Archives Didi Suprapta

Besakih, Balinese Mother Temple

At the foot of the great Gunung Agung mountain sits the most sacred of all Balinese temples; Pura Besakih. A more spectacular location for this huge temple complex would be hard to find. If you are lucky to visit on a clear day you can see Gunung Agung (3.142 m), a background that can give anyone a religious feeling. There has been a temple here for more than one thousand years, it is first mentioned in an inscription from 1007 BC.

Today’s role as the “mother temple” were achieved during the 15th century, when Bali became independent from Java and got it’s own ruler; Batu Renggong. He ordered the construction of nine temples, of which Besakih was the central one. Since then there has been continuous expansions and Besakih now consists of about 30 different smaller temples.

Tall pagodas, so-called meru. The more levels, the more sacred.The largest temple is Pura Penataran Agung, which has a large shrine in honor of the holy Hindu trinity Brahma, Wisnu and Shiva. Symbols of this trinity can be found in temples all over Bali. The most important ceremony in Besakih is called Eka Dasa Rudra, which is held once every hundred years according to the Balinese calendar, that is 115 years after our calendar. Last time, in 1963, it had to be cancelled due to a major eruption of Gunung Agung.

About 2.000 people lost their lives during this eruption, but miraculously Besakih was almost undamaged. A new ceremony were held in 1979, this time with more success.

Pura Besakih, on a clear day you can see the great Gunung Agung in the background.The site is open daily, try to visit early in the morning before the mist is too dense. The best time to visit will probably be during one of the many ceremonies, when hundreds of Hindus in lovely traditional cloths and carrying offerings meets to honor the gods. Even if the Besakih complex is huge, each single building is not so impressive on it’s own. In front of the entrance you will find the inevitable souvenir stalls, where you can by a sarong which you need to be allowed inside, or you can rent one by the entrance.

Many so-called guides will offer their service, it is perfectly ok to say no, in any case agree about the price in advance. It is no problem to explore the site on your own, but be aware that most of the temples are closed for entrance by none-Hindus.

Besakih is a good starting point for a hike to the top of Gunung Agung, you can hire a guide for the walk here. There are no high standard hotels around Besakih, but you will find some restaurants and simple accommodation.

Candidasa, a Place to Meditate

Candidasa can be a good alternative if you’re looking for a pleasant place to stay a few days while you explore East Bali. This is a tourist area about three km long, located along the main road from Semarapura (Klungkung) to Amlapura. A large part of the business is owned by people from the Bali-Aga village Tenganan not far from here. The name Candidasa is probably derived from “Cilidasa” which means “three children”.

The tourist industry here probably began with the first visitors to a Hindu religious society; Ashram Candi Dasa, who came here to meditate in the middle of the 1970’s. The society still exists today, and people still come here to pray, meditate and study the philosophy of Gandhi. It is said to be the only society of it’s kind in Indonesia.

Most of the facilities is located along the road from Semarapura to Amlapura.Like Kuta this area can offer a large number of accommodation in all price layers, but is a much more quiet place where the local people are more relaxed and pleasant. The most negative aspect is the lack of a good beach, caused by a good example of human greed and lack of respect for nature. In the 70’s this was the beach everybody should be at on Bali, and the tourist industry flourished. To speed up the development the coral reef just outside the Candidasa beach were used as material to make cement for new buildings.

This should not come as a surprise, but without the protective reef the sand was washed away. Suddenly the beautiful beach had disappeared. Some ugly T-shaped concrete barriers were built to try to rescue what was left, but even if some of the sand has come back the beach is too small. The currents caused by the large barriers makes swimming almost impossible. Fortunately this experience has been taken into account during other developments on Bali.

A freshwater lagoon full of lotus flowers beneath the temple.On top of the hill overlooking the village is an old temple, and on the opposite side of the road a large freshwater lagoon full of lotus-plants. The temple is dedicated to Shiva and Hariti (se Goa Gajah), and serves both Hindus and Buddhists. The fertility goddess Hariti was always surrounded by children (after she converted to Buddhism and stopped eating them), and couples who want children come here to pray. A statue of Hariti stands by the road, a long stairway leads up to the temple.

Candidasa is not far from other main attractions on East Bali. You do not have to drive a car to explore the nearby area, you can rent a bike or just take a walk in the hills behind the village or to Tenganan, were old rituals in a traditional Bali Aga society is still being maintained. The walk to Tenganan is 5 km long and will take about 2.5 hours from Candidasa.

