated in the middle of the eight other idols. According to this article, the temple was constructed underwater about 400m off the beach in front of Reef Seen between 23-27 May 2014. 



Another report by BBC Indonesia reported about a similar temple in 2010. The title of the news report reads- Candi bawah laut’ ternyata taman buatan which when translated into English reads- The underwater temple’ turns out to be an artificial garden. According to this news report, Taman Pura is part of a coral reef conservation project called Karang Lestari which was started in June 2000 in the Pemuteran area by submerging various types of objects into the sea. The project involves hotel owners, fishermen, dive companies, scientists, and environmental conservationists to protect and rehabilitate coral reefs and increase fish food supplies. The purpose of this project, apart from conserving coral reefs, is also to improve the fishermen’s economy and become an object of tourism. In 2005, the people involved in this project started to make Taman Pura by submerging art objects such as statues and gates purchased from local craftsmen.



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Shriya Handoo

MA- Journalism student at Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communications.