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Few Days in Paradise – Bali. Episode 3: Tampaksiring, Batur, Pura Besakih

Bali travel: the ceremony

The next day, I left towards Bali’s strongest touristical points – the huge caldera of the Batur volcano, but also Bali’s Vatican, the so-called Mother Temple… obviously, on the way, many other beautiful places and various attractions.

Having left Ubud in the morning, I made the first stop ​​in Tampaksiring which houses one of the largest temples in Bali… Unlike many other temples, here, the Balinese come to cleanse, washing in one of the sacred basins in the complex. Unlike many other Asian countries where there is a definite separation of the sexes, in Bali, everything is more relaxed … even women can bathe (sacredly, of course) together with men, but dressed in a T-shirt… in fact, almost everywhere in South East Asia (including Thailand, which is perceived as liberal), women bathe dressed even on the beach. So, I had no surprise to see chicks in shirts and long trousers taking a bath in the basins of the temple.


I made the next stop at one of the many spice gardens in the area… I have seen enough of these in my life from Zanzibar to Bali, but, every time , it is a nice tour… a garden full of plants – be it the cocoa tree or banana trees, coffee plants or mango trees, they are all very beautifully arranged, and a guide explains to you every herb that he gives you … I have always liked the way they crack the fruit from which cocoa is extracted cocoa open and later on chocolate… and, then, I always wonder how Asian chocolate can be so bad Asiatic when, actually, the key ingredient comes from here… In this garden there, also, some simpatico parrots and a lady who was roasting and then grinding coffee manually, so my friends who wanted a real cup of coffee enjoyed the fruits of the volcanic earth…

Although it was a nice place, we did not stay too long… the beautiful panorama of Lake Batur was expecting us. And it is impossible not to be left stunned when you get to the edge of the volcano, at Penelokan… a huge caldera is placed at your feet, where there is a lake of a pure blue, and somewhere to the left, the Gunung Batur top which is 1717 metres high is also a favourite target for climbers in Bali… The current peak has existed in its current form since the last massive eruption in 1917, but you can find many small sub-craters all around the area (in the last century, Batur has erupted at least six times). Obviously, this fabulous view can not be missed by the tourist industry in Bali, so, numerous restaurants with “all-you-can-eat” offers are aligned on the edge of the volcano.

I went down the road that surrounds the volcano and we stopped at a view point where there were fewer vendors of souvenirs and we could enjoy the gorgeous view – a mountain, black slopes, burnt by lava, a lake, but also lush vegetation reborn in the areas that have not been covered by lava over the last decades.


I also descended to the lake… the road is rather steep, but spectacular, especially since, at a certain time, you cross a lunar landscape, burned, lifeless, where the road, otherwise flawless, is wavy… At the end of the road, right on the lake shore, there is a complex lake with warm volcanic water basins… I had visited it in 2004, too and it had seemed brilliant to me, there were just pools, now it is a quite spacious complex with a hotel, restaurants, a spa, etc, etc, but there is an entrance fee… and, as we had no plans to stay there, we took a picture and we walked on… but not before we wet our feet in the Batur Lake.

The next stop was at Pura Besakih, Bali’s mother temple … This huge complex has no less than 23 temples, located at the feet of Gunung Agung, the highest peak on the island (about 3100 meters), an active volcano. Unfortunately, despite the prestige, it is perhaps the most unpleasant place on the whole island – it is the only place you’ll feel cheated… as soon as you get to the parking lot, you are immediately told you cannot visit it without a guide. It is a lie. Then you will be told you cannot enter because there is a ceremony. Nonsense, Pura Besakih always has ceremonies in one of its 23 temples. Generally, when I get to complex palaces or temple, it is worth hiring a guide to tell me certain things about the place, but also about the locals and their customs. In 2004, we had the ambition to enter without a guide and we applied a method patented in Kathmandu… we spoke only in Romanian, explaining to them, in a firm tone, that we cannot speak any foreign language… although few “guides” chased us, they left us alone, seeing how limited we were as we “did not speak” at least English, French, Italian, German, Japanese or any other language spoken by a guide… in 2009, we took along a guide, however, obviously after long talks and clear cut negotiations, also including the mandatory sarong ( the skirt to be worn in sanctuaries).

