Mystical Bali - Where Cultural Heritage Meets Natural Beauty

by Shree Vidya

Posted on 11th June, 2015

Bali Sunset
Image Credit - Jorge Dalmau

Endless seas..Ocean full of huge waves..Mixed colours from different waters with varying salt content..Temples in every corner to keep the devils at bay..Every holy place highlighting beautiful architecture..These pleasant statements are not a fantasy. If you want to see this paradise, you have to visit a fascinating island in Indonesia.

Yes..That is Bali. It is neighboured by Java in the west and Lombok Island in the east. It is surrounded by the Bali Sea in the north and the Indian Ocean in the south. The population of this island is around 120 million. Amalgamation of old and new traditions, art and culture are the specialities of this Island.

Interestingly, Bali is part of the coral triangle provinces. The Coral Triangle is a geographical term, and is also known as the "Amazon of the seas". Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Timor-Leste and Solomon Islands are parts of the coral triangle.

Bali is rich in coral rocks. It has 500 varieties of corals. The environmental surroundings combined with calcium carbonate under water leads to the formation of Coral rocks. Bali is rich in marine biodiversity and also is a main centre for its conservation.

Bali Coral Reef

Bali's culture is influenced by Hindu traditions from India and Buddhist traditions from China. Around 85% of people living in Bali are Hindus. There are plenty of temples and traditions that will give you a clear picture of old Hindu culture.

Bali Temple

One of the most famous temples in Bali is "Besakih Temple". This is known as mother temple and is located in East Bali. This is one of the biggest and sacred temples of Bali. It was built between the 10 - 14th century AD and was the state temple of the Gelgel Dynasty. The temple has 6 levels and is located at a height of 3000 feet on the slopes of Mount Agung. While entering the temple, you can see a small and attractive door .. Then the steps rise through split gates to the main courtyard. There are around 23 small shrines situated inside the temple complex, including shrines of the Trinity - Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. According to the spiritual belief of Balinese people, this is the holiest temple. Every year around 72 festivities are conducted at this temple.

This Temple was built facing towards Bali's biggest mountain - "Mount Agung". This is also known as the mother mountain of Bali. The height of this mountain is 9,944 feet. This mountain is famous for the active volcano with a large and very deep crater which occasionally belches smoke and ash.

Besakih Temple Bali
Besakih Temple
Image Credit - Bertrand Duperrin

Besakih Temple Bali
Besakih Temple

Next we can see 'Pura Luhur Uluwatu'. This is one of the most famous sea temples in Bali. It was built in the 11th century. It is located at the edge of a steep cliff at a height of over 70 meters over the roaring waves of the Indian Ocean. This offers the most amazing views during sunrise and sunset. But at the same time, you should beware of naughty monkeys.

Pura Uluwatu Temple Bali
Pura Luhur Uluwatu
Image Credit - Aleksandr Zykov

After that we can visit Pura Gunung Kawi - "Valley of the Kings" is the other name for this temple. The statues of the Kings and queens of the 11th century were carved out of the mountain sides. This pura is surrounded by rice fields. The Pakerisan river flows through the valley. The Balinese believe that the waters of the river are holy. We can see one more temple near this, which is known as Pura Thirta Empul. It is believed that Lord Indra created this spring and taking bath in this water will bring you good health and wealth.

Gunung Kawi Bali
Gunung Kawi
Image Credit - Flip Nomad

Next, Let use see 'Pura Luhur Lempuyang'.. In Balinese language "Pura" means Temple. This temple is dedicated to the supreme god. This is one of Bali's 9 directional temples to protect from evil spirits. But you should climb 1700 steps to reach the temple.

Luhur Lempuyang Temple Bali
Luhur Lempuyang
Image Credit - yeowatzup

After that, we can see "Goa Gajaha". Elephant cave is the other name for this temple. A river called Elephant river flows near this temple. This temple's key attraction is the face and mouth of the demon. We can see the statues of lord Ganesha, Shiva, Buddha etc here.

Goa Gajaha Bali
Goa Gajaha
Image Credit - Moni

Another popular temple in Bali is "Pura Tanah lot". In Balinese language, this pura is called as "Land Sea". It is located in Tabanan which is 20 kilometer from Bali's capital Denpasar. It was built in the 16th century. Tanah lot stands on a rock some distance from the shore, towering over the sea. This is one of the best spots for watching the sunrise and sunset.

Tanah Lot Temple Bali
Pura Tanah Lot
Image Credit - Bastian Luber

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan is a temple surrounded with lake water and encircled by the greenery of the mountains.. It is serene nature at its best.. This temple is situated on the shores of lake Bratan. It is dedicated to the worship of the goddess of the lake and river, Devi Batari ulun Danu. One of the main point to note for tourists is that most of the temples in Bali have their own dress codes for entry.

Ulun Danu Bratan Bali
Pura Ulun Danu Bratan

Other than these main attractions in the island, we can see many small temples, beaches like Kuta, Nusa Dua, Mount Batur for trekking, have fun with the monkeys in Monkey Forest, coffee plantations, Museums, Terraced Rice Fields, diving adventure etc. Interestingly Bali Island has around 20,000 temples. Bali has got an award for being the best travel and leisure destination. Lastly, Visiting Bali is like entering a beautiful world. There is no doubt about getting a wonderful and blissful experience from the "Isand of the thousands of Puras".

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About the Author: Shree Vidya

Shree Vidya is a journalist who has worked in ETV Kannada and TV9 Kannada.


Bali, Pura Tanah Lot, Ulun Danu Bratan, Besakih Temple, Coral Reef, Goa Gajaha, Ubud, Uluwatu