Monday, July 09, 2018

Pura Besakih

All temples in Bali are Unique and Pura Besakih is different because of its sheer size, area and number of temple structures within its complex.

Kevin, our guide, did mention there are around 23 temples within its complex and each of these temples are for different castes and they have their own festivals, culminating to more than 70 festivals a year.  This is an ancient temple, built a millennium ago, and is open to all castes in Bali, which is rare.

Pura Besakih is also the largest, most Holy Hindu Balinese temple and is referred as "Mother temple of Bali". It gets its name from the village it is located in and is in the slope of Mount Agung, which is an active volcano with its last eruption in November 2017.  It has also wrecked havoc in this area earlier, when it started spewing lava and only Pura Besakih was spared, with the lava coming close to a few meters of the temple.  The Balinese consider this a miracle and attribute it to the power of their deities.
The village road leading to Pura Besakih
We stopped at a tiny town shopping place and Kevin got us to walk into a street that led to Pura Besakih. At one the official looking buildings, ostenbily belonging to the temple, we were given bright silk Sarongs ( we picked blue) and long vibrant umbrellas.  By  then it was beginning to drizzle a bit and we had a cloudy sky threatening to open up anytime. The street itself was scenic with paddies, Mount Agung in the background and lots of greenery.  We loved those typical Balinese village houses on the street.

Babes ( with the bikes we traveled in the background)
That's when Kevin told us something interesting.  Since it is an uphill climb to the temple which is on the slope of a Agung, and large vehicles are not allowed on the street leading to the temple complex, each of will be ferried on a motorcycle to the temple, including Kevin.  As he finished saying this, a group of 5 musketeers on bikes came vrooming in front of us, excitement writ large on their broad smiles, and we rode pillion with those guys up to the temple.

It was fun to wave at one another on those bikes, while those men tried to overtaking  each other (probably to impress us) and we felt literally like school girls as we traveled a short distance to the temple.  And you know what, this whole thing was part of the package. In all that excitement of getting on a bike, we missed taking pictures.  * Sigh*

Babes wrapped in Sarongs with the Pura Besakih in the background
Child hawkers
This is also one place we met few hawkers and sadly all of them were children. As mothers we really felt sad for them. We also had to go with a new guide from the village as external guides like Kevin were not allowed. The new guide was quite reluctant and we couldn't decipher what he was speaking either.

The Candi Bentar of this temple had the largest flight of stairs among all the temples that we visited and we did a lot of stair climbing within the temple complex, although we weren't allowed into the sanctum to offer prayers.  Though Jay wasn't worried, Sudha still reminds me how she asked some people in the temple about she being a Hindu devotee and why she was not allowed in.  We were told that "foreigners are not allowed for worship".
The babes on the largest flight of stairs with the Candi Bentar in the background

Babes and Dwarapalakas draped in Sarongs.  The next day was Nyepi day and the temple gets a festive look
One of the many Meru's at Pura Besakih
The main highlight here for us were the stepped terraces and flights of stairs which ascend to a number of courtyards and brick gateways that in turn lead up to the main spire or Meru structure. There are so many of them made of special grass like material and some of these spires had moss grown extensively on it which made them look even more beautiful.  The multi tiered thatched roofs are the most recognizable feature of the Meru Towers.  The number of roofs is always odd and reflects the status of the deity to whom the shrine is dedicated.  The lowest Meru contains three tiers, while the most prestigious one contains upto 11 tiers.  Pura Besakih is the only temple where we noticed this many Meru towers signifying the importance of the temple.
Look at the number of Meru's at Pura Besakih


  1. Loved the Namaste pose pic on the stairs. Your writing portrays so much of depth and detail. I am an avid fan already. This temple was a 'not to miss' place, glad we covered it and captured it not only in pictures but writing too. Kudos to your effort on juggling the many varied interests you have without compromising on any.
    Side note : I did sneak into the interior courtyard and zoomed in and captured a pic. All were men in white with a turban...

    1. Oh yes Sudha, that's my favorite picture too.

      Thanks for the all the pleasant things you have to say about me. Since, you almost know my entire schedule for the day, it might be overwhelming but yeah i do juggle a lot of stuff. With positive people like you around, I have no dearth for motivation.

      Even today I find it unbelievable that we made four have already made it to two places. I hope the spirits of Bali wouldn't cast their eyes on us.

  2. Here goes the pic 😀

    1. I remember you getting sober that you were not able to do any puja's in the temples and when you saw them you almost got excited and asked Kevin again if you can go in and be part of that.

      Nice picture of the men performing some rituals, all dressed in white.

  3. You have gone serious temple hopping on this trip. And not just a cursory tour - a serious visit complete with understanding its history and significance. Not the normal Bali agenda for most which tend to involve much more of the sea, the sand and the drink !

    Now, please go back to this temple, get back on the motorbike and click a photo. How could you have forgotten that !!!

    And seriously you should have ditched your entire wardrobe and dressed only 9in Sarongs for the whole trip.

    1. yes Ramesh you are right. We have to go back there for that picture. definitely. How could we miss that, with Sudha around?

      unfortunately when we researched about Bali, we thought we could wear long costumes so that we can avoid the Sarongs. But after we had some adorable comments and inquiries about them, we are glad we got to wear them. Where else could you end up with these?

      And we had culture and architecture of Bali in mind when we planned for this trip and hence the visits to the ancient traditional places.

      We have couple of more temple visit blogs coming up - I have managed to coax Sudha into writing another one. (oops sorry about the spoiler)

      But honestly, the details you give when you write a travelogue has been an inspiration for me Ramesh. Dhanyawad!!!


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