Besakih Temple the Mother of Bali
Besakih temple is the most important temple in Bali. Known as the Mother Temple, Besakih sits on the western slop of Gunung Agung, the most holy place for Balinese Hindus. Getting to Besakih from Kuta is quite easy. Simply head east towards Sanur, connections with the Kusamba Bypass at Tohpati. Follow the fast track coastal route until you see signs for Klungkung, at which point you head north looking out for sign for Besakih. You should be at Besakih in around 2 hours from Kuta.
Besakih temple’s history dates back to megalithic times, with the most ancient section Pura Batu Madeg (temple of the Standing Stone) built around a central rock.
Balinese people believe the founder of Besakih to be Sri Markandeya, a Javanese priest who was in Bali around the 10th Century AD. Besakih was already very important to the Balinese by the time the Javanese Majapahits conquered Bali is 1343. After that time the temple became the central temple of the Gelgel and Klungkung courts. Exploring the Besakih temple complex means a lot of walking and stair climbing.
One strategy is to visit the largest temple, Pura Penataran Agung first, then take your time meandering the other points of interest. If you feel like checking out the more remote parts of the temple, head to Pura Pengubengan, which is 2km through the north at the northern end of the temple.
The most important and most impressive temple in the compex is Pura Penetaran Agung, which is built on six different stepped levels. The entrance, approached up a flight of steps, is an impressive split gateway (candi bentar) behind which is the kori agung, or gateway to the middle courtyard (jaba tengah). This is the area where during ceremonies hundreds of worshippers gather in pristine white dress, and create a quite wonderful spiritual sight.
Non-Hindu visitors will never be allowed beyond this point into the inner courtyard (jeroan), and access will be restricted even here during special ceremonies. Indeed, many temple areas at Besakih may be off-limits when religious events are being held. There is though always something of interest to see.
Other temples at Besakih include the remaining two equivalents of the three normal local village temples (see Bali Temples). Here though, these perform those functions for the whole of the Bali. The other two are called Pura Basukian and Pura Dalem. A visit to Besakih is a must-do for any traveler to Bali. It is though not always the easiest experience due to the very pushy souvenir vendors and guide touts. Those visitors who are not used to this type of attention should prepare themselves for a unique and sometimes very irritating trip.
Pura Penataran Agung, is Bali’s main place of worship, a complex comprising twenty-two temples set on parallel ridges. This complex expresses the essential belief of the Balinese known as Tri Hita Kirana, meaning that life on earth must be lived and kept in balance and harmony between man and God, man and society and his fellow human beings, and man and his natural environment.
During a full moon, Balinese and pilgrims throng to the temple. During the festival of Odalan, the temple is most elaborately decorated. Odalan is celebrated on every 210th day.