Bali, the island of the Gods, is at the center of the Indonesian Archipelago. Tourism forms a huge part of the economy here in Bali and has created developments that have brought urbanizations to many areas of Bali such as Sanur, Kuta, Seminyak, Ubud. It lies across the ancient trade routes between Europe, the Middle East, India, and China, and has absorbed influences from all these civilizations.
Most of Balinese are Hindu, and with elements from Buddhism and Animism, coupled with the Shiva-ite cult; Bali’s religion is a pretty flamboyant show that continues to intrigue. In today’s post, instead of covering the usual diving side of things, we are going to take a look at the interesting sights on land.
Pura Agung Besakih
Travel up east, situated on Mount Agung, is the Mother Temple of Bali. Everyone has heard of Mount Batur and trekking up Mount Batur to watch the sunrise is a most common thing to do. As it’s situated further away from the urbanized parts of Bali, Mount Agung sees more of locals and well-seasoned trekkers who prefer a more challenging and quieter route.
Agung is a magnificent height of 3142 meters and at the same time, an active volcano. She is a significant place in the life of every Balinese. Every local community orientates houses, temples, and rooms, in the direction of Mount Agung, as they believe that the spirits of their ancestors dwell there.
At the height of 1000 meters or so lies Pura Agung Besakih, which is also hailed as the Mother Temple of Bali, covering a complex of 22 temples over an area of 3-kilometer square. She escaped the 1963 volcano eruption, but two of her temples were destroyed in 1963. Since the 20th century, she has undergone several major renovations and restoration.
The sheer majesty of the place would blow one away. The steep climb up to each one of the temples, for urban-dwellers like us, it is a lot of efforts. And it makes one wonder how much efforts one could to go the distance for one’s faith. You see, everyone has their own faith. It does not have to a religion per se, but just something that you truly believe in and willing to forsake even your life for it. Whilst listening to the guide on how locals come to this temple, no matter how far they are, I cannot help but wonder, at what length would I be willing to go to for my “faith”?
Note: For all divers, please note that you will need at least 16 hours of surface interval before going up at altitude!
Pura Tanah Lot
Temples, temples, temples. This is one temple that you have to visit, besides Besakih. Tanah Lot is nothing short of magnificent. Yes, it is a well-marketed sight in Bali but it is worth every single second of traveling to reach here. This place is reminiscent of the Twelve Apostles in Australia. The most time-saving travel is to arrange the transfer here at the end of your diving trip. On the way back to the airport, make a stop here before traveling to the airport.
As the name suggests, the temple is situated at the meeting point of land (Tanah) and sea (Lot). There are several temples along the stretch of the sea. The main temple is dedicated to the Goddess of the Sea, Betara Tengah Segara. The temple is actually a rock formation that has been shaped by natural forces over the years. To protect the temple, the cliffs had been reinforced with concrete and the tripods sunk into the sea as breakwaters.
The elements of nature at work here would amaze you.
Pura Luhur Uluwatu
Uluwatu Temple is yet another must-visit landmark in my opinion. Ulu, means ‘lands end’, and watu, means “‘rock’. Uluwatu, rocks at where lands end. Built in the 11th century, it is a classic representation of Balinese architecture. Until the beginning of 20th Century, only princes of Denpasar were allowed to worship here. Perched on the cliff overlooking the ocean with breaking surf of Uluwatu Beach, come here for the dramatic sunset view. There is no need for knowledge about her history and the architecture, the views would take your breath away.
There are endless temples in Bali and visiting most of the famous ones would take days to finish. After these three temples, others would pale in comparison. Making use of elements of nature, these architectural monuments definitely stood the test of time and will continue to impress and awe for many more centuries to come.
The Chinese philosopher, Lin Yutang, puts it the best, “Architecture at its best is when one is amidst it, but forgetting that we are in a place where nature ends and art begins.”
Let your visit to Bali not be just about the underwater adventure, but also a journey into Bali’s glorious and mystical past.