Bali – Scenery and natural wonders
Things to Do: Scenery and natural wonders
- Outdoor Sports & Nature
- History and culture
- Dining out (1
- Entertainment and amusement
This sacred temple perched on the shore is aptly named, as “tanah” means earth and “lot” means sea.
This 11th-century cave is entered through the carved mouth of a demon.
This crystal clear lake, some 65 meters deep, was formed by an ancient volcanic eruption.
Bali is a small Island in the Indian Ocean between the islands of Java (32.5 Km of distance) and Lombock (35 Km of distance). It is one of the provinces of the Republic of Indonesia. The capital of the island is the city of Denpasar which is located in the south of the island. Bali has about 3.5 millions people and almost 80 % of this population is Hindu. Bali is also known as the Island of the Thousand Temples because of the incredible number of wonderful religious sanctuaries that exist in the island like Besakih, Batur, Uluwatu, etc.
Bali is a strait volcanic island surrounded by coral reefs and beautiful white sand beaches, whose most famous peak is the Mount Agung, a volcano of 3142 meters height, which erupted for last time in 1963. Because of its position very near Equatorial line, the island has a tropical climate. The temperatures in Bali are very agreeable; they fluctuates between 27ºC (80 ºF) and 32ºC (90 ºF), being the average humidity around 75%. There are only two seasons, dry (from May to September) and wet (from October to April). The dry season is without doubt the best time to visit the island. During the wet seasons there are several days with sunshine; but, it is also the period of monsoons.
Together the tourism, the main economical activity of Bali is the agriculture. Because of the volcanic soil and the monsoon torments, the lands of the island are very fertile. Therefore the island is full of terraced rice fields which are a wonder themselves. The main species cultivated in Bali are coffee, vegetables, copra and rice (the main cultivation).
Besides, Bali is an ecological paradise. The Bali Baart National Park hosts around 280 different species of birds and several other species of animals including the Bali Starling (an endangered bird), leopard cat, several species of monkeys, amongst others. Unfortunately the Bali tiger was extinct in the 1930s because of the irresponsible human hunt.
The human history in Bali began around 3000 BC, when the first inhabitants of Bali arrived to the island from Asia. There are not vestiges of any important civilization in Bali until the first century, when the influence of the Hindu culture over Bali began. Nevertheless, it knows that Bali was a busy trade point since 200 BC.
The Hindu influence arrived with more strength to Bali since the IX century, as has been recorded in inscriptions made in bronze that dates from that time. Some of the oldest temples of Bali were constructed in this time. Bali was long time under the control of the Java Kingdom, mainly during the XI century in the government of the Javanese king Airlanga (1019- 1042) whose death marked a brief period of independence to Bali. However, in 1284 the Bali Island was conquered by Kertanegara the king of Singasari. Later the Hindu Majapahit Empire of Java founded a colony in Bali around 1343. Once the empire declined, the main intellectuals, artists and priests of Java migrated to Bali in the XV century, starting a period of splendor to the culture in Bali.
Europeans arrived for first time to Bali at the end of the XVI century; when the Dutch explorer Cornelis de Houtman arrived in 1597. Dutch step by step were controlling the entire Indonesian archipelago, mainly in the XIX century, including Bali which became a Dutch colony in 1840, when the Dutch got the control of the island taking advantage of the infighting amongst small Balinese kingdoms. Nevertheless, Balinese citizens revealed several times against the European invaders, causing many deaths amongst the Balinese people.
After the Japanese occupation of the island in the World War II, Bali became a province of the Indonesia Republic, after a bloody rebellion against the Dutch army, but the Island maintains even today a own culture, a evidence of this cultural independence is the religion. In Bali the dominant religion is Hinduism while in the rest of Indonesia the Islam predominates.
The boom of the tourism in Bali started in 1930s thanks to several western intellectuals who created a magic image of the Island which attracted many tourists of Western. Since then, tourism has become one of the main economic activities in Bali. This island is considered the most diverse and beautiful tourist point of Asia. Therefore, despite some periods of low flow of tourists, like in 1963 when the eruption of the Mount Agung caused many deaths or as in the last years because of the terrorist attacks by Islamic fundamentalists; this amazing island full of wonders attracts every year around one million tourists. The island owns an excellent tourist infrastructure which includes an international airport that receives flights from the main cities of the world, luxury hotels and nice restaurants.
Anyway, Bali is today one of the most important tourist destinations of the planet, because of the great number of amazing places that offers to the visitors such as the endless wonderful temples, the marvelous beaches, the fascinating culture and the hospitable people.
Temples of Bali, Indonesia
Bali is known as the Island of the Gods. This paradisiacal Islands has and endless number of Hindu temples, each one more beautiful than the other
Wonder type: Man-made Wonder National Wonder
Bali is a beautiful Island in Indonesia known as the “Island of the Thousand Temples” or the “Island of the Gods”, because of the great number of wonderful Hindu temples there are in the Island. It says that Bali has more temples than houses. Each village of Bali has several temples. Besides, each home in the Island has its own small temple. All Bali temples have a special orientation from the mountains and the sea.
Usually the temples of Bali are ornamented with an impressive and intricate set of carvings, mainly on the gateways. Besides, almost always a couple of magnificent stone statues are always saving the temples.
According to the Balinese tradition, the temples are the point of meeting amongst the humans and the gods. The temples are specially considered during some festival days or in the “odalan” (temple anniversaries). In these dates the temples are decorated to praise the gods. The word in Sanskrit for temple is “Pura”, which means “space surrounded by walls”.
