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Travel Guide > Asia > Indonesia > Bali > Mount Agung

Mount Agung Sights & Attractions

  
 
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Pura Pasar Agung

 

Pura Pasar Agung is one of Bali's nine directional temples and it sits at the start point of one of the ascent routes up Mount Agung. It is close to the village of Selat on the main road from Rendang to Karangasem.

Sidemen/Selat area

The Sidemen/Selat area is stunningly beautiful. It incorporates several valleys in the foothills of Mount Agung on the route between Karangasem and Rendang. The drive through this area is most scenic and one of the very best in Bali. Stunning rice terraces, lush forested hill-sides and the mountain itself, all combine to make this a magical area to visit. If you stop in the village of Selat it is easy to find local guides for undemanding hikes in the area.

Besakih Temple

Besakih is known as the Mother Temple of Bali. Besides being the most important temple for the whole of the island, another attraction of Besakih, actually a complex of temples, is its dramatic location on the southern slopes of Mount Agung.

Get in

The usual way to get to Besakih is from Klungkung. Besakih is about 20km north of the town centre. The road is not too bad, if a little winding at times. There is also a back road to Besakih south from Kintamani, and the hour-long drive is beautiful as you pass through forests, villages and fields. The road meets the main Besakih-Klungkung road just before the entrance to Besakih. If you are coming from the eastern end of the island, such as from Amed, Tirta Gangga or Candidasa, you can also get to Besakih by taking a smaller inland road from Karangasem. The road goes through small villages such as Selat and the Bukit Putung lookout, and meets the Besakih-Klungkung road at Rendang, where you turn north (right) to head up to Besakih. The official car park fee at Besakih is Rp 5,000 per vehicle.

Bemos run to Besakih from Klungkung. They are most frequent in the morning. You may have to change bemos at Rendang halfway between Klungkung and Besakih.

Orientation

Like most major temples in Bali, the area surrounding Besakih is starting to take the shape of a small town, with many souvenir and eating shops. It can get overrun by quite aggressive touts and souvenir peddlers. As you leave the parking area, you will be stopped at a post and asked to make a donation and assigned a guide. This is on top of your official Rp 10,000 entry fee. The donation book will show many people donating huge amounts but please bear in mind that it is easy to scribble names and numbers with lots of zeros. The people collecting the donation can be quite pushy and will not think twice about asking for more money. You could try refusing to pay or suggest Rp 20,000 as your "first offer". While you may dislike guides, one may be quite useful as he will give a good explanation of Balinese Hinduism and the various temples of Besakih. He can also show you how to pray (it does not matter what religion you follow) if you so wish. Your "donation" covers the cost of a guide.

The temple complex consists of at least 18 separate temples and numerous other shrines. Each temple has a specific purpose, whether it is for the worship of a particular god, for the use of the people of a particular region of Bali, or for the use of a particular caste. The only way to move around the temples of Besakih is on foot. The complex gradually rises up the slopes of Gunung Agung and there are countless flights of steps. Be prepared with a pair of comfortable shoes.

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.





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