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Pura Besakih, the Mother of All Temple in Bali

Everywhere you go in Bali, you will find temples and shrines and the mother of all of them is Pura Besakih

Balinese people do a show before doing ritual called Karya Gede to worship Gods (C0 Shutterstock

Everywhere you go in Bali, you will find temples and shrines. Do you know that there is the mother of all temple in Bali? Located just two and half hour’s drive from Sanur, Pura Besakih is one of the most sacred place on the resort island. With picturesque surroundings and wonderful backdrop, the spiritual aura in this place is undeniable.

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Pura Besakih Temple , Bali , Indonesia. (c) SHutterstock
Pura Besakih Temple , Bali , Indonesia. (c) Shutterstock

First built by the ancient Baliniese, Pura Besakih is often considered as the mother of all temples in Bali. In other words, this is the most important temple in the whole island. Located at the southern slope of Mount Agung, Pura Besakih is actually a complex of puras with deep spiritual symbolism and importance.

Balinese people do a show before doing ritual called Karya Gede to worship Gods (c) Shutterstock
Balinese people do a show before doing ritual called Karya Gede to worship Gods (c) Shutterstock

There are lots of religious ceremonies held here. To enter the complex, one must show respect by wearing the proper clothes. For tourists, Besakih can offer wonderful experience. Not only that the atmosphere here is deeply spiritual, but the artistic element in this area can be really inspiring.

Built in Prehistoric Era

Main Bali temple Pura Besakih at the foot of the volcano Agung. Balinese sacred mountain Agung colored in pink by sunset light. The must visit religious landmark of Bali in the evening. (c) Shutterstock
Main Bali temple Pura Besakih at the foot of the volcano Agung. Balinese sacred mountain Agung colored in pink by sunset light. The must visit religious landmark of Bali in the evening. (c) Shutterstock

There is no official statement on the origin of the temple or how old it is. However, some of the examination on the stone bases of the temples shows that it has been there since the megalithic era from prehistoric times. There is a possibility that this complex was initially a megalithic pyramid complex that was later converted into Hindu temple. This temple complex, however, has become the most important worshipping place in Bali since at least ninth century.

The Artistic Structure

Pura Besakih temple, Bali island, Indonesia (c) Shutterstock
Pura Besakih temple, Bali island, Indonesia (c) Shutterstock

This pura complex was built for religious purpose, however, one cannot just ignore the artistic beauty of the temples. As in many places in Bali, the entrance gate is a candi bentar (a split gateway). The largest temple here is Pura Penataran Agung consists of several areas representing seven layers of the universe. The most iconic view of Pura besakih is of course the meru (a pagoda-like tower with tiered thatched roof.

The Mother of all Temple

Besakih Temple in Bali, Indonesia (c) Shutterstock
Besakih Temple in Bali, Indonesia (c) Shutterstock

For Balinese, pilgrimage to Pura Besakih is a special occasion as this is the most sacred temple on the whole island. There is a bit of a literal truth when saying that Besakih is the mother of all temple because some shrines here contains the religious literature on how a temple must be built. Tourist are allowed to visit some parts of this complex but some other parts are strictly reserved for religious ceremony or pilgrimage.

Entering the temple

Balinese Hindu People and the tourist come to Pura Besakih Balinese temple on Bali, Indonesia, April 05 2018
Balinese Hindu People and the tourist come to Pura Besakih Balinese temple on Bali, Indonesia, April 05 2018 (c) Shutterstock

Since this temple is of the highest religious importance to Balinese, you need to be at your best manner to enter the complex. Women who are in their period are not allowed to enter. To go into the pura, you must wear a proper clothes with proper top, sarong, and a sash. Luckily, if you forget to bring them, you can rent or buy all the necessary clothes outside of the temple.

Pura Besakih temple,Bali,Indonesia (c) Shutterstock
Pura Besakih temple,Bali,Indonesia (c) Shutterstock

Be aware that Besakih is infamous for its illegal extortion to tourists. When you arrive at the site, you will be flocked by hawkers, touts, guides, or even people who claims to be the temple guards. Their only intention is to extort your money, so be careful. It is advisable to hire an official guard at the banjar, not the one who run at you on the spot. Next

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