In Bali each thing or activity has its own temple, there are village temples, family temples, rice fields temples, temples for animals, etc. Nevertheless the bigger Hindu temples on Bali are used only in special occasions. Most temples of Bali can be classified into these categories: Pura Puseh (origin temples), which are the most important and are reserved to the founders of villages (Balinese are worshipers of their ancestors). Pura Desa dedicated to protector spirits that guard the villagers. Pura Dalem (dead temple), where is venerate Durga the Shiva’s wife and deity of the dark and destruction. Besides, there are several temples dedicated to the spirits that protect the agriculture, these temples are known as Pura Subak
However, there are around 50 largest temples and only some of them are considered the most important of Bali, amongst them are:
• Pura Tanah Lot, it is an impressive temple near the village of Beraban to 13 Km of Tabanan. The temple is suspended on a huge black volcanic rock in middle of the sea. The temple has only one tower and it is decorated by foliage spilling over the cliffs. The image of this temple remembers a beautiful Japanese bonsai. Tanah Lot like most sea temples of Bali is dedicated to the guardian spirits of the sea. According to the chronicles this wonderful temple was constructed by the priest Nirartha in the XIV century. It can walk to the temple only when the tide is low. This temple is opened only to Hindus and is closed for tourists.
• Pura Besakih, it is the most important and holiest temple of Bali. It was originally dedicated to the god Gunung Agun (the mountain) since pre historical times. Currently the temple is a religious complex composed by around thirty sanctuaries; most of them were constructed between XIV and XVII centuries. An important feature of the temple is the great number of Merus (wooden buildings with pagodas as roofs). This temple was also a center of political power, between I and V centuries, the temple was the palace of the Geigel- Kiungkung dynasty. Now this temple is considered the “Mother Temple” of Bali and is very respected by all Bali citizens. The paramount sanctuary of the temple is the Pura Panataran Agung. The main inside patio hosts the Trisakti shrine, which is dedicated to the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Visnu and Siwa , which is very honored during the festivals that is also the most amazing time to visit the temple .
• Pura Kehen, it is located at the south slope of Bangli hill, is one of the oldest temples of Bali. The temple saves some ancient manuscripts made on bronze. This sanctuary is the second largest temple of Bali. There are three patios in the temple, which are decorated with statues, wonderful carvings and are connected by stairs. Pura Kehen was founded in the XI century by Cri Brahma Kenuti Ketu. One of the most representative elements of the temple is old Banyan tree that is in the second courtyard.
• Pura Ulun Danu Batur, it is located in the Batur village in the Kintamani district. It is the second most important temple of Bali after Pura Besakih. The temple is situated in a beautiful location at the Batur Lake at the foot of the Gunung Batur Volcano. The religious complex is composed by nine sanctuaries dedicated to Hindu gods like the goddess of the Batur lake, Dewei Danu or the God of the mountain Batu. The original temple was built in the XI century; unfortunately it was destroyed by a volcanic eruption in 1926. The current temple was reconstructed by the local people and has a notorious Chinese influence in its architectonic style.
• Pura Uluwatu, it is another wonderful temple that combines perfectly the human art with the beauty of the nature. It is located at the western of the Bukit Peninsula. The temple is constructed at the top of a cliff 90 meters over the sea. There are not accurate registers about the age of this temple, but it is one of the most ancient of Bali. Pura Uluwatu like Tanah Lot is dedicated to the sea deities. The access to the temple is only allowed one at a time. Pura Ulawatu has three inner courts which are surrounded by coral stone. Besides, both the front and the inside halls are ornamented with stylized birds.
There are many other temples in Bali such as Lempuyang, Goa Lawah, Makori, Watukaru, Jagadnahata, Maospahit, Tirta Empul, Pengerebogan, Andakasa, Masceti, Sakenan, Dalem, Ubud’s Pura Taman Saraswati,etc. All of them are great architectural gems and each one has something unique to offer. Therefore the countless and amazing temples of Bali are considered all together, one of the great man-made wonders.
The Island of Bali was initially inhabited for people from the Maritime Southeast Asia. But the greatest cultural influence arrived from India since the first century AD. Oldest temples of Bali were constructed from 913 AD such as Pura Ulun Danu Batur, Pura Kehen, Gunungkawi, amongst other.
The Hindu influence in Bali was major between 1293 and 1520 when the Hindu Majapahit Empire founded a colony in Java; but when this colony declined; the intellectual and political elite migrate to Bali, further consolidate the Hindu influence in the region. Temples like Tanah Lot were built in this historical period, during which, many Hindu priests arrived to Bali.
At the beginning of the XVI century began a period of cultural independence in Bali because of the Migration of the Majapahit Empire towards east. During this time several other temples were constructed in Bali, but with an style some different. Several parts of the Besakih temple, were built in this period as well as the Sangeh Monkey Sanctuary.
Now, the temples of Bali are still important places of worship. Most temples of the Island are scenario every year of colorful religious festivals. Usually people carry offerings to the temple to honoring the three gods of the Hindu trilogy. These offerings consist of palm leafs, flowers and foodstuffs. All these offerings represent in the Hindu cosmology to Siwa (Shiva), whereas the holy water represents to Wisnu and the incense represents to Brahama. The temples of Bali have still a very important role in the historical development of the region.