The small islands in the background is a good place for snorkling and diving.In Candidasa you can also enjoy the view towards Nusa Penida, or on a clear day all the way to Lombok. Other activities here can be shopping, and of course to enjoy a good dinner in one of the many restaurants. There is a large variety of seafood here. In the evenings there are regular dance performances.

Even if the beach is not much to look at there are many possibilities for water sport here. Not far away there are several good beaches where you can swim, and outside Candidasa there are some small islands with very clean water and good conditions for snorkeling and diving. You can get there in 30-40 minutes by boat, preferably with some locals who knows the ever-changing currents.

Article by Indonesia Photo

Goa Lawah, The Bat Cave

There is no doubt why Goa Lawah, the bat cave, has got this name. Thousands of noisy bats fill the air in and around the cave, with a sharp smell of bat droppings covering the ground in a thick layer. It is also said that pythons live inside the cave, feeding on the bats. The entrance to the sacred cave is at the foot of a hill. According to legends it continue all the way to the base of Gunung Agung via an underwater river, and surfaces inside the Pura Goa temple (the cave temple) within the Besakih temple complex, about 25 km away.

A legend describe how a prince of Mengwi once entered the cave and came out in Besakih, but later nobody has tried to repeat this journey.

A Shiva temple with shrines guards the entrance.Today it is not allowed to enter the cave, which may be fortunate. This is also home of Naga Basuki, the mythical and sacred dragon of the Agung mountain, caretaker of the earth’s equilibrium. He is honored with offerings in the temple outside the entrance.

A Shiva temple guards the entrance, with several shrines covered in bat droppings. Pura Goa Lawah is like Goa Gajah one of the oldest attractions on Bali, probably dating all the way back to 1007 AD, founded by the holy man Empu Kuturan. A meeting should have taken place here in 1904 where the princes of Bali made a plan to stop the Dutch invasion.

Pura Goa Lawah is one of the most important state temples on the island. The temple buildings in front of the cave is new, similar to other newer temples on Bali.

In and around the cave there are unknown numbers of bats in the air and hanging upside down on the cave walls.The site has undoubtedly become a tourist trap, with many souvenir stalls and very persistent hawkers. When you have fought your way through this you will see an interesting place, but probably not be able to hang around for long because of the smelly and noisy bats. After the visit can have a relaxing walk on the beach just opposite the main road, with an excellent view towards Nusa Penida.

Goa Lawah is located along the main road on the south east coast of Bali, about 9 km east of Semarapura (Klungkung). This is an interesting road along the coast where you can enjoy hills, forests and rice fields.

Tenganan, The Bali Aga (Ancient) Village

When Majapahit conquered Bali in 1343 there were some Balinese who did not accept this change of rule, and therefore built their own villages in remote areas. The descendants of these people are today known as Bali Aga or Bali Mula, meaning “the original Balinese”. They still live in villages like Tenganan in East Bali or Trunyan at the shores of the Batur lake. Many of the old traditions are still maintained, and it is still possible to see their unique ceremonies and dance performances.

The Tenganan people are convinced they are descendants of the gods. Even if the Bali Aga people today are Hindus they still practice a religion which is partly a heritage from pre-Hindu times, with obvious Polynesian characteristics.

An old woman in Tenganan’s streets.The holy “Usana Bali” text tells the Bali Aga to take care of this land, to honor the descendants of their creator; Batara Indra. This can explain why they still hang on to the old ways of life, even if modern symbols like television, telephone and motorbikes have entered the village. Prior to the Indonesian liberation Tenganan was surrounded by a high wall, still today you have to pass through a gate to enter. Land and common property belong to the entire village community.

The rice fields are usually leased to the neighboring villages for the price of half the harvest. In that way the Tenganan people can concentrate about more artistic pursuits like weaving, dance, music and religious ceremonies. Some do also own business in nearby Candidasa, and the people here is said to be among the richest on Bali.

A narrow path between the buildings. Most of the buildings have thatched roofs.More than 100 families today live in the village, under strict laws. Until recently it was not allowed to marry anyone from outside the village without moving away from here. Because of this there has not been any growth in the population. The village counsel, in close cooperation with the gods, decided that the newcomer could undergo a mock cremation ritual from which he or she is brought back as a Tenganian, and so be allowed to live in the village.

The village has a characteristic architecture, and cover a rectangular area of about 250 by 500 meters. The buildings are mainly made of stone and thatched with straw, many has the shape of a longhouse. Tenganan do resemble primitive villages on Nias and Sumba. Wide streets cut through the village, between the houses there are narrow paths. Here is of course a temple, Pura Jero, on a hilltop at the back of the village. Around Tenganan there are some smaller versions of this village.

