Updated March 2016
Tanah Lot Temple
The poetic name of this temple stands in Balinese for “the Land in the Sea” as it was built on a rock just offshore of the main coast. It is believed that back in the 16th century a famous holy man called Niratha told the local fisherman to build a shrine in this place to worship the sea gods. Also, it is thought that the poisonous sea snakes that live in the waters around the temple are protecting this shrine from evil spirits and intruders. The legend tells that, originally, the snakes appeared magically out of Niratha's scarf. Being highly poisonous, but of a timid spirit, nowadays they are part of the attraction for the temple’s visitors. The picturesque Tanah Lot is part of a chain of seven temples along the south-western coast of Bali set up within visual distance from each other. Tanah Lot is located in the Tabanan area, approximately 20 kilometres away from Denpasar. Sunset is the most popular time of the day for tourists to approach the temple along the causeway that opens during the low tide.
Considered to be the cultural capital of Bali, Ubud is where modern and traditional Balinese art museums, galleries and workshops can be found. The Puri Saren Palace and the excellent dance shows are just some of the many attractions that a visitor can find in Ubud. The town's peaceful setting and artistic flavour, offers an exciting mix of bohemian and traditional Balinese lifestyle. Surrounded by tiny Balinese villages and spectacular rice terraces, Ubud is an attractive alternative to the beach-side resorts, as accommodation here is of good quality, reasonably priced, and away from the hustle of the crowded seaside Kuta. On the outskirts of Ubud, you can find the Monkey Forest Reserve and a shrine, whilst nearby the Elephant Safari Park is located nearby
You must be careful when booking a sightseeing tour, as some that include Ubud in a larger programme do not, in fact, visit the town, apart from showing the outside of the Puri Saren Palace, which you cannot enter as it is still occupied by the descendants of the old ruler of Ubud.
Jimbaran Bay and the Jimbaran fishing village are in the southern part of the island. There is a traditional fish market at the northern end of the bay where the catch of the day is on sale between 6 and 9 a.m. Jimbaran beach with its fine white sand and safe swimming is one of the best in Bali. Seafood restaurants with their tables right on the sand attract many tourists looking for delicious seafood or for the romantic sunsets.
The rice terraces form an integral part of the Balinese landscape and can be found all over the island. However, their scenery is better appreciated by taking a scenic drive from Candidasa to Amlapura along the eastern side of the island. Another place to view the rice terraces is in the surroundings of Jatiluwih village set against the background of Mounts Batakaru and Agung.
The rice terraces are recognized by UNESCO as part of the World Heritage. They are protected as Bali's Cultural Landscape. The rice terraces are irrigated by the Balinese system of water management known as 'subak'. Subak takes its origin from the arrival of Hindus in the 9th century. The water in subak irrigation is used to manage the complex and sustainable ecosystem that supports the growing population of Bali. Apart from its technical side, subak includes the whole philosophy of community wellbeing by seeking harmony between humans, the earth, and the gods.
The combined Mount Agung and Gunung Agung are active volcanoes in eastern Bali and at 3148 metres, the highest mountain on the island. Agung is a sacred mountain, and has the island’s major Hindu Temple, Pura Besakih, at its foot, 900m above sea level. Pura Besakih is known as the Mother Temple within a complex of 22 temples devoted to Hindu deities. The first terraced temple at the foot of the Agung volcano appeared in the 9th century and was dedicated to Besakih - the god dragon that lived in the sacred mountain. The Pura Basakih temple complex is a unique place of worship as it is open to Hindus of all castes. Therefore, many followers come here from everywhere in the island, and from abroad. The most important of these sacred, active temples is the Pura Penataran Agung, a six-level structure dedicated to Shiva, one of the main daities of Hinduism.
Bali has many religious festivals, the most important being the Eka Dasa Rudra, a purification ceremony that is held once every century: in a year that ends in two zeros in the Balinese lunar calendar (Saka). Saka year 1900 coincided with the Christian Gregorian year of 1979. However, the sacred texts allow the ceremony to be held in different years if there is a danger or a premonition of impending natural disasters. Such a time seemed to be arriving by the religious authorities and the celebrations started in October 1962, with the most important event, the great sacrifice (of buffaloes and other animals, along with offerings of bananas, rice, eggs, coconuts, etc) scheduled for the 8th of March 1963, the last day of the Saka year. At this time, Mount Agung started to erupt and soon devastated nearby villages killing some 1500 people. The lava missed the Pura Penataran Agung by just a few metres, and spared it. The Balinese considered that escape of the temple complex to be a miracle.
The volcano at Kintamani should not be missed. It is a sight of great beauty, lying next to the Batur Lake, which was created by the craters of earlier volcanoes.