However, in Pura Besakih you will surely attend some kind of ceremony – men and women dressed in traditional costumes, women with offerings on their heads, men holding them in their hands, a beautiful arrangement of flowers and fruit, they march as if in a parade to the temple of their family to make offerings. Also, from the top of the complex, the view is wonderful, numerous pagoda towers everywhere… Unfortunately, the time at Pura Besakih is quite moody, being cloudy almost constantly (apparently, it is sunny only in the morning, after the first hours, the mountain is surrounded by clouds).

Pura Besakih temple had an incredible luck … At t he latest major eruption of Gunung Agung in 1963, lava spared the complex, passing literally a few meters from the surrounding fences, proving once more that even the damned volcano is scared of holy places. Also here, in 1963, former Indonesian president, Soekarno, a man with leftist ideas, founded mass tourism in Bali… he invited hundreds of journalists from major newspapers and travel magazines from around the world and set up a luxury info trip where he acted as host… To his anger, Gunung Agung did not take into account the needs of the Balinese tourism industry and it gave clear signs of eruption – terrible rumble, mini-earthquakes… on this background, the schedule was kept, despite the threat of the volcano; a Hollywood-like mega-show was set up right at Pura Besakih… Yet, the volcano was merciful… when the last flight with the last guests was taking off from the Denpasar airport, the volcano finally erupted violently, covering the entire area with lava, except for the Pura Besakih temple.

In 1965 “the Year of Living Dangerously” as it was brilliantly called in a book, General Soeharto, supported by the USA, orchestrated a military coup that led to the overthrow of Soekarno and to the death of hundreds of thousands of people suspected of communist preferences… The Chinese Community was the most severely hit, the ones who escaped the robberies, the killing and, especially, the raping taking refuge in Singapore… Obviously, this did not help tourism in Bali much – it has only started to flourish after the 70’s.

After Pura Besakih, we descended into the valley again, in the sunny Ubud, where we enjoyed the regular schedule – dances and dinner in a restaurant… On the same day, we met another couple of Romanian tourists in Bali whom we had agreed to see in Ubud…

Pictures of Bali


 Bali photo: Balinese offerings

Bali travel: visit Tampaskiring - the saint basin

Bali travel: visit Tampaskiring - the saint basin

Bali photos: Tampaskiring - the saint basin

What to see in Bali:  Tampaksiring

Bali picture: Tampaksiring

Bali photo: Tampaksiting

Bali photos: Tampaksiring

Bali pictures: Tampaksiring

Bali photos

Bali photos: Coffee

What to see in Bali: amazing parrots

Bali photos: fruit country

What to do in Bali: Visit Batur lake

 Batur mount

visiting Batur

Bali trip: visiting Batur

Visiting the Batur lake

Bali trip: the road to Batur

Bali photo: local trader

Bali photos: to the lake

Bali trip: visiting the lake

Bali photos: Balinese lake

Bali photos: Batur lake

Bali photos: The sarong

Bali photos: the ceremony

Bali pictures: the ceremony

Bali traditions: the ceremony

Bali traditions: the ceremony

Bali photos: Pura Besakih

Bali photos: Pura Besakih

Visiting Pura Besakih

Visiting Pura Besakih

Bali trip: visiting Pura Besakih

 Balinese fruits

Bali photos: Balinese dance

Bali photos: Balinese dance

Group photo

Până acum există "2 comentarii" la acest articol:

  1. Hi, just to clarify. If we can get past the hawkers, we can actually enter the temple without a guide and participate in the ceremonies and technically this is allowed? But we would still have to rent a sarong? IF we bring our own sarong that’s okay? Thanks!

    • Imperator says:

      Yes, technically, this is allowed, but it is hard to pass by hawkers. I was there twice – first time, they did not ask for sarong and I pretended not to speak English (I spoke only in Romanian), second time, it became compulsory to wear a sarong and I had to rent / buy one, so I could not play that I don’t understand English. If you bring your own sarong is OK, but it should be long enough :)

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