Tenganan is known for the uniqueTenganan is open for visitors who come here to look and buy souvenirs. It is known for the unique “double ikat” produced here, called “Kamben Geringsing” (“flaming cloths”). Kamben Geringsing is woven with a complicated, traditional technique, and is used only for ceremonial purposes. On Bali this is a sacred textile; a protection against evil spirits and illness. Because it is not worked on continuously and because the coloring process is so involved, it can take up to seven years to complete a fine piece of geringsing. These pieces are generally only sold upon the death of the owner. The ones sold to tourists are unfortunately of much simpler quality, but is still a popular souvenir. You can watch the production in one of the few houses where this old craft is still known.

Other products you can by here are the so called Lontar books, made from the leaves of the Lontar palm. The books contain artistic drawings and poems from Hindu epics, it can take a month to produce one book with only five pages.

Tenganan is located not far from the main road between Semarapura and Amlapura, before Candidasa there is a sign, turn left and drive about 3 km inland. The closest place to stay is Candidasa, five km away.

Tirtagangga, The Water Palace

Tirta Gangga is a small village built on an altitude of about 500 meters, seven km northwest of Amlapura. Tirta Gangga means “water from the Ganges”, and the place is known for it’s “water palace” and beautiful surroundings. In many people’s opinion this is among the most beautiful areas on Bali. Lately Tirta Gangga has become increasingly popular as a base for exploration of East Bali.

Many visitors prefer to go hiking or biking in the lovely surroundings, or even rent a guide here to take them to the top of Gunung Agung or other nearby mountains. The walk to Gunung Agung’s top takes about 4 hours, including one hour of car transport to the starting point.

The palace was a place for rest and recreation for the king and his family.The village is maybe most famous for the water palace, built by the last king of Karangasem (see Amlapura); Raja Anak Agung Anglurah Ketut. Tirta Gangga was one of the king’s favorite places to go for relaxation. A similar palace can be found in Ujung five km south of Amlapura. The palace in Tirta Gangga was built in 1947 and take it’s water from a holy spring. The complex is made of several pools, one is open for the local population and very popular among the local children, another is open for tourists.

The village has no large number of accommodation and restaurants, but outside the high season there should be room for everybody who find their way here. The prices are reasonable, there are no five-star hotels here.

The small village Tirta Gangga is situated among fertile ricefields.If you continue further north from Tirta Gangga you will climb even higher in altitude and have a beautiful view over fertile rice fields, with the blue ocean in the background and dense forest behind you. The vegetation becomes more scarce after Culik, but many decide to continue to Tulamben on the northeast coast, mainly to dive on the wreck of the American freighter “Liberty”, which was torpedoed by the Japanese outside Lombok in 1942.

Another alternative from Tirta Gangga can be to walk to the easternmost mountain on Bali, Gunung Lempuyang (1.058 meters). Pura Lempuyang, an important temple, is located at the foot of the mountain. This is a state temple, “sad-kahyangan”, with the same status as temples like Uluwatu and Besakih.

Thanks to Mr. Lee

Thank you to Mr. Simon Lin from Singapore for using our service on 7 October 2007.
Please read his comment, sent by email. He visited Kintamani & Ubud. And love it very much.

Bellow comment sent by email:
How are you? I’m Simon, from Singapore, was in Bali over the weekend on 7 Oct which you brought me around in Bali. I enjoy the lunch at Kintamani the most, should have spend more time to walk around Kintamani and in Ubud. However, my itenary was too rush. Will certainly come back next time and look for you.I have some photos which I took…pretty good ones.

I have recommended you to my friends and they will contact you if they are to go to Bali.

Kuta Beach, one of the Sexiest Beaches in the World

According to Concierge.com, Kuta Beach is one of the sexiest beaches in the world.

Kuta Beach, Bali, Indonesia

The vibe: Beachcombing boho chic

Picture this: Bali is a fine place to drop onto a chaise lounge, pull up a parasol, and sleep in the sun. That’s the best way to detox from the all-night singing, dancing, and hooking-up action of Kuta Beach, in southern Bali. The cafés, bars, and nightclubs lining the streets of Kuta and Legian are the hub of hedonism for the young and the restless.

The crowd: Wall-to-wall buff bodies—many of them honed on the beaches of Australia—in this season’s hot metallics, beads, and bangles.

The sundowner: Take your drink of choice and enjoy the term literally: Bali is famous for its sunsets. Watch the sun turn from bright orange to blood red before slipping into the horizon across the bay.

