The Island Of Gods: Exploring The Many Facets Of Bali

Located in the westernmost end of the Lesser Sunda Islands, Bali is a rich showcase of breathtaking landscapes, colourful arts and culture and a deep history
A view in Bali
A view in BaliShutterstock

Renowned as "The Island of Gods," Bali boasts a rich web of temples, each a testament to the profound influence of Hinduism on its culture. From elaborate ceremonies to daily rituals, religious practices are deeply woven into the fabric of Balinese life. Evidence of ancient habitation dates back to 3000 BCE, as revealed by the megalithic stone structures found in archaeological sites like Gunung Kawi and Goa Gajah. In prehistoric times, Bali was home to a clan of Austronesian descent whose spiritual beliefs centred around the worship of ancestral spirits and the practice of animism.

Later in the 1st century, Indian traders and scholars introduced Hinduism and Buddhism to the island and built numerous structures and monuments, among which is Besakih, the 'Mother Temple' of Bali. In the 13th century, the majestic Javanese Majapahit Kingdom took control of the island and introduced epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana, which were picked up by the Balinese nobles and ingrained in the island's folklore and arts. In the 19th century, the place came within the clutches of the Dutch East India Company and later to the Japanese Occupation, who made significant renditions to the Balinese political landscape.

In 1945, Bali emerged as a free society and part of the Indonesian Republic. Soon in the latter half of the 20th century, the island gained momentum as a tourist attraction that led to the island's rapid development and enhancement of its economy. Explore the unique island which has maintained its characteristic connection as well as the cultural and religious heritage despite the rampant modernisation.

Places to see in Bali

Bali is dotted with endless temples, historic monuments and shrines. Explore the rich culture full of intricate architecture, mythologies, practices and rituals.

An aerial view of the Uluwatu Temple
An aerial view of the Uluwatu TempleShutterstock

Uluwatu Temple

Resting cinematically atop a steep cliff, the Uluwatu Temple overlooks the Indian Ocean. The temple is in reverence for the sea gods and is a crucial place for the Bali Hindus. The site is known for its scenic vantage view of sunsets and sunrises, as well as a traditional host of Kecak dance performances. Visitors must bear in mind to dress appropriately and refrain from feeding the resident monkeys.

Timings: 7 am to 7 pm

Besakih Temple, Bali
Besakih Temple, BaliWikimedia Commons

Besakih Temple

Also known as the 'Mother Temple', the Besakih is the most important temple of Bali. Sitting on the slopes of Mount Agung, Besakih is a chain of 23 temples that make up a beautiful sight to behold. The site plays host to at least 70 festivals annually.

Timings: 8 am to 6 pm

Tanah Lot Temple, Bali
Tanah Lot Temple, BaliShutterstock

Tanah Lot Temple

The Tanah Lot Temple has been part of Balinese mythology for centuries. Picturesquely sitting on top of a rocky cliff, the temple is believed to be guarded by sea snakes at the foot of the cliff. The path to the temple is dotted by pristine souvenir shops where tourists can buy exotic mementoes.

Entry fee: 60,000 IDR (INR 285) for adults and 30,000 IDR (142 INR) for children.

Timings: 7 am to 7 pm

Goa Gajah
Goa GajahShutterstock

Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave)

Believed to have once been a hermitage, the Goa Gajah caves date back to the 9th century and form a significant ancient archaeological site of the place. The architecture of the cave is quite exhilarating as the entrance is designed as a demon's mouth leading to a cave marked by Buddhist and Hindu stone inscriptions.

The statues of Goa Gajah
The statues of Goa GajahWikimedia Commons

The site has seven statues of women with water pitchers depicting India's seven main rivers, respectively. One of these statues was destroyed in an earthquake.

Entry fee: 50,000 IDR (272 INR)

Timings: Open 24 hrs

Tirta Empul
Tirta EmpulShutterstock

Tirta Empul Temple

The Tirta Empul is a sacred spring water temple where Hindu Balinese go for regular purification. It dates back to the 10th century of the Warmadeva Empire. The temple is marked by several petirtaan or bathing structures, where the Hindus believe amrita or holy water comes from. The temple is characterised by intricate Balinese architecture and is dominated by a serene environment.

Entry fee: 500 IDR (259 INR)

Timings: 8 am to 6 pm

Where to stay

Bali has numerous homestays that are conscious of the fragile Bali ecosphere. Staying here can give the tourists a sense of the traditional Balinese lifestyle and familiarise them with the local cuisines, culture and rituals. Jana's Homestay and Nanda Homestay are among the many that travellers can choose from.

Getting There

Bali boasts a single international gateway, granting access to travellers from across the globe. Situated in the southern region of Kuta, the Denpasar-Ngurah Rai International Airport serves as the island's primary aerial entry point, connecting it to destinations worldwide.

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