Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
The precise origins of Pura Besakih are not
totally clear, but it almost certainly dates from
prehistoric times. The stone bases of Pura
Penataran Agung and several other temples
resemble megalithic stepped pyramids, which
date back at least 2000 years. There are legen-
dary accounts of Sri Dangkyang Markendaya
conducting meditation and ceremonies here
in the 8th century AD, while stone inscrip-
tions record a Hindu ritual on the site in AD
1007. There are some indications of Buddhist
activity, but it was certainly used as a Hindu
place of worship from 1284, when the first
Javanese conquerors settled on Bali, and this
is confirmed by accounts from the time of
the Majapahit conquest in 1343. By the 15th
century, Besakih had become a state temple
of the Gelgel dynasty.
The central temple was added to over the
years, and additional temples were built for
specific family, occupational and regional
groups. The complex was neglected during
the colonial period, perhaps because of lack of
royal patronage, and was virtually destroyed
in the 1917 earthquake. The Dutch assisted
Sidemen has a spectacular location and
is a centre for culture and arts, particularly
endek (ikat) cloth and songket, which is woven
with threads of silver and gold. German artist
Walter Spies lived in Iseh for some time from
1932 in order to escape the perpetual party
of his own making in Ubud. Later, the Swiss
painter, Theo Meier, nearly as famous as Spies
for his influence on Balinese art, lived in the
same house.
There are many walks through the rice fields
and streams in the multihued green valley.
One involves a climb up to Pura Bukit Tageh , a
small temple with big views.
Sidemen Road can be a beautiful part of any
day-trip from South Bali or Ubud. It connects
in the north with the Rendang to Amlapura
Rd just west of Duda. The road is in good
shape and regular bemo shuttle up and down
from Semarapura.
tion intensives and yoga. The eight comfort-
able bungalows have hot water and some are
well suited to families and groups.
Sacred Mountain Sanctuary (
with its reconstruction, and the dependent
rajahs were encouraged to support the main-
tenance of the temples.
24330; www.sacred
The main entrance, the Tourist Fee Office,
is 2km south of the complex on the road
from Menanga and the south. The fees are
as follows: adult/child 7500/6000Rp, still
camera 1000Rp, video camera 2500Rp and
car park 1000Rp. The fact that you may well
be charged for a video camera whether you
have one or not gives you a taste of things
to come.
About 200m past the ticket office, there
is a fork in the road with a sign indicating
Besakih to the right and Kintamani to the
left. Go left because going to the right puts
you in the main parking area at the bottom
of a hill some 300m from the complex. Going
past the road to Kintamani, where there is
the small West Ticket Office, puts you in
the north parking area only 20m from the
complex. Snack stands and warung are found
along the trash-strewn approaches and at
both parking lots.
) Close to
the river, this remote and rusticated resort has
a new age vibe and a huge spring-fed swim-
ming pool. The 19 bamboo villas have open-
air bathrooms and many artistic touches. The
resort can arrange treks of Gunung Agung
(from US$55), as well as a range of courses.
Massage is available. The restaurant, where
dishes range from 20,000Rp to 35,000Rp, fea-
tures Thai and vegetarian cuisine.
Elsewhere on the Sidemen Road are these
two good choices.
Pondok Wisata Sidemen (; villas US$90-140;
23009; r 200,000-
400,000Rp) At the south end of Sidemen, this
place has four clean, simple rooms with four-
poster beds and great views. Accommoda-
tion includes a fine breakfast and dinner of
traditional Balinese foods. You can arrange
courses in local art and music.
Patal Kikian (
Sleeping & Eating
Views throughout the area are often spec-
tacular, from terraced green hills to Gunung
Agung. Places to stay always have restaurants
and can give advice or set you up for walk-
ing tours.
Near the centre of Sidemen, a small road
heads west for 500m to a fork and a signpost
with the names of several places to stay.
Lihat Sawah (
Two kilometres north of Sidemen, look for
a steep driveway on the eastern side of the
road. This retreat has four spacious, stylishly
furnished villas with vast verandas overlook-
ing terraced hillsides one of the best views
in East Bali. Rates include all meals, which
are served as private banquets on your own
veranda. Rooms have hot water and there is
a soaking pool.
Perched nearly 1000m up the side of Gunung
Agung is Bali's most important temple, Pura
Besakih. In fact, it is an extensive complex of
23 separate-but-related temples, with the larg-
est and most important being Pura Penataran
Agung. Unfortunately, many people find it a
deeply disappointing experience due to the
avarice of numerous local characters. See An
Unholy Experience on p219 for the details,
which may well help you to decide whether
to skip it. Another disincentive to visit is that
tourists are usually barred from entering the
Besakih, as it is known, is at its most im-
pressive during one of the frequent festi-
vals, when hundreds, perhaps thousands, of
/fax 23005; villas US$50-70;
200 m
0.1 miles
/fax 24183; r 150,000-250,000Rp;
dishes 12,500-25,000Rp) Take the right fork in the
road to this very friendly place with great gar-
dens. All nine rooms (the cheapest have cold
water) have views of the valley and moun-
tain. The surrounding rice fields course with
Tanto Villa (
Pura Pengubengan
Pura Peninjoan
Pura Tirta
Pura Batu
Pura Gelap
081-2395 0271; r US$20-40) Views
of the Luwah Valley are the appeal at this
modern place, which has four large and com-
fortable rooms with hot water. Two upstairs
rooms have the best views of the surrounding
chilli, bean and peanut fields.
Subak Tabola Inn (
Pura Jenggala
Pura Kiduling
Warungs &
Souvenir Shops
To Kintamani
Set in a shockingly green amphitheatre of
rice terraces, the 11 rooms here have a bit of
style and open-air bathrooms. Verandas have
amazing views down the valley to the ocean.
The grounds are spacious and there's a cool
pool with frog fountains. It's near the 2km
hotel signpost.
23015; r from US$25;
Pura Banua Kawan
Pura Ulun
Pura Merajan
Pura Goa
Pura Bangun Sakti
To Tourist Fee
Office (2km)
Manik Mas
Souvenir Stalls
Warungs &
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