9.00: departure from Balam Bali Villa.
9.45: arrival at Tanah Lot.
10.45: departure to Batukaru.
11.30: Batukaru temple visit.
12.30: departure to Jatiluwih rice terraces, lunch.
13.30: tour of the rice fields by car, possiblility to walk in the rice fields.
14.30: departure to Bratan lake.
15.30: visit of the Bratan water temple and the “floating” pagoda.
16.30: visit of Bedugul market.
17.30: arrival at the Villa.
Pura Tanah Lot is a rock formation off the Indonesian island of Bali. It is home of a pilgrimage temple, the Pura Tanah Lot and a popular tourist and cultural icon for photography and general exoticism.
Tanah Lot is claimed to be the work of the 15th century priest Nirartha. During his travels along the south coast he saw the rock island's beautiful setting and rested there. Some fishermen saw him, and bought him gifts. Nirartha then spent the night on the little island. Later he spoke to the fishermen and told them to build a shrine on the rock for he felt it to be a holy place to worship the Balinese sea gods.
The Tanah Lot temple was built and has been a part of Balinese mythology for centuries. The temple is one of seven sea temples around the Balinese coast. Each of the sea temples was established within eyesight of the next to form a chain along the south-western coast. At the base of the rocky island, poisonous sea snakes are believed to guard the temple from evil spirits and intruders. A giant snake purportedly protects the temple, which was created from Nirartha’s scarf when he established the island.
In 1980 the temple’s rock face was starting to crumble and the area around and inside the temple started to become dangerous. The Japanese government then provided a loan to the Indonesia government of Rp 800 billion (approximately USD $130 million) to conserve the historic temple and other significant locations around Bali. As a result, over one third of Tanah Lot's "rock" is actually cleverly disguised artificial rock created during the Japanese-funded and supervised renovation and stabilization program.
The area leading to Tanah Lot is highly commercialized and people are required to pay to enter the area. To reach the temple, visitors must walk through a carefully planned set of Balinese market-format souvenir shops which cover each side of the path down to the sea. We have to live with this, just run! The terrifying commercialisation of the site (what a shame) is the main reason to advise you to go in the morning, when only a few tourists are haunting the place. For sunset, it is just a disaster. When the sun disappears, hundreds (thousands in the summer) of tourists try to leave the parking, creating a total chaos around the temple.
When you face Tanah Lot temple, there is an alley going along the cliff on the right. Follow it, after 300 metres it will bring you to another temple, still in contact with Bali with a rocky arch. The arch unifying Bali and Tanah Lot was already gone in the 19th century.
The excursion finishes with the visit of site of the Batukaru (or Batukau) temple, one of the major temples on the island, at the foot of the Volcano Batukaru. The temple is part of the 6 “direction temples”, situated on the cardinal axis specific to Bali. They are the “Six Temple of the World”, the most sacred temples in Bali, in some ways the pivotal points on which all the cultural and religious Balinese system is built.
These temples are:
After a cremation, the family of the deceased has to do a pilgrimage to all these 6 temples, carrying a very special offering in a silver plate. This offering, very precious, contains a sort of symbol of the dead person. It is a sculpture in the shape of a body, made of flowers and a kind of mask made of sandalwood. At the end of the temple tour, this figure will be buried under the ancestor temple. Should you witness the arrival of Balinese in their Sunday best, filling several trucks, with music instruments and superb offerings, it will be such a ceremony.
The temple is buried in tropical forest, invaded by moss varieties (take care, very slippery soil), giant ferns, bamboo and palm trees. It appears very mysterious. Probably more than 1000 years old, the temple was the victim of a war between 2 kingdoms. Left in ruins, but however visited by the pilgrims, the temple was entirely reconstructed in 1959, and enlarged in 1977. In the most sacred courtyard, you can see several superb meru covered with sugar palm tree black fibres. They are shrines dedicated to the ancestors of the kings of Tabanan and Badung regencies, and to the gods of the air, the water and the plants, the very special trinity called “Tri Candra”.
Before reaching the main courtyard, you have to go through a first courtyard, with superb long houses for pilgrims and ceremony preparations. When you go out of this place, you will see a paved alley, going left to the sacred river, and right to the sacred bathing place. To reach the bathing place, you have to go down the large stairs, which can be very slippery. When you reach the bathing place, you will see as well the sacred lake, artificial, and its island in the centre, with a little shrine. Go around the lake, clockwise. When you reach the opposite corner, you will discover an alley going up again to the parking area. May the renovation of the Batukaru temple give to the Balinese an ecological awareness. Believe in a trinity like the Tri Candra (Air – Water – Plants) does not seem enough for them to respect Nature.
From Batukaru, a picturesque road goes to Jatiluwih and its rice fields. This region is now a listed world heritage site on the famous UNESCO list. The reason are not only the beauty of the rice paddies, but as well the use of traditional agriculture methods (like buffalo to plough), the dedication to the traditional rice, and all the religion festivities around agriculture activities.
The traditional rice is very different from the common rice in Bali. The plant can reach 1 meter height. The ears are cut one by one during the cropping season. From the transplanting of the rice to the cropping, 7 to 8 months are needed, comparing to the 4 months with regular rice. In Jatiluwih, farmers cultivate white, red and black rice. They are mostly used for ritual meals, or for offering for the gods. Red rice is appreciated, when cooked with sugar, as a local dessert. From the road, you can see the life of the farmers if you are there in the period of cropping of transplanting. You can go in the rice field to observe the irrigation systems. Walk on the narrow tracks, but be careful not to destroy them..
This temple shares with that of Tanah Lot the glory of being the most photographed site in Bali. Few visitors in fact stop at the temple itself, along the lake, although they rush to the pagoda isolated on a small island, some metres away from the waterside. The meru arises from an island symbolising the tortoise supporting the world. Four frogs adorn the corners of the island.
This temple is dedicated to the goddess of the lake waters, Dewi Danu. This is indeed one of the major water temples of the island, which, along with that of Batur, remains at the summit of the irrigation system and provides wealth by grace of the gods. At a certain angle, you might catch a glimpse of the Hindu temple of Bratan, a Buddhist stupa, and the dome of a Mosque, illustrating a significant Balinese specificity, that of a pacific multi-religious coexistence by the grace of the gods.
The mountain region in the vicinity of Bedugul abounds with fruit and vegetable plantations unable to take the lowland heat. Here at over 1000 metres in altitude, the climate suits cultivating strawberries, coffee, salad, tomatoes and many other vegetables. The king fruit of these mountains is the mangosteen, something like a small hard apple, dark red to black. When split open, its heart reveals one of the most flavourful fruits of the planet. Its white pulp (one of the quarters will contain the kernel) is known to all lovers of exotic fruit visiting Bali, although this fruit remains unknown in the West. These heights are also a favoured territory for passion fruit. The Bedugul market abounds with these fruits alongside a variety of souvenirs including false Rolex watches, all under Muslim control, and the traders are both amusing and frightfully astute in business. Haggling and negotiation remain on the agenda of the day!