Besakih Temple in Bali

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Pura Besakih - Most sacred and largest temple in Bali

Pura Besakih is the holiest, largest and also one of the oldest temples in Bali. For the locals, it is the mother of all Balinese temples and is therefore also called the mother temple. Located at 900 meters on the southwest slope of Gunung Agung (3142 m), Pura Besakih is the closest god to all the temples in Bali. Because according to the Balinese-Hindu belief, the still-active volcano Gunung Agung is the residence of the gods and symbolizes the center of the universe.

Pura Besakih is a large, terraced temple city with three main temples, around 30 secondary temples, and more than 200 buildings, including numerous temple towers (Meru), shrines, and pavilions. The most sacred of the three main temples is Pura Penataran Agung Besakih, in which the almighty god Sanghyang Widhi Wasa is worshiped as Trimurti – in his manifestation as Brahma-Shiva-Vishnu.

Pura Penataran Agung Besakih forms the center of the temple complex as a large state temple and houses the sacred three-seat lotus throne (Padmasana), the throne of honor for Widhi Wasa at temple festivals. A steep, wide stone staircase leads up to the temple, and the entrance is marked by a Candi Bentar (split gate). Non-Hindus are allowed to enter the sacred site but must be on the outer edge.

Pura Penataran Agung Besakih is the main venue for Balinese Hindu ceremonies held almost daily in the temple. Balinese dressed in white then carry their offerings up the central stairs to the temple, pray and honor their gods and ancestors. Pura Besakih has functioned as an ancestral temple since the end of the 15th century.

The other two main temples of the complex are located on either side of the central sanctuary. Pura Kiduling Kreteg in the east is dedicated to Brahma, Pura Batu Medeg in the west to Vishnu. Around it is the numerous temples and shrines of the Balinese clans and village communities, all surrounded by walls and walls. The princely families have their districts.

Besakih Temple Bali - Bali Ideas

Tips for visitors

A visit to Pura Besakih is a must for Bali travelers. The approximately three square kilometer temple complex in the east of Bali can be reached from the parking lot via a roughly one kilometer long, paved path. There are numerous souvenir shops, fruit and drink stalls on both sides of the track. On the large meadow in front of the temple, there is a beautiful photo motif of the Pura Besakih and the Gunung Agung behind. Clear view and good weather seldom occur on Gunung Agung. Mostly mountains and temples are covered with clouds, and rain is not uncommon.

At least two hours should be planned for a visit to Pura Besakih. Parallel to the central staircase, there are also paths leading to the upper terraces of the temple complex. On the left or right hand, it is worth taking a look through the doors and gates of the temples and shrines of the clans and village communities. At the souvenir shop above the central sanctuary, the path continues up to the highest temple, the Pura Pangu Bengan. The temple with a breathtaking view of the entire Besakih complex, the coast, and the sea is open to visitors of all faiths, provided you want to pray.

History of the Pura Besakih

The origins of Pura Besakih go back to the pre-Hindu era of Bali. In the 8th century, a priest from Java, Sanghyang Markan Deya, is said to have laid the foundation stone for the temple. Since the end of the 15th and beginning of the 16th century, Pura Besakih has been the most important of the nine-state temples in Bali.

Pura Besakih has been expanded over the centuries to include new temples, shrines, and other temple buildings. The temple was partially destroyed during an earthquake in 1917 and then rebuilt. Pura Besakih was miraculously spared the eruption of the Gunung Agung volcano in 1963. The lava flow split shortly before reaching the temple and flowed left and right past the sanctuary. Nevertheless, the volcanic eruption became a tragedy. More than 1000 Balinese died, and over 80,000 lost their roofs over their heads.

Unfortunately, at the time of the volcanic eruption, all of Bali was in the middle of preparations for the 100-year-old Eka Dasa Rudra festival, a ritual in which the universe cleaned. The festival is traditionally celebrated in Pura Besakih. The Balinese interpreted the volcanic eruption as an expression of divine anger because the timing of the start of the festivities may have been miscalculated. The Eka-Dasa-Rudra festival was rescheduled in 1979.

In the recent year from 2018 – (present), the volcano is active, and there is a 4-kilometer excursion zone around the volcano, not allowing visitors to the Temple Besakih.

Opening times and admission

Pura Besakih is open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wearing a sarong and temple scarves is compulsory (can be borrowed at the entrance, sold at the numerous stands near the parking lot). Admission to the temple complex: 60,000 rupiah (4,5 USD) per person (without a tour guide)

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