Besotted by beautiful Bali

Besotted by beautiful Bali

The stone sculptures on both sides of the road were amazing. Exquisitely carved images of Buddha, Ganesha, ‘chakras’ and mythical lions can be seen on sheds and pathways. We were driving from the airport at Denpasar to Kuta. On a traffic island, there was a huge replica of ‘Gitopadesha’. How beautifully sculpted the figures were! Bali was indeed an open art gallery of art and craft.

 Our guide mentioned that men and women who work during the day in the fields, shops, studios or restaurants transform into artistes on stage in the evening to perform in a ballet or a music concert. We witnessed a performance called ‘barong dance’, where men and women in mythological costumes performed a ballet of the victory of good over evil effortlessly. We went to an artistic village called Tenangan where every house had halls displaying woven textiles, ‘batik’ and ‘ikat’ prints, wooden handicrafts and metal curios. The temples of Bali are not just religious abodes but monuments of architecture that is a mix of megalith culture, Hindu and Chinese influences. On our half-day tour, we visited both Taman Ayun and Tanah Lot, architectural marvels in wood and stone. Taman Ayun is a temple complex 100 metres in length and 250 metres in width with greenery all around, a fountain in the middle and well-laid pathways. The complex with three inner courts and an outer court has huge engraved entrances, sprawling lawns with towered structures and thatched shelters. Tanah Lot is a stunning wooden structure raised on a huge rock embedded in the sea. It is a long way to the temple from the imposing entrance. It is pleasurable to walk on sturdy stones on the shores of Tanah Lot with the feel of the cool water on your feet.

The Ulun Danu Beratan Temple is another structure that is beautifully placed on the flowing waters of Lake Beratan. The temple complex has a huge courtyard with exquisitely carved entrances, fountains and stunning sculptures on a sprawling lawn that leads to the inside complex with the temple on the lake. The whole spot with a spiralling tower followed by low thatched structures on a grassy platform on the lake and the mountain range of the Bedugul region as the backdrop is spectacularly scenic.

The Besakih Temple, called the mother temple, in the north of Bali, is located on Mount Agung, the largest volcano on the island. A long walk on a well-laid pathway and around 100 steps above leads to 22 small temples inside the Besakih complex that are mostly wooden structures with pagodas on top.

Bali is a land of nature’s plenty. One can enjoy lunch overlooking rice fields, volcanic mountains over soothing lakes or the rush of water flowing down roaring falls. Walk down to a cave temple like Goa Gajah or visit Banjar Hot Springs. Of course, beaches are Bali’s beauty spots! Indulge in sunbathing and surfing at Kuta beach, take a speedboat from Lovina beach and sit on huge boulders to watch the horizon at Candidasa beach.  Surely, one visit may not be enough to enjoy the essence of Bali.

Kalpana Rangan
(The author can be contacted at rangan.kalpana@gmail.com)

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