Temple’s of Bali

The culture of Bali is unique. It is different from the rest of Indonesia due to the religion it follows. 80% of the Indonesian population is Muslim, but most people in Bali follow Balinese-Hinduism. Through their religion, people participate in many different ceremonies throughout their lifetimes. These various ceremonies mark a person’s journey through life with color and celebration.

Ulun Danu Temple

Ulun Danu Temple

When you are in Bali, you will find a lot of Pura also known as temples, around Bali. It is inseparable from their religious rituals. Temples are the most omnipresent architecture in Bali. Just like in the rice fields, it has shrines dedicated to Dewi Sri, Goddess of rice and every house in Bali has its own little shrines. For the people of Bali, temples are not to be worshipped but instead they function as an enjoyable resting place for the gods on their stay on Bali Island.

Taman Ayun Temple

Taman Ayun Temple


Many numbers of Pura / temples have been built in Bali and has given Bali to its famous nickname “the Island of a Thousand Temples”. In this chance, I’d like to show you the 2 most known temples in Bali that I think is worth visiting when you’re around.

1. Pura Besakih

It is the largest, the most important, and the holiest temple in Bali. It is known as the Mother Temple of Besakih. It is placed on the slope of Mount Agung in East Bali. Mount Agung is also the tallest mountain and holiest site in all of Bali These extensive construction joins 23 separate temples which some of them has been there since the 10th century. In 1963, the temple narrowly escaped destruction by a devastation Mount Agung’s eruption (It was thought to have been saved by the gods).

Besakih Temple with Mount Agung in the background

Besakih Temple with Mount Agung in the background

Entrance to Besakih Temple

Entrance to Besakih Temple

Besakih Temple

Besakih Temple

When you have arrived in Besakih temple, you will be amazed by how stunning and beautiful the panorama there. You can see the cool atmosphere all the way to the ocean and Mount Agung as the backdrop. The temple is very famous and it is visited by thousand of people around the world, both for the religious purpose and tourist attraction. To reach the temple complex, you have to walk up a footpath for approximately 200 meters…Yes…it sounds exhausting, but you’ll enjoy it as on both sides of the path, you will find beautiful views and feel the breeze from the ocean. For some people, they can’t stand the walk, so the locals saw this as a business opportunity. Whoever has a motorbike, they will rent it out to the tourists 🙂


Pagoda Tower in Pura Besakih

Pagoda Tower in Pura Besakih

To visit Besakih Temple, people are expected to dress properly. For example, men must cover their legs with sarong and women must wear sleeve top. If you don’t happen to have sarong when you’re around, there is a place to rent for sarongs at the entrance of each temple.

2. Tanah Lot

This temple is located in Kabupaten Tabanan, 30KM from Denpasar city. It is built on the rock with 3-acre size towering over the sea and it is only a few minutes by walk, because it’s only 20 meters away from the coastal lip. But if you want to go into the temple, it is only accessible by foot at low tide. The temple of Tanah Lot is said to have been founded on the 16th-century by priest Nirartha, one of the last priests to come to Bali from Java.

Tanah Lot Temple

Tanah Lot Temple

Sunset View from Tanah Lot

Sunset View from Tanah Lot

Tanah Lot means the small island floating on the sea. At some corner of coral reef, you can find a snake in black and white color, where Balinese people believe that is gods property and act as the guard of the temple from the bad energy. Although these snakes are tame, make sure you still have to be cautious and avoid doing annoying things to these reptiles and don’t wander off alone.

Praying at Tanah Lot temple

Praying at Tanah Lot temple

Balinese Hindu devotees gather on the Tanah Lot temple near Tabanan on Indonesia's resort island of Bali for the celebration of the temple anniversary, May 29, 2010.

Looks like a ship don't you think?

Looks like a ship don’t you think?

The structure of Tanah Lot temple is built at irregular reef plain of its angle, which is only consisted of one plain yard as Jeroan. The temple as a whole is dedicated to the god of the sea. Local fishermen pray to get fish and prosperity. The most popular time to visit Tanah Lot is late afternoon when the sun begins to settle over the horizon and the temple is silhouetted against the exciting glow of the blue sky (ooohh how I miss it so much).

So guys, I hope you really enjoy reading my blogs and don’t forget to visit Bali 🙂

Bali’s oldest & complex rice terrace agriculture

Hello again guys… We’re only 3 weeks away until the end of semester. Am pretty sure everyone is loaded with assignments 😦 Hang on there, it’ll be over soon. As for now, see the beautiful picture below and use your imagination to take your mind away to serene place where you can enjoy cool breeze and green surroundings and slowly relieve your stress just by staring at it.

Bali Rice Terrace

Bali Rice Terrace

Simply beautiful

Simply beautiful

This beautiful panorama is known as rice terraces. When you’re in Bali and bored with all the crowded places, Rice Terraces is a must visit place. Not only it’s beautiful, it will also take your breath away.