Come to bed: Take a break from the party and snuggle up at Kuta Paradiso Hotel Bali, with 243 deluxe rooms and suites overlooking the ocean. Sip cocktails by the pool and hang out in the piano lounge for upmarket evening entertainment.

Ubud, Center of Art

Ubud is located 35 km northeast of Bali’s International Airport. It is attractive to tourists for a variety of reasons. On a relatively small island with a horde of attractions, Ubud is centrally located, and even the closest beach is only 15 minutes away.

The Ubud area is around two- to three hundred meters above sea level and surrounded by rice fields, which makes it noticeably cooler than then other tourist destinations in Bali. Neighbouring villages are well known for unique bamboo crafts and furniture, wood- and stone carving and many other crafts.

Ubud is famous for it’s regularly nightly traditional dance performances, which are part of the traditional culture and are arranged for tourists on a regular schedule. Hindu-Balinese ceremonies take place on a nearly daily basis, especially in the European summer, which is the driest and coolest season here.

Ubud is popular in part today because it is the best place in Bali to break out of the tourist mode and get off the beaten path, although far from undiscovered. Hotels are plentiful; home stays and Indonesian guesthouses (losmen) are easily available to the foreign tourist. Many tourists simply base their entire stay in the city and travel to other destinations from Ubud.

Accommodations in Ubud are also somewhat more reasonably priced than in the beach towns of Bali. But atmosphere is perhaps the major attractions. One visitor summed it up this way: Kuta is madness, Sanur is sterile, and Nusa Dua is culturally isolated; Ubud is the place to go.

Visit http://www.ubud.com for more information

Bedugul, Mountain & Lake Combination

Bedugul is the name of the area south and west of the Danau Bratan lake. Taking the road passing Bedugul is the fastest way to travel from the southern tourist areas to Singaraja and North Bali. From the south the road passes through some steep terrain before Bedugul, with a very scenic landscape. The Taman Rekreasi Bedugul (Bedugul recreation park) is on the south side of Danau Bratan, you cannot miss the entrance which is marked with a huge sign by the main road.

The high altitude makes Bedugul a nice and cool place to be, and during heavy rainfall it is rather cold compared to the lowlands.

Hindus on their way to the Botanical Garden.It is a large market tn the Candikuning village, Bukit Mungsu, with a good assortment of fruit and vegetables. Sometimes you can even buy strawberries here. Close by there is a botanical garden, Kebun Raya Eka Karya Bali, where you can take a relaxing walk among trees and orchids. The 120 hectare large garden contain about 500 types of orchid and a large number of tree species. You can find it by following a narrow road, about one km from Candikuning.

Rice fields.The Bratan lake is located inside an old caldera. On the western shores there is a famous temple, Pura Ulun Danu Bratan. You can rent a boat and take a round trip on the lake, with a stop at Ulun Danu (see Bratan). The Bedugul area is not yet spoiled by hawkers or other irritating aspects of modern tourism, and you can have a relaxing time here. There are some accommodation in Bedugul, Candikuning or Pancasari further north.

If you continue north from here you will pass the mountains, from there you can follow the road steep down on the other side towards Singaraja.

Jatiluwih Rice Field

There is no doubt that Jatiluwih is among the most beautiful places and can offer some of the best scenery on the entire island of Bali. The place has a particular charm even if the weather, which can change dramatically within minutes, is rainy and cloudy. Everywhere you look you see green rice fields and rice terraces, combined with high mountains and forests. On clear days you may see large parts of southern Bali.

Jatiluwih can offer some of the best scenery on Bali, even on a rainy day like this.Jatiluwih is located in the Tabanan district, about 20 km north of Tabanan city. The village sits on an altitude of 850 meters, the air is relatively cold and fresh. The last part of the road can best be described as rough, narrow and full of holes. Pass the small village and pay the fee to enter the area, then continue to Cafe’ Jatiluwih about one km further along the road, don’t forget to stop and take photos on the way. At the Cafe’ you can have lunch while you enjoy the lovely view. The best chances to have clear weather is early in the morning.

Farmers are still using traditional methods.Almost everyone up here are involved in agriculture, mainly growing of rice. Many of the old traditions are still maintained, even today you can see a farmer plowing his fields with water buffaloes.

A trip to Jatiluwih can be combined with a visit to Gunung Batukau and the Pura Luhur Batukau temple at the foot of this mountain, you can also make a stop at the hot springs at Yeh Panes along the road to Batukau.

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