Beckoning Bali

Beckoning Bali

java journey

Beckoning Bali

Bali is truly a tourist’s delight with its amazing sea faces, ornately carved temples, omnipresent greenery and exotic seafood.

The veritable display of Balinese handicraft seen through metal, terracotta, stone and wood sculptures, textiles, leather and painting would certainly make one’s baggage heavier on the way home. Add to this, Balinese traditional music and dance performances, which would make the journey complete for any discerning traveller.

The promenade along Kuta Beach was busy with tourists walking briskly or riding cycles, and locals selling sarongs, woodcraft, sea shells and more. As the sun gently kissed the sea, the sky was sprayed with hues of scarlet with birds heading back to their nests and a plane gliding through the flaming sky.

On the way to Kintamani the next morning, our first stopover was Tirta Empul (temple of holy spring water) located at Tampak Siring village. The temple is set in serene surroundings with green hillocks on one side, pools of water and trees all over.

The temple complex has large pavilions, intricately carved wooden statuettes and beautifully sculpted stone doorways. According to local belief, Indra, the king of gods, pierced the earth at Tirta Empul to release holy water for his ailing troops after a battle with a demon. The spring water at the temple is considered sacred by the Balinese. We also saw a newly-married Balinese couple, in their traditional costumes, seeking blessings at the temple.

Climbing uphill, we reached the cooler climes of Kintamani, famous for the volcano, Mount Batur, and a huge caldera, Lake Batur, the largest lake in Bali and a major source of irrigation for agricultural fields. As we reached the vantage point at Penelokan village, the view of the mountain and the lake was simply breathtaking. Mount Batur has erupted 24 times since 1800 AD and is considered an active volcano. We could see large tracts of volcanic rock formation from the solidified lava on the hill face.

Our next stopover was at Daging Woodcarver, a huge gallery displaying a large collection of wooden artefacts ranging from life-size Ganeshas to a garden bench with a sleeping nymph to Barong masks and Balinese dancers, all carved out on sandal, mahogany, teak, hibiscus or crocodile wood. As souvenirs, we chose a Barong mask and face of a Balinese dancer.

On our way back, we visited Goa Gajah temple (the temple of elephant caves) at Bedulu. We entered the cave and found shrines of Shiva and Ganesha inside. We bowed our heads in reverence to our ancestors, who came several centuries ago and from thousands of miles away to preach the holy tenets of Hinduism in a strange land.

The next afternoon, we set out towards the Uluwatu Temple, perched at the top of a cliff jutting out into the sea at the southernmost point of Bali. The jagged cliff here has formed deep canyons that create an exotic view. We could see the azure blue waters of Indian Ocean gently crashing into the canyons.

Thanks to travel advisories on the internet, we were aware of the monkey menace at the temple. While I was fiercely guarding my camera, I saw many tourists losing their hats and and glasses in split-second manoeuvres executed by the monkeys. To our utter delight, the monkeys even negotiated the return of snatched items for bananas and peanuts!

We also visited Pura Tanah Lot on the last day of our stay in Bali. The temple at Tanah Lot, literally meaning an isle floating on the sea, is located on the south-west coast of Bali. Dewa Baruna (Varuna), the Hindu god of water, is worshipped in the temple, which can be accessed by foot only during the low tides.

Jimbaran Beach was next on our agenda. The beach is dotted with a row of restaurants all claiming to serve the freshest catch of the day.

We settled down at a table only a few yards away from the sea. With rays of the setting sun lighting up the clouds and the placid sea in the foreground, and with live music being played by a local group for the diners, it was the perfect end to a memorable day in Bali.

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