Let’s check this before we go further

The Balinese rice terraces go back over 2000 years when hard-working farmers with prehistoric hand tools started carving the stepped terraces out of steep hill sides. Through different generations, rice terrace has been extended and maintained in careful shape out of necessity. Bali’s steep mountains and deep gorges make wet rice farming difficult, so the Balinese have developed a complex system of terraced rice fields, managed by a subak (water sharing community). It is such an important part of Balinese culture that in June 2012 it was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status. This irrigating land method was inspired by an ancient Hindu philosophy in the 11th century. Using this method, the rice terraces were built around temples and the allocation of water is the priests’ responsibility from each community. It is very important for each community to work closely together to maintain this complex irrigation system.

For Balinese people, rice is more than just a staple food, it is an essential part of the Balinese culture too. The rituals of the cycle of planting rice, maintaining, irrigating, and harvesting rice also enhance the cultural life of Bali. Rice has 3 names: when still in the fields its called ‘Padi’, when its in the sack, it’s called ‘Beras’, and when its ready to be eaten, it’s called ‘Nasi’. Balinese people believe that ‘Dewi Sri’, the Goddess of rice must be honored and that’s why there are shrines that are set up in every rice fields / terraces with neatly presented flowers, fruit, and offerings to respect her. Furthermore, ceremonies are held before planting the rice, throughout growing rice time, and at harvesting rice and presented offerings for Dewi Sri.

There is a sacred place on the rice fields and that is on the upstream corner of the rice fields. Right here is where most offerings are made to ‘Dewi Sri’ and during harvest time, Balinese people make a sacred image of ‘Dewi Sri’ herself from rice that grows closes to this spot. This rice is not to be eaten but people will carry it to the rice barn and given offerings.

Now, I’d like to give you ideas of where to see this amazing rice terraces. There are many of rice terraces around Bali, but I’ll give you guys some place that I think is best and convenient to go.

1. Tegalalang – It is located in the north of Ubud on the right road leading towards Kintamani. The rice terraces are not very large but exotic. The rice terraces views are in the valley located in a kilometer stretch along the road are a tourist place. You will know when you have arrived due to numerous tourist transports on the side of the road. Rice terrace here is most frequently visited by tourists because of the location is very close with other tourist attractions, eg: Ubud, Gunung Kawi, and Taro Elephant Park. You can also sit on a café there while enjoying the panorama of rice fields.

2. Jatiluwih – It is located in the region of Tabanan. It’s about 1 -2 hours drive from the city, Denpasar. I think this place has shown us one of Bali’s oldest and most complex examples of the Subak rice terrace system of agriculture. When traveling the road from north of Tabanan to jatiluwih, you will see the most famous rice terraces on the island with the background of Mount Batukaru. It’s very surreal!!!  There is Jatiluwih café located in the area, but there are also some smaller restaurants around for you guys ti sit and relax.

So guys, schedule your holiday, pack up you bag, bring your camera and make sure you visit this splendid view of rice terraces Bali has offered for the world.

Celebration of death

Hi guys… I’m back again and this time I’d like to bring you through to another Balinese religious ceremony that I think is really appealing for us to explore. Bali has many religious rituals, and one of them is Nyepi Day, which I wrote about on my first blog. The ritual I’ll go through with you today is called Ngaben known as cremation ceremony.

According to Balinese beliefs, Ngaben is the last and most important ceremony of every Balinese individual. It is the cremation ceremony to send the dead through the transition to his next life (reincarnated). Balinese people believe, through this cremation, the physical body is returned to its 5 natural elements, which consist of: tanah (earth), api (fire), air (water), udara (air) and akasa (ether). These 5 natural elements are given to the people as the home for the human soul from the Creator. So when somebody dies, these elements must be returned to in order to release the soul to eternal life.

It takes a lot of time to prepare Ngaben ceremony. Sometime it could take up to 2 to 3 months or more and it also require a lot of money. For most people, to undertake this ceremony individually can be pretty expensive, so the alternative way is for the people in one village to hold a cremation ceremony together at one time. It doesn’t lessen the vital meaning of the ceremony. It just makes it more affordable for the people.

There are 3 major events that take place before and after Ngaben:

1. The Funeral: The body is placed into the earth by burial

After a person dies, the body is cremated straight away. The deceased is then buried inside Pura Dalem, known as ‘the temple of the dead’. From the burial time until Ngaben ritual, it is a very sad time for the family, as the Balinese believe that the soul is not able to reach to heaven yet before completing Ngaben (cremation). Sadly, sometime the duration between the funeral and Ngaben may take up to few years due to the financial position of the family. When family has enough funding and preparations have been thoroughly made, consult the priest for the appropriate date to determine Ngaben in order to release the soul of the deceased to heaven.

2. The Cremation (Ngaben) : the ‘radiance’ is released by burning with fire

During this time, the preparations are always set to the best. Best priest is called upon and the holiest water is used followed with the most appropriate date for the cremation. Various preparations take place before Ngaben: 3 days before the cremation, the body is taken out from its temporary grave ‘temple of the dead’ to be carried out to the former house. Many complex rituals are held during this 3 days period.

