Learning about Balance: Pura Besakih

Pura Besakih, the mother temple of Bali, over 2000 years old and 1000m above sea level, has sat high on my Balinese bucket list since long before I arrived. So finally it was time to make the trip into the mountains and visit the temple complex. It’s not the easiest place to get to as it is not situated too close to any of the major tourist towns, and I missed the opportunity to visit from Ubud, so needed to be sure to make my way there before I went too much further South.

Padang Bai seemed like an ideal launch pad for the (half) day trip, as there was not so much I wanted to see and do in the town anyways, and the temple lay just 1 hour away. I set out early and although the weather wasn’t perfect, it was nice to get into the mountains and watch the beautiful countryside fall away into the distance.

The temple was a little smaller than I was expecting, but then I suppose I didn’t have too many expectations, but it was beautiful all the same. What made my day however was my guide, Wayan (the name given to any first-born in Bali, male or female), who not only took me through the complex to show me the different temples but also taught me about Hinduism along the way. Lacking in knowledge prior to arriving in Bali, I felt that this was really important to help me understand my future Balinese adventures.

I learned about the central importance of balance, good and bad, light and dark, symbolised with a black and white checkered cloth which adorned the protective statues outside the temples’ many entrances. I learned about the different gods, at Besakih there is Brahma, the creator, Shiva, the destroyer, and Vishnu, the protector. At each entrance there were little baskets of offerings for the spirits, just like I had seen on the streets of Ubud and Amed. Wayan explained that the offerings are for the evil spirits, to keep them away.

I learned a lot from my visit and would highly recommend making the journey if not only to better understand this element of the local culture. After the 30-40 minutes spent walking around I made my way back to Padang Bai for an afternoon at the beach. There are two main beaches to either side of town, White Sand and Blue Lagoon, both easily reached with a 10 minute walk. Having stopped by White Sand the day before to check it out I ventured to Blue Lagoon and was blown away by possibly the most turquoise water I have ever seen, the perfect spot to while away the afternoon.

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