Bahal temple is located in a the village of Bahal,
sub-district of Padang Bolak, South Tapanuli district, North
Sumatera. It takes about three hours driving from
Padangsidempuan. The complex of this Temple (locally called
biaro) is the largest one among those in the Province of North
Sumatera. It covers the complex of Bahal I, Bahal II and Bahal
Bahal temple is one of the temples in
Padanglawas. There are many others surround Padanglawas,
namely Pulo, Barumun, Singkilon, Sipamutung, Aloban, Rondaman
Dolok, Bara, Magaledang, Sitopayan, and Nagasaribu temples.
The fields and villages close to temples might be a very wide
plain. Among all of the temples in Padanglawas, only Bahal
temple that has been completely renovated. Sipamutung and Pulo
temples are being renovated, while the rests are in ruined
There is no clear description whether Bahal temple belongs
to Hindu or Budhha. Observing its roof, Bahal I temple with
its roof style resembling of Mahligai at Muara Takus (Riau),
can be classified into Buddhist temple. On the other hand,
from the point of the statues discovered at the site, such as
the head of makara, the statues of Ganesha, demon, etc, this
Temple reasonably classified into Hindu or Tantrayanist of
Buddhist. There is no definitive idea about the function of
Bahal Temple in the past, although the local people call it
“biaro” referring to a monastery.
The complex of Bahal Temple consists of three Temples,
where each stands 500 meter away from the others. Several
kilometers from this complex, there are several temples like
Pulo, Barumun temples under renovation works.
Bahal temples is also called as Portibi temple, accordingly
to the name of the area where the temple is situated. There
are several similarities among Bahal I, Bahal II and Bahal III
temple. The whole building of these temples are constructed
from red bricks, except the statues that are carved from the
hard rocks. Each of them is surrounded by the hedge of 1 meter
in height constructed from the red bricks. In the east side,
there is a gate sticking out and both left and right sides
flanked by the walls of 60 cm thick. At every complex there is
the main building located in the center of the yard with the
Bahal I Temple
It is easy to find the location of Bahal I temple as can
been seen from the road where the cars are passing by. A
gateway has been built with a security station nearby.
There is a museum in front of the security station. There
are parts of Bahal temple that have not been posited in their
original positions, including some broken and complete
Bahal I temple was built at the ground of about 3000 m
square surrounded by the hedges of red bricks of 60 cm height.
The wall of the hedges is quite thick, about 1 meter, hence,
people can walk on it heading around the temple. At the middle
of east side, the wall of the yard gets wider, constructing
the ground sticking out about 7 meters toward out of the
Temple’s yard. This ground is flanked by the walls of 70 cm
height on the right and left sides going toward the stairs at
the edges of right and left sides of the gate.
The main building of Bahal I temple is located in the
center of the ground, facing the gate. There is a squared
foundation or stage of 7 x 7 m square developed between the
main building and the gate. The stairs stepping unto the stage
from the east side constructed of red bricks are facing the
stairs stepping up the main building and the downward stairs
on the west side from the gate.
At the southern part of the yard, standing in the line with
the base ground, there are two foundations of 3 m square and
2.3 m square side one to another. No further information is
available pointing out whether any building has been once
built on them or not. Neither is any information about their
The main building, Bahal I temple, is the biggest one among
of the three temples. This main building comprises tatakan,
foot, body and the roof of the temple in orderly arrangement.
The tatakan of the temple has squared ground plan of 7 m
square in width and 180 cm in height.
On this tatakan stands the foot of the temple of 75 cm in
height, with squared ground plan of 6 m square. The difference
measure of both forms the open veranda going around the foot
of the temple. In the middle of east side, precisely in front
of the stepping stairs unto the surface of the Temple’s foot,
the tatakan sticks out for four meters with 2 meter in width.
There are stairs at the end of the ‘jalan’/path flanked by a
pair of makara’ heads at their ground.
Makara is the animal found in the myth taking halves shape
of fish and crocodile. The mouth of the makara, carved on the
rock, is widely opened. There are animals similar to
kinara-kinari in this opened mouth, the birds with the heads
of human as found in the temples of Shiva in Java.
Although all are carved on the rocks, the
statue of makara flanking the stairs generally have different
style of motives comparing to those in Java. The back side of
the makaras’ heads are decorated with the orderly arranged
circle sculptures, that never been found in any makara in the
Temples in Java.
A long the north and south sides of the path wall heading
to the tatakan, there are some sculptures of human in various
positions. Though many parts of the sculptures are damaged,
the figures of human clearly seem in the dancing position. A
long the east side or in front of the tatakan there is demon
sculpture of sitting position.
There is no carving at the north wall and
south foot of the temple, while the west wall (the back side)
has more polished sculptures but the forms are faded.
The body of the temple comprises square building on the
longitudinal base of 5 m square. The difference measures
between the body and the foot of the temple forms the open
veranda of 1 meter in width. To get to the entrance gate into
the body of the temple, stairs of 60 cm are constructed above
the foot of the temple. There is an empty room in the body of
the temple of 3 m square surrounded by the wall of 1 meter in
thickness. The width of the entrance gate is 120 x 250 cm.
