Bali Destination


index1222One of the most respected dance groups in Bali performs several nights a week in the outercortyard of the principal palace, at the northeast corner of the central crossroads. Their backdrop is a grand gate, kori agung, built by Ubud’s most famous artist, I Gusti Nyoman Lempad. It separates the outer courtyard from the inner sanctums of the palace where the current riling cokorda lives. The Puri Saren was demolished by the great earthquake of 1971, so the maze of courtyards, pavilions, and elaborate gates extending far behind the kori agung were mostly built soon thereafter.


index78from the southeast corner of the main palace crossroads sprawls Ubud’s everygrowing market. While most if it is devoted now to crafts and souvenirs, the traditional portion of the market still thrives alongside the tourist-inclined part.


index657Scattered thoughout Bali are numerous temple groves and woods which have been set aside as sanctuaries for monkeys, to thank them for the assistance they gave Rama in the rescue of his bride Sita from the clutches of King Rawana, in the Ramayana epic.


kintamani-baliMount Batur is still active, as is evident from the steam drifting around its crown. The lava flows on the southwestern flank were as recent farming in the caldera.


index0Also called Air Panas, Toyabungkah is the site of another important spring temple, but it more conspicuously a tourist spot. The hot springs, flowing into cement-lined pools on the lakeshore, are crownded, and popular with Indonesian students and day-trippers. From here one can embark on a hike up Mount Batur, but those who prefer to observe an active volcano without climbing into it may take a close look at the lava flow left by the 1965-74 eruptions. the road through Toyabungkah toward Songan comes to an abrupt half at the lava flow. The reason the goes no farther becomes dramatically clear.


45No one is sure what the figure represents, but the monstrous face, whose fanged mount is the entrance to a man-made cave, appears to represents an earth spirit clawing its way out of the cosmic mountain, which is populated by a corious and often comical array of animals and phantoms. According to 14th century Javanese scribes, this was one of Bali’s pricipal Buddhist sanctuaries. Yet in the dark tunnels of its cave we find Hindu linggas and a statue of Siwa’s Ganesha, the elephant god of Hinduism. At every turn one is confronted with elements of both religions, ranging from the 8th to 14th centuries, suggesting that Bali’s religious syncretism goes back a very long way. To the left of the cave is a small shrine housing a 1000-years-old statue of the Buddhist goddess Hariti, protector of children, surrounded by a brood of her young charges. Hariti had been a notorious baby-aeting ogress until Buddhism changed her wicked ways. At the bottom of the ravine some unusual broken fragments of collapsed cliff have been found with very old and rare relief carvings of delicate stupas in the style of 8th-century Java. Farther on are two small Buddhas in the lotus position, also tentatively dated to the time of the great javanese monument, Borobudur . Beyond the buddhas lies the entrance to what may have been a hermit’s cave. So far, it has been excavated to a depth of only 30 feet; whatever lies beyond that remains a mystery.


mailThe more famous painted ceiling of the Kerta Gosa has also gone through numerous changes this century. It had to be restored after the repainted during the 1930’s by Pan Sekan, a master artist from the nearby village of Kamasan



456Pura Besakih is not one temple but a vast complex of temples sprawling across the mountainside. For most visitors, the first impression apart from the hot climb from the parking lot) os of the literally hundreds of delicately towering meru, their many tiered roofs of black palm-fiber thatching pointing skyward like a fleet of rockest awaiting the signal for lift-off. Their purpose is, in fact, the opposite. Their structural core is an unobstructed square tunnel down which deities, ancestors, and spirits can descend on festive occasions to take their places in the shrines at their base. Pura Besakih is not a launch pad but a landing field for the gods. The central temple in the complex, Pura Penataran Agung, is dedicated to the god Siwa.


234Its three chunky meru stand at the entrence to a deep cavern, their tiered roofs of black palm fiber staind with the droppings of the thousands of bats which dangle from the rocky overhang. Nobody knows how far the cave extends, it being taboo to venture too deep, but one story claims that it reaches all the way to besakih, 12 miles away, while another tells that there is a submarine tunnel to the powerful temple, Pura Peed, on the facing coast of Nusa Penida.


87About 2,5 miles southeast of Amplapura, near the village of Ujung on the road to Seraya, are the restored ruins of a vast royal pleasure garden, built in 1919 and suggestive of a kind of esthetic delirium on the part of royal Karangasem at the beginning of the 20th century.


09Waterfall Air Terjun GITGIT (Hard g’s, by the way, or the Balinese will die laughing :jit-jit means “bottoms”.) No amount of promotion can diminish the glory of this waterfall, but the approach with its multitude of kiosks is not what is used to be. The popularity of Gitgit has led to the discovery of numerous other lovely and less-vesited waterfalls in the area, some with trailheads marked by painted signs.


453been formally landscaped with clipped lawns and hold flowerbeds that repfect the elegance of the lakeside temple and its stately meru. Tourists are allowed to roam the gardens and through thThis is a major stop for the tourist buses, but it is too beutiful to miss. The outer grounds have e our courtyard, but entry into the over the walls. The temple is said to be associated with the Bratan clan of the Pande caste, from which the lake takes its name. The goddess of the lake is honored at Pura Ulun Danu at the taller of the two meru on little island near the shore.


