Besakih temple, the mother temple of Bali for more than 1000 years is on a great height of 1000 meters above the sea level on the slopes of the famous mount in Bali that is Mount Agung. A unique temple complex that showcases brilliant architectural as well as artistic aspects includes 86 temples and the main temple is Pura Penataran Agung and 18 others.
The biggest temple on the island is Besakih that is peacefully flanked by extensive rice fields, mountains, streams, valleys and hills. Balinese people believe that the visit to Besakih is an irreplaceable act of pilgrimage. Since the location of the temple is a mountain, its features are not usual yet immaculate. As you proceed to the mountain through the stairs, you will reach the different tiers of temples depending on the types and functions.
Structure of the temple: Besakih temple features three temples for the Hindu trinity. Pura Penataran Agung is dedicated for Shiva while Pura Kiduling Kreteg on the right side is for Brahma. Pura Batu Madeg is for Vishnu and located on the left. Pura Besakih has a lot of temples inside but many of the temples’ courtyards are for the pilgrims mostly.
The largest among the temples in the complex is Pura Penataran Agung has multiple areas representing seven layers of the universe. Pura Batu Madeg displays a central stone that indicates the area where the temple is sitting was already a holy place since ancient times.
History of the temple: There is a legend saying that in the 8th century, a Hindustani monk got revelations in order to build homes for people during his isolation. Thus, the construction of a shelter started and during the process, many of his followers died due to illness as well as accidents.
When the construction was over, the structure got the name Basuki, the dragon deity inhabited Mount Agung and as time passed, the name was transformed into Besakih. The other shrines in the complex were built gradually and after years, Pura Besakih was proclaimed as the main temple during the conquering of Bali by the Majapahit Empire in the year of 1343.
Highlights: Pura Besakih is the only one in Bali which is open to all equally from any caste group. It is because of the nature acting as the prime center for all ceremonies to be conducted. The temple was nominated as a World Heritage Site in 1995 but yet not conferred upon it. Other major feature of the temple is that it conducts around 70 ceremonies or celebration each year.
Timings: The best time to visit the temple is early morning and in the evening. You can get a guide to visit and explore the temple complex by paying a certain amount. Also you have to wear sarongs and sashes before you enter the temple. You can get them for rent outside the complex.
Location: Desa Besakih, Rendang, Besakih, Rendang, Kabupaten Karangasem, Bali 80863, Indonesia.