The Best Culture Holidays in Bali, Indonesia


This is The Best Culture Holidays in Bali, Indonesia, based on my subjective experience pick of the top 5 cultural holidays in Bali, Indonesia for 2015/16, in destinations including Ubud, Tabanan, Karangasem, and Badung.

The Best Culture Holidays in Bali, Indonesia, Bali’s highlands and coasts are home to many ancient temples. Several of them have become the island’s most iconic landmarks, featuring magnificent centuries-old architecture and set against the exotic backdrops. Lively processions, ornate decorations and festivity take place during temple anniversaries, which come around twice a Gregorian year based on a local 210-day calendar.

On any other day, they are great places to visit at least once during your visits to Bali, Indonesia. Each temple is unique. Be it the cloudy peaks of Mount Agung at the Besakih ‘mother temple’, the mysterious ruins of Goa Gajah, or the golden sunsets and silhouettes of Uluwatu and Tanah Lot. Proper conduct and temple attire comprising a waist cloth (sarong) and sash are required, available for rental or donation fees at all sites.

1. Tanah Lot
Tanah Lot

Perhaps the most frequently featured temple on Bali’s postcards due to its unique offshore setting and sunset backdrops, Tanah Lot also happens to be one of Bali’s most important temples. Tanah Lot is located on the coast of Beraban village in the Tabanan regency, featuring an ancient Hindu shrine perched on top of an outcrop amidst constantly crashing waves. It is simply among Bali’s not-to-be-missed highlights on tours to Bali’s west, but is also an easy standalone trip – only a 45-minute drive from Kuta. The onshore site consists of smaller onshore village temples alongside visitors’ leisure facilities that comprise restaurants, shops and a cultural park presenting regular dance performances. The best time to visit is during the holy day of Kuningan, when pilgrimages usually take place, and on the temple’s anniversary five days after.

Tanah Lot Highlights and Features

After centuries of large waves persistently crashing at its rock base, Tanah Lot faced the constant threat of erosion, reaching a significant decline in 1980. The authorities carried out preservation efforts to Tanah Lot and other historical sites island-wide with aid from the Japanese government. Fully restored, a third of the present Tanah Lot is actually artificial rock.

At high tide, waves flood the causeways making it impossible to cross. At low tide, you may cross to view the rock base where the legendary ‘guardian’ sea snakes dwell in crevices around the Tirta Pabersihan fountain. This natural spout is the source of holy water for all the temples in the area. Priests at the fountain bless visitors by sprinkling holy water over their heads. You can cup your palms and take a sip to prove it is amazingly fresh water.

Onshore temples include the Penyawang, a spiritual proxy to Tanah Lot that hosts pilgrims when the main offshore temple is inaccessible during high tide. Other smaller temples around the site host prayer sessions for various aspects of the villagers’ agrarian life, from good rice harvests to rites of passage. North of Tanah Lot is Batu Bolong, similarly built on a rock formation with a ‘hollow’ overpass linking to the mainland.

Convenient pathways and well-kept tropical gardens line the grounds from Tanah Lot to Batu Bolong, with resting spots offering shades and good viewpoints to both outcrops. Art shops selling souvenirs and curios of all sorts line the pathway from the parking area to the temple, also with peddlers selling traditional snacks such as jaja kelepon –yummy, must-try palm sugar-filled gelatinous balls rolled in grated coconut.

Good to Know and What Not to Miss

Although you cannot enter the temple grounds, the panoramic views and cultural offerings are highlights to enjoy. On the holy day of Kuningan, five days prior to the temple’s anniversary date, the heirloom pilgrimage is one of Bali’s festive parades worth witnessing. Tanah Lot’s piodalan falls on every Wednesday that follows each Kuningan on Bali’s 210-day Pawukon calendar. Dress and act respectfully as on any temple visit in Bali.

Following are the corresponding dates for future anniversaries at Tanah Lot:

– 29 July 2015
– 24 February 2016

Large waves near the rocks are hazardous, therefore always take extreme care and obey warning signs. For further safety measures, members of the Balawista lifeguards take shifts to lend a watchful eye at several key points along the coast. Entrance tickets and parking coupons include insurance coverage.

On combined day tours, try reaching Tanah Lot in the early afternoon to explore the site, then head on to the Surya Mandala Cultural Park’s grand open stage near Batu Bolong to see the sunset Kecak ‘fire dance’ performances (held daily from 18:30 onwards), then stay on for dinner at one of the restaurants on Sunset Terrace. Here you can enjoy Western and Asian selections, as well as Bali’s favourite spicy sauced grills and seafood – paired with an ice-cold beer and 15m high views over the temple.

The nearest five-star resort, the Pan Pacific Nirwana Bali, features a Greg Norman-designed 18-hole golf course that flanks the temple, providing a unique golfing experience and a clear view of Tanah Lot from its signature Hole 7.

 Tanah Lot Temple
  • Opening Hours: 07:00 – 19:00
  • Location: Jalan Raya Tanah Lot, Beraban Village, Kediri, Tabanan
  • How to get there: Pass the Pan Pacific Nirwana Bali Resort until reaching the end of the street.

Cont..

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