Ngaben is viewed as a joyful occasion because the soul of the deceased is now ready to carry on its journey to heaven followed by reincarnation. During this time, large funding is needed to make sure all the preparations are perfectly set. On the day of the Ngaben, the body is brought back to the temple of the dead inside a funeral tower that is made out of wood and bamboo. Balinese community will then create an incredible tower full with bright color decorations with a height that can go up to 10m high. In the past, the tower can go higher than 10m but not in today’s infrastructure due to many electricity cables hanging over the streets 😦

The tower’s base is made out of bamboo poles so that group of men can carry out the tower on their shoulders to be brought back to the temple. During this time, the men often make a circle or a twist with the tower while walking. This is just to make sure that the deceased doesn’t find his/her way back home (to confuse them I suppose 🙂 )

In front of the parade, another group of men will carry the sarcophagus; normally it is a form of a black bull. I think it’s a really grand construction because they often use a lot of gold as their decorations and large construction of bamboo and woods. When the bull and the tower have arrived at the temple, the body is then moved inside the bull (there’s an opening behind the bull to place the body).  The priest will carry out the final rituals by sprinkling holy water on the bull and offerings are placed for the gods. Then the sarcophagus is set on fire in order to purify the deceased. The white ashes of the bones are separated from the others and then places with flowers into yellow and white cloth.

3. The purification of the soul: Throwing the ashes into the water

After Ngaben ritual, the final ceremony normally takes place 12 days after cremation. The priest along with the families and village community will carry out the remaining ashes that are placed on a beautiful construction to the sea. The ashes are then placed in the water. From here, the Balinese people believe that the soul can follow the final stage of reincarnation.

Here’s a video I’ve uploaded of one of the Royal cremation in Bali. This is considered as a gigantic Ngaben celebration as the deceased was the King of Peliatan.

Journey that touches all your senses

There are many interesting and famous things that you can experience in Bali, like the beaches, temples, and the people and culture it self. But one thing that touches all your senses is the traditional Balinese food made from traditional ingredients.

Balinese cooking rotates around many spices, regularly paired by coconut milk that adds a rich flavor and creamy texture to this dish of tropical vegetables, poultry, meat and fish. The most common ingredients used are also sugar and aromatic roots, which give the end result very delicious and tasty.

Rice is the basis of any Indonesian meal. Normally, rice is taken first and accompanied with small portion of 3 or 4 dishes of veggies and/or meat known as lauk. These lauk are then put in the middle of the table for everyone to share.

You can still find many Balinese foods in every restaurant hotels or restaurant alone, but the best place for Bali food is a place where you find the Balinese crowd eating. Balinese foods are typically not difficult to make but it just takes a lot of time to prepare, because the traditional Balinese food contains a lot of traditional spices and herbs and people cook in a slow fire to make sure all the ingredients are absorbed into the meats, which gives that rich taste and appetizing aroma.

If you guys ever visit Bali, make sure you try Nasi Campur (Mix rice). It’s one of the famous traditional Balinese foods and it for sure will make you extremely full!!! It is a steamed rice or yellow rice on plate mixed with vegetables with shredded spicy coconut, few shreds of fried/dry curry chicken, meat or fish, fried nuts, and last but not least is sambal – hot traditional chili sauce. When restaurants serve nasi campur, they usually choose the sides for you. It is funner if you eat in warungs (the more local street food type places in Bali) because you can choose your own toppings. This is what I have almost everyday when I am home.

You can find nasi campur in many places around Bali but I think the best one are at these 2 places:

Warung Yogya – This place has many Indonesian foods, but the best one is their nasi campur. You can choose your own topping to have with your rice.

Nasi Pedas Ibu Andika – Nasi is rice, pedas is spicy, ibu is madam, and so it’s called Madam Andika’s spicy rice. This place is only offer nasi campur and you can also choose your own topping. They are also very famous for their chili sauce called ‘Sambal Setan’, which means Spicy devil. DO NOT TRY this chili sauce if you can’t even stand a little bit of spicy in your food. It will ruin your night, as you will marry your toilet 😦

Another Balinese food you must try is Bebek Betutu. It is made from chicken or duck, chopped or not, and filled up with spices such as salam leaf, turmeric, ginger, galangal, kencur, garlic, onion, and chilies inside (All these herbs are an everyday ingredients to be used in daily cooking for traditional Balinese food). You can find many of bebek betutu in restaurants around Bali. Some hotel restaurants will advise you to order it a day in advance, because it takes hours to prepare. Again, the best one I think is at Bebek Bengil restaurant in Ubud. Bebek Bengil means dirty duck. When you’re here, make sure to also try their famous crispy duck. It is sooo crispy and delicious.

Another real Balinese food is the Satay Lilit. It is made out of snapper filet, prawns, coconut and different kinds of herbs. The seafood sate sold in Bali has beautiful distinct flavours. Instead of being covered in rich sweet peanut sauce, it is served plain, fresh off the grill without any sauce. A lot of restaurants serve this dish so when you see it on the menu, don’t forget to try.

So guys, now you can experience some of the real traditional Balinese food above… trust me, it’s delicious and worth to try!!!