Bali:: Besakih temple

Bali, Karangasem, Besakih. The Mother Temple of Besakih, or Pura Besakih, on the slopes of Mount Agung. There are 22 temples in the complex. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Bali, Karangasem, Besakih. The Mother Temple of Besakih, or Pura Besakih, on the slopes of Mount Agung. There are 22 temples in the complex. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

At the foot of the great Gunung Agung mountain sits the most sacred of all Balinese temples; Pura Besakih. A more spectacular location for this huge temple complex would be hard to find. If you are lucky to visit on a clear day you can see Gunung Agung (3.142 m), a background that can give anyone a religious feeling. There has been a temple here for more than one thousand years, it is first mentioned in an inscription from 1007 BC.

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Bali:: Candidasa

Bali, Karangasem, Candidasa. The beach looking west. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Bali, Karangasem, Candidasa. The beach looking west. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Candidasa can be a good alternative if you’re looking for a pleasant place to stay a few days while you explore East Bali. This is a tourist area about three km long, located along the main road from Semarapura (Klungkung) to Amlapura. A large part of the business is owned by people from the Bali-Aga village Tenganan not far from here. The name Candidasa is probably derived from “Cilidasa” which means “three children”.

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Bali:: Padangbai

Bali, Karangasem, Padangbai. The local perahu-boats can be very colourful. The big eyes in the front is supposed to help the boat navigate through the darkness. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Bali, Karangasem, Padangbai. The local perahu-boats can be very colourful. The big eyes in the front is supposed to help the boat navigate through the darkness. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Padangbai is a popular place to stay for travelers who are on their way to or from Lombok. There are also public boats leaving regularly from here to Nusa Penida. The village is located in a lovely bay, with the large ferry terminal and a long beach surrounded by green hills. A large part of the population are fishermen, indicated by the large number of boats along the beach. The water here is too polluted to swim in, but not far away there are nice and clean beaches, like the white Pantai Kecil only 15 minutes walk southwards.

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Bali:: Gunung Agung

Bali, Karangasem, Gunung Agung. The summit of Gunung Agung covered by clouds (from airplane). (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Bali, Karangasem, Gunung Agung. The summit of Gunung Agung covered by clouds (from airplane). (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Gunung Agung is Bali’s highest and most sacred mountain. It is 3.142 meter high and can be seen from almost everywhere on Bali and from the neighboring islands, but most of the time it is covered by clouds. The best time of year to see the mountain is August to September and of course early in the morning.

The height is disputed because of the last eruption 17th of March 1963, which by some is believed to have blown off the highest top. Gunung Agung is now said to be 3.014 meters, and the top is today a 500 meter wide crater.

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Bali:: Tirta Gangga

Bali, Karangasem. The Tirta Gangga water palace. Inside the palace there are two bathing pools open for the public. This one is for the locals, to the left of this there is a pool open for tourists. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Bali, Karangasem. The Tirta Gangga water palace. Inside the palace there are two bathing pools open for the public. This one is for the locals, to the left of this there is a pool open for tourists. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Tirta Gangga is a small village built on an altitude of about 500 meters, seven km northwest of Amlapura. Tirta Gangga means “water from the Ganges”, and the place is known for it’s “water palace” and beautiful surroundings.

In many people’s opinion this is among the most beautiful areas on Bali.

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Bali:: Tenganan village

Bali, Karangasem, Tenganan.  A traditional Bali Aga village. Tenganan is located on the fertile hills stretching up to Gunung Agung. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Bali, Karangasem, Tenganan. A traditional Bali Aga village. Tenganan is located on the fertile hills stretching up to Gunung Agung. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

When Majapahit conquered Bali in 1343 there were some Balinese who did not accept this change of rule, and therefore built their own villages in remote areas. The descendants of these people are today known as Bali Aga or Bali Mula, meaning “the original Balinese”. They still live in villages like Tenganan in East Bali or Trunyan at the shores of the Batur lake.

Many of the old traditions are still maintained, and it is still possible to see their unique ceremonies and dance performances. The Tenganan people are convinced they are descendants of the gods. Even if the Bali Aga people today are Hindus they still practice a religion which is partly a heritage from pre-Hindu times, with obvious Polynesian characteristics.

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