Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Mother temple in Bali, "Besakih"

This majestic temple complex nestles at the foot of Mount Agung. It is the place where the Hindus come for blessing and the tourists come for its unique ancient architecture and atmosphere. It is the centre of Balinese Hindu life and the source of spiritual energy. It is a must see on any visitors agenda

A lontar manuscript indicates that in 158AD Rsi Markandiya came to an island that had a large of mountains from east to west and which he could see from his meditation spot in Mount Rawung, Cast Java. Rsi Markandiya was a yogi from India who had meditated in East Java since unknown times. While he was meditating, a supernatural voice told him to go to the island together with his people.

A tragic incident occurred while he and his people were in the island which he named Pulau Dawa. Pulau means island and Dawa means long. Rsi's people worked hard to prepare the land for cultivation, but some wild animals and a strange epidemic killed so many of them. The tragedy made the Maha Yogi fall into desperation and he went back to Mount Rawung only to return to the Pulau Dawa after sometime had passed.

The second time, he came to Pulau Dawa with some people from the village of Aga near Mount Rawung. On the island, a ritual was always held before they started work. Markandiya also held a ritual called Panca Datu, using 5 instruments which were made of gold, silver, bronze, metal and red diamond. He named the area of the ritual as Basuki which means bless. Nowadays, the area is popularly known as Besakih.

The people from Aga village are now called the Bali Aga, Bali from the word Wali means holy sacrifice and Aga means mountain. Rsi Markandiya organized his people and taught them farming and organized a social system.Therefore the civilization on the island started in a sacred place at the foot of Mount Agung where the temple complex stands majestically today.

Besakih is an extensive complex with 23 temples, the largest temple inside the complex is Pura Penataran Agung that is dedicated to Shiva. then there are Pura Kiduling Kreteg, representing Brahma, the Creator and Pura Batu Madeg, representing Visnu, the Preserver. Those three manifestations of God are known as Tri Murti.

Besides those temples there are also temples representing Panca Dewata, 5 God's manifestations that protect 4 directions and the center. On the right and left side of Pura Penataran Agung, there are clusters of temples called pedarman where people come to pray and give offerings for their ancestors.

The complex is vast and hilly. So it really is necessary to get a guide who is capable and has good knowledge about the temple otherwise you will not really appreciate it. Since there are so many things one can observe and appreciate in the temple complex. For example, one can marvel at the carvings which tell some epic stories such as Ramayana and Mahabrata which decorate the temple traditional architecture and the Kamasan style paintings which are very old.

Please note that tourists are not allowed inside the temple itself.

The best time to visit Besakih is in the early morning or late evening when the breeze, the quiet environment and the superb view down to the coast add so much to the ambience of the complex. Besides, during those times not so many people are in the temple and the crowds of 'guides'calling themselves'temple guardians; who usually convince tourists to go around under their guidance, are not yet roaming around the temple complex. So, one may have a hassle free tour !

The temple is located in Klungkung Regency and is the inheritance for all Balinese. Besakih has its own unique charm and it is believed that the temple area is filled with mystical supernatural power. In 1963, when Mount Agung erupted, Besakih was the only place which survived the lava even though it nestles at the very foot of the mountain. It is the dream of every Balinese to pray and give offerings in the temple, which has very important role in the history of Balinese civilization. Believe it or not, there are some Balinese who have never set foot in Besakih in their lifetime, but there is no reason for you to miss this wonderful experience as most tour operators have good guided tours to the complex.

No comments:

Post a Comment