8 h 30 : departure from Balam Bali Villa.
9 h 30 : Visit of Tirta Empul.
10 h 30 : departure to Mount Batur, down inside the crater..
12 h 00 : lunch at the Hot Spring restaurant & Bath in hot water springs..
14 h 00 : departure to Gunung Kawi.
15 h 30 : visit of the temple of Gunung Kawi.
16 h 30 : return to the Villa..
17 h 30 : arrival at the Villa, or drop in Ubud..
Although occupation of the site may be traced back to a thousand years, the present temple is relatively recent. All Bali regularly converges on Tirta Empul to bathe fully dressed in the temple’s sacred waters provided by two ablution pools. Remain prudent in photographic ambitions and you will be permitted to bathe with the appropriate measure of sincerity manifested towards the Hindu religion. Don't forget to buy offerings and bathe rather in long shorts or sarong than in bathing suit.
These rituals are to a certain extent the Bali version of the Ganges purification rites practised by Indian Hindus. The reflection of the sacred river emulated here scarcely exceeds a few metres in depth. If you should in fact venture to the end of the brick quadrilateral enclosure found just upstream of the baths, you will see the spectacular gushing of the sacred sprin: its bubbling stirs up the black sand around an expanse of aquatic grass and algae. Visitors leave with vessels of sacred water, for their own devotions in household temples, and in order to bless the daily offerings made by the Balinese.
The temple is very active even further upstream. Do not hesitate to pass the gate and observe the highly choreographed and codified gestures of prayer: with the flower, without the flower, with blessed water, then with rice. Pray yourself if you feel like it, you will not shock a soul, and the priest in white will spray you with holy water. You will have no difficulty finding a Balinese to teach you the gestures. This temple is particularly active un Sundays and days of full-moon.
On top of the hill still resides the luxury villa where Suharto would open his windows on the host of beautiful young girls bathing below. Since the dictator’s death, the villa has become a residence for Heads of State.
This excursion should not begin too late, in order to be sure of maximum visibility to reach Mount Batur, which rapidly disappears amid clouds. To avoid increasingly misty conditions with the heat of the day, we take you to this sacred mountain directly. In volcanic terms this site is indeed impressive.
The Batur is a volcano topped with an immense ‘caldera’, a giant crater caused by an explosion or collapse of the magmatic chamber (80 000 years ago). The crater is 13 km in diameter! It is edged by a cliff, part of which may be travelled with the car. At a specific point, the lip of the crater culminates at 2151 metres (mount Abang): it is higher than the actual Mount Batur situated inside the caldera. A solid day’s walk is entailed for completing the route on foot. Slightly towards to the West, a new volcano has invaded this giant crater, the present Mt. Batur, rising at 1412 metres, a volcano within the volcano.
The walk down inside the crater is particularly impressive. A picturesque and sinuous road descends into the caldera, for the third part occupied by the Lake Batur. You will see the special farming, mostly vegetables from cold latitudes, like onions, cabbages and even strawberries, on your way to the hot water springs.
These realizations have been led by the community of the inhabitants of the caldera, who built several pools and baths, along with a restaurant right on the shore of the lake, facing a splendid view. They are by far Bali's best hot water springs. The pools will offer you the possibility to swim in water at 38°C transported by bamboo pipes. They are all made of lava flagstones. The food is honorable. Entrance fees are 10 USD for adults and 5 for children. These baths will clean your body and soul: this is indeed sacred water! For your lunch, you can have fish coming from the fish farms of Lake Batur: you can see them from the restaurant and recognize them thanks to the bamboo rafts.
Take your time to observe the lake carefully, it is essential in the Balinese life. It is 300 meters deep and houses the goddess of the sacred crater waters. Two temples have been built to honor her: the first one is located in the caldera, at the end of the lake (it seems abandoned, overlooking the lake's sacred waters in which it is forbidden to swim), the second stands on the lip of the crater.
If you walk up to the lake temple, you will be able to enjoy after a 30 minute walk a breathtaking view on the lake, Mount Batur and the ocean, until Lombok. You can ask our staff for more informations if you want to do this walk (without a guide).
It is mainly in the great temple standing on the ridge of the crater that the goddess of the sacred crater waters is celebrated. She is the second most important divinity of Bali: she spreads the wealth of the water all over the island thanks to a complex organization of water temples succeeding each other until the seashore.
The high priest of the temple, the “Jero Gede”, is the most important priest in Bali. The goddess Herself designates him to this task. After the death of a Jero Gede, a virgin girl performing a trance dance receives a call from the goddess and reveals his follower’s name. Today’s priest has been designated in that way when he was an 11 year old boy. In Batur's great temple, the 11-storey pagoda is that of the goddess, whereas the 9 storey pagoda celebrates her spouse, the god of Mount Agung.
This temple has a complex history. It used to be inside the caldera, until the eruption of 1926. All the sacred shrines were then dismantled and stored on the cliff of the caldera, and the remains of the 1000-year-old temple were eventually covered by lava. Decision was taken to rebuild the temple where the shrines were stored. It actually results from the assembly of nine temples saved during the eruption and from the addition of a ridge temple, formerly located on top of the caldera, on Mount Abang.
After the Batur Volcano, you are heading to the temples of Tirtha Empul and Gunung Kawi, in the directionof Ubud. Possibility to stop at a coffee plantation.
The temple of Gunung Kawi is splendidly lodged in the depths of a gorge penetrated by the Pakrisan river running along a peaceful village specialising in bone sculpture and engraving. The village shops on the main route (before reaching the parking lot) exhibit fine designs, with “ethnic” jewellery, reasonably priced although of considerable quality. In order to reach the sacred zone, the descent must be completed by 300 steps. A succession of royal monuments, tombs dug out of the cliff-side, may be examined at a first on the left. They are qualified as tombs but are, in fact, rather altars carved into the shape of Buddhist ‘candi’. These altars commemorate the legendary king, Anak Wungsu and his wife queen Betari Mandul, who reigned over the whole island. This reign at the beginning of the year 1000 was marked by a very strong link with Java. It was in this period that a part of the Island’s religious system was established, organised around three temples: the temple of origins (Pura Puseh), the temple of the village (Pura Desah) and the temple of Death (Pura Dalem).
The visit continues on the other side of the bridge, with the enclosure of a classical Balinese temple, housing pavilions and pagodas. On the right, at the end of the temple, a passage in the rock gives access to a curious collection of niches carved into the mountain. To this day they continue to be identified as having been the cells of monks attached to some monastic institution. Beyond the temple lies a spectacular cliff from which sacred water pours through overflows into an ablution pool. Other ‘candi’ have been sculpted on the wall. The visit may be pursued beyond this ensemble, as far as the shanty huts of a farmer who will serve you delicious coconuts gathered from local trees. Even further on, a promenade in the rice-paddies will lead you to a small but most refreshing waterfall.