38: Indonesia > Bali > Besakih Pura Agung

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Late morning, 22nd August 2007. The uphill road to Besakih is narrow and wooded, and desolate.

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Upon arriving, we leave the car at the carpark, and take a 400m uphill walk. Reminds me of my recent Kinabalu climb.

CAUTION: You only need to pay official entrance fee to enter Besakih, just ignore the bunch of guys next to the carpark introducing themselves as ‘guardians’ of the temple complex; they are out to fleece foreigners. Read scam story HERE.


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This is why people come to Besakih – it houses a complex of puras deemed as ‘agung’, the most sacred of them all in Dharma Hinduism. Perched 1000m up the slope of dormant volcano Mt Agung, it traces back to 8th century, thus easily eclipsing most other major sacred sites in Southeast Asia.

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This is the main pura, the most sacred of them all, dedicated to Shiva, called Pura Penataran Agung.

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A group with offerings climb up the pura for prayers.

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As usual, real guardians, not the tourist-fleecing type.

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Ubiquitous notices at puras – entry only for prayers.

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At a side entrance, I peep at a session in progress.
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Mighty towers of main pura, roofs thatched with leaves from ijok, a type of palm tree.

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In an inner courtyard, another prayer in session, with a senior pendeta (priest) in attendance.

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Interesting headgear and garb.

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Outside, a minor pura.

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Intricate structures in pura, with ijok roofs.

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Further up the slope, another major pura – Pura Batu Madeg, dedicated to Vishnu. If the weather is clear, summit of Mt Agung (3143m, dormant volcano, last erupted 1963, 1148 people died) should be somewhere in the background.

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I glance back at the guys loitering outside Shiva’s pura. Low white clouds spoil the scene.

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Another view inside the main pura.

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Walls separate one ancient pura from the other …

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… with footpaths giving access to every nook and cranny.

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There are more than 30 puras in this complex, built between 8th and 11th centuries.

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This 3rd major pura – Pura Kiduling Kreteg – is for Brahma.

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Interior of a minor pura. Note the Balinese script, which to me looks like Malayalam (see HERE).

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Again, sentries dressed up in sacred colours.

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Just imagine how traffic here was during the hey-days, say 900 years ago?

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Compound of another pura.

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As we leave Besakih, another group of devotees arrive …

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… to make the arduous climb up the pura agung. Every able Bali Hindu must make at least one pilgrimage here, so Besakih is going to be in business for a long time to come. I hope the tourist-fleecing ‘guardians’ won’t.

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To be continued …

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