Tuesday, June 2, 2015

THE FAMED TEMPLES OF BALI


There are numerous temples in Bali that it would be impossible to visit all those for a first time visit.  Statistics say it’s over 20,000 puras (Balinese for temple) and each one has its distinct character and façade.  But only a number makes it to the tourists map, thereby making it mandatory for visitors like us to check out.

Apart from distance, admission fee poses a hindrance for the urge to visit the said temples.  My favorite temple has no admission fee and I stand firm that it is equally stunning as the other temples.
  
The stories built on each pagoda and memories created onsite are nevertheless priceless that may compensate for the fees paid.




PURA BESAKIH
Entrance: 15,000 IDR (1.13USD)

Situated at the foot of Mount Agung, the tallest mountain in Bali, Indonesia, Pura Besakih is known as the mother of all temples.  It is likewise the largest, most important and the holiest temple of Hindu religion in Bali.

Made, our driver, told us that there is an ongoing prayer ceremony during our time of visit.  I forgot if it’s an anniversary of the temple or another festival but whatever it is, we are fortunate to have witnessed such event.  At the foot of the mountain, our driver parked the van and waited for us, as we started to walk the uphill and cemented slope towards the temple.

After a few minutes, the Tourist Information Center came in sight.  It is mandatory to register, says the person who mans the booth.  There were a few motorbikes and locals on queue.  We obliged and paid the entrance fee.  But there’s more.  A guide is likewise mandatory.  And so we reacted.  What are the entrance fee for?  Following a series of negotiations and bargaining, we acceded to the minimal fee reached through compromise.

Honestly, the temple complex can be reached even without a guide.  I saw some western foreigners wandering alone - maybe they have been here more than once.

Mount Agung is visible from a far and serves as a picturesque backdrop of the temple on clear skies.  But we were there on a gloomy weather, thus, the mountain was covered by the thick clouds that hover.  The walk continues despite the 1USD offer of a certain motorbike driver.  He must have surmised I am the weakest link on physical activities such as this.  But of course I declined and the walk continues.

After a few minutes, we made it to the temple complex, greeted by a steep flight of stairs as if leading to heaven.

A number of pilgrims were present, mostly carrying offerings in baskets over their head.  It was a huge temple complex.  The main temple housed pilgrims dressed in white.




As we move from one temple to another, I can’t help but be amazed of the sculptures, pagodas and concrete pavements surrounding the complex.  Pura Besakih is actually a complex housing twenty-two temples that sit on parallel ridges.  I can’t even remember how many temples we have entered but reaching the topmost vantage, where souvenir shops are, a good sight of the entire complex can be had and that was our last stop for the day before heading back.













On our way to the parking lot, the skies have cleared for a split of a second and Mount Agung was immediately registered on our respective cameras.





PURA LUHUR ULUWATU
Entrance: 20,000 IDR (1.51USD)


Built at the edge of a 70 meter high cliff projecting into the sea, the Uluwatu temple is another trekking expedition for me.  But before we could reach the said temple, the entrance compound has given warnings of extreme caution when wandering – the wild monkeys are to watch out for.





I was at the restroom when I suddenly heard someone announcing that should your belongings be grabbed by the monkeys within the vicinity, one should immediately report the incident to the caretaker to be able to locate it.  Then warnings of not to wear shades, cap and other objects that can easily be grabbed ensued.  To be able to see monkeys in the wild is an opportunity, but if they mingle with the visitors and be aggressive is another story.  The first time I visited Batu Caves of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in the year 2008, my travel buddy and I had a quick episode of trauma as our snacks ordered from a fast food chain were grabbed by a monkey and we were surrounded by a lot of them with an aggressive presence that all we had to do is just shout, thereby disturbing the tranquility of the vicinity for us to get the caretakers’ attention.  That was way back when tourists were less in number and commuting took a number of hours from the city center.  With that experience, I was careful not to make any eye contact with the notorious monkeys.  They were everywhere in the pavement leading to the temple, some hidden in the bush, seated on benches, and relaxing on trees.






Then we passed by Balinese architecture of gateways and sculptures after ascending a number of concrete steps.  As usual, I was perspiring.  But the view at the top of the cliff and beside the temple was the perfect reward.  I had a glimpse of the Indian Ocean and its roaring waves and I was reminded of the view while at Palaui Island, Cagayan of the Philippines.

It was quite relaxing while on top of the cliff as we breathe fresh air, though the fear of heights came into test.  It was a good moment to remember. 






They say sunset is best viewed at the sea temple of Uluwatu.  And though we were not able to witness the same, the view was more than enough for the short stroll we had at the temple grounds. 

Uluwatu Temple is situated in Pecatu Village, Kuta South District at the southernmost of Bali, known to many as the Bukit Peninsula.  As we finished our tour, monkeys were nowhere to be found at the exact location where they were a number hours ago.  They have moved to the mountains before nightfall.


TANAH LOT TEMPLE
Entrance: 30,000 IDR (2.27 USD)


I had an earlier vision of Balinese temples perched on a rock formation surrounded by ocean tides.  Then it came to my resolve that the vision was on account of the film adaptation of Eat, Pray and Love.

We were headed to Tanah Lot Temple, one of the significant coastal temples of Bali and an extremely popular tourist destination.  Like any destination made popular through film, commerce was heightened and admission fees is expected to be high. 



The car park has a fee of 5,000 IDR per vehicle.  Then we walked towards the beach where the temple stands adjacent.  En route is a number of souvenir shops.  Passing by the said vendors and arriving at the beachfront, The Tanah Lot Temple stands on an imposing rock offshore.

There were visitors who walked through the shores towards the temple.  A donation is being asked by the locals as well.  It is advisable to cross towards the temple during low tide.  Though we saw a number walking through the shores and fighting the splash of the waves coming from varied directions, I was contented standing on one corner of the beach near the local guides dressed in white.





There is likewise a footpath giving a good vantage for photographs of the temple and the shores that surround.  On the other side of the vicinity are temples used for worship.  We were able to witness one group making offerings of a suckling pig, which I surmise the group will later on feast upon.





Hotels and a number of organized tours make Tanah Lot a mandatory part of the itinerary for sunset viewing.  And again, we were not able to experience the same.  But for personal satisfaction and curiosity, it feels good to have visited a site featured on varied forms of media and even on film.


These are just but a few of the many temples of Bali but these three are definitely a must for first timers and a constant attraction as suggested by guide books.


Note:
It would be advisable for long distance travels within a day to charter a private car for safety and convenience.

Jalan Cekomaria Gang Taman IV No. 1 Denpasar, Bali
Phone: (0361)7966391
Mobile Phone: (+62) 81 558 449 505/ (+62) 81 936 175 556
Emails: 
info@baligoldentour.com




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