There is no sculpture decorating the frame of the gate.
The roof style of Bahal I temple is very unique, neither
like pyramid as the roofs of the temples in East Java, nor
similar to stupa style like the roof of Muara Takus temple.
Its roof style is cylinder shaped with the height of 2.5
meters, like a cake put on square tatakan. There is also the
sculptures of garland surrounding the edges of the roof.
At the north corner of the back side of the main building
yard, base foundation of about 2.5 m square is constructed
with the ruins on it. There is no figure describing the real
style and function of these ruins.
Bahal II Temple
Bahal II temple is situated about 100 m from the road and
about 300 m from Bahal I temple. The wide of the yard is same
as of Bahal I temple and is also surrounded by the hedges of
red bricks, while the main building is smaller than that of
Bahal I temple.
As seen in Bahal I temple, at the middle of east side, the
wall gets wider, forming the sticking out ground of 4 meters
toward out of the Temple’s yard. The walls of 70 cm height
flank the right and left sides of the ground going to the foot
of the stairs in the east side (outside).
The main building of Bahal II temple consists of tatakan,
the body and the roof. The tatakan has the longitudinal base
of 6 m square in width and 1 m in height. The foot of the
temple of 75 cm height is standing on this tatakan, with the
longitudinal ground plan of 5 m square in width. The
difference measures between tatakan and the foot of the temple
forms the open veranda surrounding the foot of the temple.
The body of the building is standing on longitudinal ground
plan foot of 4 m square in width, by which there is also the
open veranda of 1 meter in width on the foot of the temple.
There is an empty room of 3 m square in the body of Bahal
II temple surrounded by 1 meter of thick walls. The entrance
gate is 120 x 1250 cm facing east without any sculpture at its
The wall of tatakan, the foot and the body of the temple
are plain without any sculpture. The roof is pyramid style
with the squared top. There are the ranges of holes around the
top part but their functions are unknown.
At the front foot of the main building’s stairs, a pair of
makaras are carved with widely opened mouth. There are
creatures of unclear forms inside the open mouth. Although
these makaras are also carved on the rocks, but the style of
these makaras are different from those of Bahal I temple.
There is a longitudinal foundation or stage of 5 m square
situated between the main building and the entrance gate. The
stairs stepping unto the stage made of red bricks are at the
north and south sides.
There is ruined building at the northern part of the back
yard of the main building. At the east side of the foundation
lying another foundation with the stairs on it for stepping up
from the north and south sides. There is a statue of makara’s
head in front of each foot of the stairs opposing the stairs.
There are several pieces of statues spreading near by the base
Bahal III Temple
Bahal III temple is about 100 m from the road. However, to
reach this site, one should go along the path, pass by the
dikes, and then walk through the local residence. There are a
lot of similarities of Bahal III to Bahal II and Bahal I
temples. The ground yard of the temple of the same width is
also surrounded by the hedges of red bricks with same height
and thickness. The entrance gate is also at the east side. The
main building is also at the center of the ground yard. Its
gate is much more similar to that of Bahal I temple since the
stairs stepping unto the entrance gate are constructed at the
north and south sides. The stairs of Bahal II temple are at
the east side.
There is also foundation situated between the main building
and the gate, as well as the longitudinal stage of 5 m square.
The red brick stairs stepping unto the stage are located at
the north and south sides.
The measure and the style of the main building of this
temple are mostly similar to that of the main building of
Bahal II temple. The entrance gate to the main building is
also situated at the east side.
There is no sculpture at the frame of the gate, but the walls of
tatakan are decorated with sculptures of flower alike style. There is no
sculpture on the four sides of the main building’s walls. Its roof is pyramid
style with squared top. This style is similar to that of Bahal II temple, but
there is no range of holes on it.There is no sculpture of makara’s head at the
foot of the stairs stepping unto the open veranda, but there are some carvings
on the sides of the stairs at the foot of the temple.
There are two pieces of statues at the northern part of the main building. One
piece is likely the carving statue decorated by the lotus calyx surrounding it,
similar to those found in Jago and Singasari temples in East Java. The rest
piece seems to be the feet of a statue in standing position, as the lower part
looks like feet with their complete fingers.
Bahal museum is located in front of the security station of
Bahal I temple. The style of the museum is like the common
building. There are various parts of stuffs of Bahal temple
that their positions have not been recognized yet. Due to this
and other reasons, they have not been removed to there earlier
There is also the activity of reconstructing the pieces of
the materials, rocks and red bricks, finding out their
original styles, constructions and positions. The pieces of
the rocks found at the three sites are generally the parts of
any statues or decorative sculptures, and are not apart of the
ruins of the buildings that are mostly made of red bricks.
Among of the pieces of the stuffs in that museum taken into
the reconstruction is the pieces of a demonic statue in
standing position carrying gada (cudgel). There is also a heap
of red bricks with whole on them, likely the foot print of the
animal. The heap of these red bricks were discovered in 2000
at the ground yard of Bahal I temple. The are many things can
be looked around in this museum.
Unfortunately, this museum is not opened in a routine schedule
for public. There is not always a staff working at this
museum. Not much information one can get from the security