Bali's Mother Temple, Where all the amazing story begins
Besakih Temple, on the south-western slopes of Mount Agung, is known as Bali's'mother temple.' It is a vast complex with at least 86 clan temples and shrines. Each shrine has its own anniversary, therefore there are at least 70 festivals in Besakih every year. Bali's Besakih Temple is the largest and holiest of the island's temples. Its great elevation provides breathtaking views of the area, including rice farms, hills, mountains, and streams. It can take a day to explore the entire property. Pura Besakih is the only temple that welcomes devotees of all castes.
Visiting the temple sanctuaries of Besakih is a unique trip for the Balinese. The location of Mount Agung lends it a mythical quality. Several flights of stairs lead up to the sacred mountaintop, where temples of various types, status, and function can be found.
Three significant temples dedicated to the Hindu trinity may be seen in Pura Besakih. Pura Penataran Agung (center) has white banners for Shiva, the destroyer; Pura Kiduling Kreteg (right) has red banners for Brahma, the creation; and Pura Batu Madeg has black banners for Vishnu, the preserver. Many more minor temples in Pura Besakih can be visited, albeit many of its inner courtyards are only accessible to pilgrims.
Besakih Temple's History
Pura Batu Madeg has a center stone that indicates that the Pura Besakih area has been revered as a sacred site from ancient times. During his isolation in the eighth century, a Hindustani monk received revelations to build shelters for humanity. Many of his followers perished as a result of illness and accidents during this time. It was given the name 'Basuki' after the dragon deity 'Naga Besukian,' who is said to live atop Mount Agung. Eventually, the name became 'Besakih.'
During the Majapahit Empire's conquest of Bali in 1343, other shrines were gradually established, and Pura Besakih was appointed the major temple. After earthquakes in 1917 and Mount Agung's sequence of eruptions in 1963, the complex has undergone multiple repairs. Pura Besaki was spared by the lava flow, according to residents, because the gods wished to show their strength without entirely destroying the holy complex.
Highlights and features of Besakih Temple
Pura Penataran Agung, the complex's main temple, is divided into seven sections that reflect the seven strata of the universe, each having its own shrine. Pura Pasimpangan is located downstream (east of the main thoroughfare), whereas Pura Pangubengan is located upstream. The distance between these shrines is around 3 kilometers.
Pura Pangubengan is the closest temple to Mount Agung's peak and is roughly a 30-minute walk from the major Pura Penataran Agung. Pura Batu Tirtha is located east of Pura Pangubengan. It is from here that holy water for the karya agung ceremonies at Pura Besakih and the surrounding communities is derived.
The complex's four temples represent the four deities that rule their respective compass points. Pura Batu Madeg is located in the north, Pura Kiduling Kreteg is located in the south, Pura Gelap is located in the east, and Pura Ulun Kulkul is located in the west.
The centre stone, known as batu ngadeg, is housed at the shrine of Meru Tumpang Sebelas at Pura Batu Madeg. Vishnu is said to have descended at this location. The Pesamuan temple (quadrangular-shaped with two lines of 16 poles) is located in the courtyard of Pura Batu Madeg, in front of Meru Tumpang Sebelas, and shows how Vishnu's might interacts with the world.
Pura Peninjoan is a 20-minute walk northwest along a footpath to the valley and along a river. Built on a small hill, it gives stunning views of Pura Penataran Agung's shrines, the coast, and southern Bali in the distance. Pura Ulun Kulkul, to the west, is home to the island's most valuable kulkul (Balinese wooden slit gong). A kulkul is a signaling device used to summon or communicate important information.
Pura Merajan Selonding, on the northern side of Pura Ulun Kulkul, is where the 'Bredah' inscription commemorates a ruler in Besakih. It also has a collection of antique Selonding gamelan. The dragon goddess lives in Pura Gua, which is located on the eastern side of the main roadway. Although the mouth of a large cave in the river's east canyon has been closed owing to erosion, people still practice yoga there on occasion.
Pura Jenggala, located southwest of Pura Penataran Agung, is also known to locals as Pura Hyang Haluh. South of the temple are the 'Setra Agung' burial grounds. Sacred and old stone statues in the shape of the mythical Garuda bird can be found here. Pura Basukian Puseh Jagat is situated southeast of Pura Penataran Agung, Pura Besakih's main foundation.
What You Should Know About the Besakih Temple
Pura Dalem Puri, Pura Basukian, and Pura Penataran Agung are the mother of all village's temples Pura Puseh, Pura Desa, and Pura Dalem. Religious literature describing how a temple should be built can be found in their shrines.
Besakih becomes a congested tourist trap throughout the day, with self-proclaimed 'temple guards,' touts, hawkers, and more. Remember to dress appropriately with a decent shirt, sarong, and sash. Early morning and late evening are the best times to visit because the complex is significantly quieter during these times.
With their symmetrically patterned traditional Batik shirts, the official guides are clearly identified. The service is not free, but it is also not prohibitively expensive given the size of the complex. It is not necessary to engage a guide for tours of the complex.
Rentable sarongs and sashes are available. You may also buy them outside at one of the many stalls, and haggling is encouraged. Besakih Temple does not allow women who are on their period to enter. Outside of the official hours, it is highly recommended that you travel with local companions.
Take the Kusamba Bypass to Klungkung to reach there from Sanur. To get to Besakih, travel north through Klungkung and turn right at Menanga. The trip from Sanur should only take about 2.5 hours.