342The hot springs are not far to the west of the monastery, return to Banjar and follow the signs to Air Panas. The key word for this little spa is modesty: in fees, in water tempereture (about 100o Fahrenheit), and in proper attire for bathing


1469996_694305907248704_1303685888_nqAccording to legent, the temple Pura Pakendungan, better known now as Pura Tanah lot, was founded by the 16th-century priest Danghyang Nirarth out of sheer adoration for the natural beauty of the landscape here. It’s not hard to understand why : the power of the sea and the abrupt drama of the coastline here are aweinspiring. The little temple sits atop an outcrop of rock in the suft, guarded by sea snakes. It is currenty undergoing a major offshore reef conservation project, and heavy machinery temporarily spoil the view, but these works will eventuelly protect the temple from erosion and collapse.


32The water palace at Tirtha Gangga, about 4 miles northwest of Amplapura, was built in 1948 by the last raja of Karangasem, A.A. Ngurah Ketut Karangasem, in a series of formal pools fed by a sacred spring. The eruption of Mount Agung in 1963, which buried much of the neighboring village of Subagan, badly damaged Tirtha Gangga. It has been gradually restored, and is open to the publi for a small fee. A small hamlet of tourist accomodations and eating places has grown up here, but the main attrection is the swimming, which is permintted in several designated pools : a large one open to anyone, and a smaller one closer to the spring, for which an additional admission fee is charged. The water is indescribably refreshing, a swimming pool of holy water.


index2214This is probaly the largest existing Balinese house temple, built in the middle of the 18th century by Mengwi’s greatest king, Cokorda Munggu. He moved the center of the kingdom from Kapal to the village of Mengwi where he founded a new palace, Puri Gede Mengwi, not far from Pura Taman Ayun. The temple is surrounded by a wide moat. There is a grand jaba pura (outer courtyard) with a fine wantilan pavilion in the southeast : the lines in the floor mark out the rings andperimeters for cockfights. A split gate leads into the broad central courtyard from which you can admire the manificent gateto the inner courtyard (jeroan).The low walls of the jeroan are shaded by flowering trees that go down to the banks of the moat. Entry to the jeroan is not permitted, but you can look over the walls at its fine old pavilion and the meru honoring the deities of the mountaint Batu Karu, Agung, Batur and Pengelengan.


55The village of Jimbaran lies on the western shore of the narrow isthmus connecting the Bukit peninsula to the main island. It’s beach-lined bay has developed slower than it’s northern neighbours, Kuta, Legian and Seminyak. Although there are now several fine hotels and villas here, many of the locals are still fishermen. In the afternoon you can see their boats heading out to sea from the front of Jimbaran fish market. Nearby, on the beach, there are rows of casual cafes serving superb, just-caught fish grilled over coconut husks.


678The most famous temple is Pura Luhur Uluwatu, at the southwest extremity of the peninsula, perched on a high limestone cliff. This is one of the most visited tourist destinations, especially at sunset, when for a few moment the light is unearthly. The surf just below Uluwatu is word-famous.
Life on the once-poor Bukit has been transformend since the building of the five-star hotel complex at Nusa Dua on the Bukit’s northeast coast in the 1980’s. (The “two island” to which the name refers are two projections of rock in the middle of this expensive stretch of beach.)


3544The road north from Pejeng follows the course of the Pakerisan River, which remains just out of sight to the east. Several minor roads and lanes head toward the river, where little-known bathing places, ancient shrines, and monuments cut into the rock dot it’s gorge. The most important ones, however, are in Tampaksiring.
Most of the pavilions and sculptures in this temple are neither old nor exceptional : the spring-fed bathing pools are it’s most important feature. The historical and ritual importance of this complex to the people of Gianyar lies in these pools in which Indra’s celestial army was revived before defeating King Maya Danawa.
Pura Besakih is indisputably the most important temple comlex on the island. Located high on the slopes of Mount Agung, the axis to the Balinese cosmos, it was, until earlier this century, a uniquely hazardous place to visit. It was more than just the physical hardships and dangers of treacherous ravines and dense forests that made travelers hesitate to venture there alone. Far more alarming were the psychic risks of abandoning the world where humans belong to approach the supernatural realm of the spirits.


345“Lovina” refers to the slightly tarnished outpost of tourism along the beaches immediately west of Singaraja, actually a string of small villages and fishing hamlets. During the past decades, the bay of Lovina has been quarried for coral and intensively fished. The coral was burned to make building lime for mortar. An unexpected and welcome recent dividend of diving and snorkeling among other water sports, is that now the coral is protected, and the local fishermen voluntarily participate in a cleanup of the beach every week. Lovina has had it’s ups and downs through the years, and always appears to be on the brink of a renaissance. It offers visitors good value, with a wide selection of budget bungalows, and a few more upscale options, now coming into their own as well.

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