Do you know that the Pura Besakih temple is the only temple to allow a human of any Hindu sect? Yes, this is true and the most admiring fact of the temple that draws many pilgrims from all round the world. The temple is at a considerable height on the slopes of the sacred and volcanic Mount Agung rising on the island of Bali in Indonesia. Also known as the Mother Temple of Besakih, it is the largest temple in the county and is a World Heritage Site.
The temple is not the only building of worship; rather it’s a complex of 21 more temples on its sides that dates back to the 10th century. Herein, there are three major temples dedicated to the Hindu deities namely, Lord Shiva (Perpetuator of Truth), Lord Brahma (Creator of Universe), and Lord Vishnu (Perpetuator of Life). The remaining 18 edifices are the sanctuaries belonging to the various Hindu classes.
Originally, there were stepped terraces and so the temple was a terraced monument devoted to the dragon god called Besakih who is believed to live on the mountain. The legend has it that the largest Mount Agung had exploded in 1963 quite frequently after which the vast flow of lava killed thousands of people, but passed away from the Pura Besakih temple by some meager yards. This natural saving of the temple from the damaging lava is considered quite miraculous as a powerful indication by the gods to the people residing there.
Even today, the site has stepped terraces and staircases that rises along a myriad of courtyards and brick gateways. I started climbing the sacred mountain through these stairs that took me to the focal spire Meru structure that is known as the Pura Penataran Agung. This flight is arranged in a line alongside an axis and is intentionally built in this manner to lift the spiritual seeker closer to the sacred mountain. The structure is referred to as the emblematic edifice within which the chief shrine is those of the trinity Hindu deities that are well clad and decorated with flowers as offerings. It holds white banners representing Lord Shiva, while to its right – the Pura Kiduling Kreteg contains red banners symbolizing Lord Brahma. To its left, the Pura Batu Mddeg has black banners indicating Lord Vishnu.
Sadly, the Other Temples can only be visited from outside as only pilgrims can go in the inner courtyards for worship purpose and hence is closed to the visitors. Despite this, I would say be positive and just do not miss a chance to walk around to glance through their beautiful sculptures. As an added advantage to cover up the shortcoming of prohibited inner visit, these temples stretch on the mountain so gently that you can enjoy a fine walk. This means your trekking is the only way to explore the temple complex.
Let me tell you visiting temples is not the only draw of this site for the tourists, but it is also the outstanding vistas of the mountainous region. This is another support for you to still climb the market in spite of your realization that you cannot get into most of the temples. The views of the volcanic mountain will captivate you when you trek up to the main temple point and stroll around its end. For ideal scenery, go towards the northeastern area.
If the temple is so sacred, there should be some grand festivals too, right? Certainly, even at this temple complex, a minimum of 70 festivals are celebrated annually. Ah! This is a grand number. Among all the festivals, the temple’s anniversary along with those of all the shrines is celebrated during the 10th month of the 210-day Balinese Wuku calendar system. This is called Odalan that comes in April as per the English calendar. On this day, you will find yourself among the thousands of colorfully dressed people and embellishments. You will really feel difficult on this day to enjoy walking around and exploring the temple.
Kindly note that it is not simple to reach the temple as the bus or the car do not stop at the entrance, which makes it mandatory for you to walk until the entrance of the temple complex. In addition, make sure that you come along with a sarong especially for skimpy attire. It would be okay if you hire it for Rp2000, but rather buy it if you are planning to visit the other temples in the nation. Lastly, be aware of those guides who will approach you and ensures you to take into the inner courtyards of the temples. Just say no to them as nobody has the power to break the rules there. The timings are from 8 am to 5 pm with an admission fee of Rp 7500.