The island of Bali is a naturally beautiful, culturally rich and religiously intact tourist destination to explore and enjoy. It is one of the most popular island destinations in Indonesia for Australians – due to its close geographical location to Australia – and to other Asian tourist alike. Active volcano, large water reservoirs from natural lake, paddy terrains and beautiful sandy beaches is how nature can impress you here. Existence of Hindu Temples or “Pura” in local language, from the 10th century and beyond, all over the island, shows the strength of Hinduism among the people of Bali.
As much as I love adventure, I had the opportunity to make a travel all by myself out of an unexpected event. Thanks to my best buddy, who initially planned to make the Bali trip with me, had to be stopped at the airport check-in counter. His passport to be expired in 3months and he missed to renew (minimum validity of 6months is required before Malaysians can leave the country). It was sad and as the saying goes “All is Well”, I truly enjoyed most of Bali with a help of a new found friend, a day excursion with other tourists and in the company of a private tour guide.
Balinese are proud of their ancient temples, mostly build during the spread of Hinduism to the island and are being used as a place of worship and cultural gatherings till to this day. The first temple I visited was the Pura Taman Ayu located in Mengwi Village, about 25Km from Bandar Kuta were I stayed.
At first sight, two stone statues at the entrance – a character from Hindu Epic Ramayana, decorated elaborately with head gear, jewelry ornaments and a nice piece of clothing – impressed me! Next, the details on the stone gate – the “spilt gate” is a popular symbol of Bali around the world – is intricate and smooth. The place surrounded with a moat and a bridge for crossover. Inside, the temple ground filled with a park, pond, “candi” in the form of a water fountain truly to its name Taman Ayu which translates “Beautiful Garden”. Although the main temple is closed to tourist, the beautiful multistoried roof structure of the temple is an enjoyable sight even from the outside.
I was happily snapping photos from every angle of structures, offerings, swans, lily plants while enjoying the peace and tranquility of the place before leaving for another pura.
Pura Ulu Danu is a short drive away from Megwi at the shores of Lake Bratan. The uniqueness of this temple is, it’s build on a lake with a breath-stopping mountain view as its backdrop. Believe me, the view of this place, is truly amazing. Be it the position of the temple on the water, plume of white fog descending from the mountains over to the lake, temple pagodas or the flowers surrounding the temple park becomes a playground for anyone with a camera. The temple shares the multi-tier structure with split gate as other Bali temples. I was told that this temple is a place of worship of Hindu God Shiva and Bharma. It is also interesting to find Buddhist Pagoda and Lord Ganesha statue in the outer courtyard. I was all smiles before the tour ends.
A visit to the temple for worshiping sea god completes my first day excursion around Bali. It’s called Tanah Lot Temple, located on the west coast of the island overlooking Indian Ocean. This temple was built on a piece of rock just few meters from the land where a Hindu Religious Traveler believed to have rested. I managed to find a spot closest to the rock to get the best view of the pura as the temple is inaccessible due to high tide. Locals normally walk to the temple during low tide and perform prayers to the sea god. Constant wave smash over the years, carved a layer of wavy patterns and beautiful rock formations. It was 6pm, the area packed with tourists who want to catch a view of the sunset, as it is also popularly known. I said goodbye to the sun with satisfaction while witnessing a bunch of surfers challenging the high waves of the Indian Ocean.
My private tour guide, Didi, drove me to the town of Ubud, well known for its cultural heritage. Monkey Forest Temple is my first visit in the town, named after the families of monkeys guarding the temple grounds and its forest surrounding. After paying an entrance fee of 20000Rupiah, I was quickly greeted by our close distance friends, monkeys, expecting bananas from each passing tourist. Some of the more mischievous ones jumped on tourists and cuddly sits on them. The younglings were more interested playing in the pool nearby to cool themselves from the hot weather. The forest is truly mystical and ancient under the thick tree canopies. Banyan trees with its huge roots from above filled the temple courtyard and each stone carving covered with moss which was an amazing “Green Sight”. I felt as if I’m in “Indiana Jones Movie Set”, while sitting on a life sized stone Komodo dragon and a snake bridge, posing for the camera. The temple has a fish pond with Ganesha Statue in it, kinky monkey statues and demon guardians at the entrance. This is my favorite temple.
On the way to Kintamani, we had a stopover at Gunung Kawi. This ancient worship place located in the mountainous region of Ubud as its name suggests. To reach the temple ground, we climbed down long stairs along the paddy terrace. The villagers were most welcoming with nice broad smile on their faces and college students performing religious rites in traditional attire. Nearby the temple are the Royal Tombs of Kings and Queens of Ubud, carved on a piece of huge boulder. “All Balinese temple thatched roofs are made out of palm fiber and can last up to 100years”, said Didi, educating me. Impressive!
The next day, Didi arranged a drive to the southern most tip of Bali Island. Pura Uluwatu, resides on this very edge of massive rock cliffs facing the vast Indian Ocean. This temple is also built to pray to the sea gods. Ignoring scorching midday sun, I calmly walked whole length of the cliff end to end watching the sea below, studying the rock formations, admiring the work of art many hundreds years ago and posing for snapshots. It was a wonderful experience to note how “ancient man” built structures can blend in with nature so elegantly. However, it’s sad that nature is being widely destroyed for development nowadays.
Contiuning Touring D’Bali in next few posts…..