Bali (30 Jan 16) – East Bali Loop: Spending the Day at Pura Besakih, Mt Batur Volcano, and Sunset at Pura Tanah Lot

Bali – The Island of Gods is a mere two hours away from Singapore and is a good place for Singaporeans to visit for a weekend gateway. There are several flights a day from various airlines heading out to Bali from Singapore. My friends and I did a four day trip to Bali over a weekend on Jan 16. During our trip, we wanted to do some sightseeing, and yet cater time to rest and relax. Hence, we opted to do a day trip in Bali and spend the rest of the time in Bali lazing around in the comforts of our villa. For the day trip, we hired a driver and drive us around to some of the famous spots in Bali. Our day trip starts with our driver picking us up at our villa in Seminyak and move up north towards Pura Besakih and than to a good spot to view Mt Batur Volcano and ending up in Pura Tanah Lot for sunset.
Map of the route we took for this day trip in Bali

Pura Besakih

Perching on the side of  Mt Agung at an altitude of around 1000m above sea level is the magnificent Pura Besakih. Pura Besakih is the largest Hindu temple in Bali, affectionately known as the Mother Temple. This temple comprises of 23 individual temple complexes, built on six levels. As no cars are allowed at the base of the temple, visitors coming by their hired cars (or drivers) will arrive at the nearby carpark, which is around 1 km from the temple. Visitors are also expected to dress in Sarongs in order to visit the temple. Sarongs can be rented or purchased from the numerous stores at the carpark. Tickets to the temple are located adjacent to the carpark, however, the staffs here will pester you to contribute to the temple funds by means of a donation. Although it was put across that the donations are “voluntary”, the staffs at the ticketing counter will ensure tourists contribute to their donations. One can either walk to the base of the temple or simply hire a motorcycle taxi from the ticketing counter to the base of the temple.

At the base of the temple, visitors will be greeted by a long flight of stairways leading up to the split entrance that has been so iconic of Balinese architecture. A couple of stone statues standing guard before this stairways, as if they are there to greet visitors. Visitors touring the temple without a guide are only allowed to tour the base of the temple and only outside the gate up the long flight of stairways that lead to the second level. To be able to visit the entire temple, a local guide is required. We hired a guide (who charges us Rp25,000 per person) to take us to the various parts of Pura Besakih.

Guardian Statue at the base of Pura Besakih
The long stairways at the base of Pura Besakih leading to the second level of the temple
My friends posing with their rented sarongs at the carpark. Visitors are expected to wear a sarong when visiting Pura Besakih. Sarongs are not needed in other temples in Bali.
Taking a wefie before we head up to the stairways into Pura Besakih
Statues at the base of Pura Besakih
Looking at the base of Pura Besakih from the top of the stairways
Another guardian statue in Pura Besakih. Such statues are in abundance around the temple

Up the flight of stairways in the centre of the temple complex, we arrived at level 2 of Pura Besakih. The Pura Penataran Agung is located just beyond the gates on the top of this stairways and is the largest temple structure here in Pura Besakih. This temple complex is dedicated to the Hindu Deity Shiva, the God of Destruction. Passing the split gates, we entered the grounds of Pura Penataran Agung. There is a small courtyard before another door which leads to the inner grounds of the temple. This 3-door gate has both the side doors opened and the centre door remained shut. We were told that the centre door is meant for the King to pass through, commoners would use the side doors to enter the temple. Passing one of the side doors, a large courtyard decorated with numerous Balinese style pagodas greeted us. There are some temple buildings spread across the vast courtyard. During our visit, we witnessed at a far distance, a group of locals seemingly performing some form of prayers. Our guide informed us that these people are performing a funeral ritual, where the family of the deceased hired some priests to pray to their loved ones who have passed on. Our guide then brought us to a building, raised on stilts. This building is built for Lord Shiva to consummate with his wife. It is also believed that couples seeking fertility come and pray here for a child.

The doorway that leads into the temple nested on top of the stairways. Only royalties are allowed to use this doorway. Commons are expected to enter the temple using the 2 side doors.
A pavilion in the small courtyard before the second door into the temple. Here is where the local musicians played music for festive and prayers in the temple
Such Pagodas are a common sight around Pura Besakih. These pagodas are an icon in Balinese architecture. The roof is built using straws. Each pagoda varies in the number of tiers, but they are always in odd numbers. The tallest pagoda has 11 tiers
My friends posing in front of the pagodas in Pura Penataran Agung
Pagodas in Pura Penataran Agung
This structure is built for Lord Shiva to commensurate with his wife

Exiting Pura Penatran Agung on the left side door, our guide brought us through a small road to another part of Pura Besakih. Pura Batu Madeg is located on another level, at the northern end of Pura Besakih. Compared to Pura Penataran Agung, Pura Batu Madeg is of modest size. This temple is dedicated to the Hindi God Vishu, the God of Protection. There is also a small courtyard after passing the gates to the temple grounds and another flight of stairs built right in the middle of the courtyard. We scaled the stairs to head further into the temple. The view over the horizon from where we came from is magnificent from here. We could see as far as the coastline and the sea. As it was about to rain, our guide brought us back to the entrance of Pura Besakih via a road behind the compounds of Pura Penatran Agung. 

View of Pura Batu Madeg from Pura Penataran Agung
Pagodas in Pura Batu Madeg up close
View of the temple grounds from Pura Batu Madeg
Split entrance of Pura Batu Madeg
Pavilions for ceremonies in Pura Batu Madeg
Us at Pura Batu Madeg
Stairways leading to a higher level in Pura Batu Madeg
Stairways in Pura Batu Madeg
Guardian statue in Pura Batu Madeg
11 tiered pagoda in Pura Batu Madeg
Us on the higher level of Pura Batu Madeg (this is the highest level in Pura Besakih)
Guardian statue in Pura Batu Madeg

As we were walking on this narrow road,  there are some buildings to the left of us overlooking into Pura Penataran Agung. We were informed by our guide that this building houses the deity figurines that the locals bought and placed here. Occasionally, the owners of these figurines would make the trip up here to pay respect to the god their figurines represent. As we were walking down towards the entrance, our guide pointed out that other than gods, the locals also offer prayers to demons in abide to pray for peace. He also pointed out a part of the walls to us, informing us that this part has been part of Pura Besakih since the temple was built. No one knows how old the temple is. We headed out to meet our motorcycle drivers who brought us to the carpark to meet our driver. We are headed to our next destination.

View of Pura Penataran Agung from the side road behind the temple
Pagodas like these are a common sight in Pura Besakih
Taking a wefie with the pagodas in Pura Besakih
Another guardian statue in Pura Besakih
Guardian statues standing guard at the entrance of the temple
Parts of this wall has been around since the construction of Pura Besakih

Mt Batur Volcano

As we wanted to catch a glimpse of Mt Batur Volcano, our driver brought us to a restaurant located in Kintamani that offers a stunning view of the volcano and Danau Batur, the crater lake next to the volcano. Mt Batur Volcano is one of the few active volcanos in Bali. The volcano is essentially situated inside a larger dead volcano, with a crescent-shaped crater lake – Lake Batur accompanying the volcano, the view here is magnificent. The cool crisp mountain climate with occasional mountain breeze took the heat that we have been experiencing in Bali away. We settled our lunch here, where the restaurant served Indonesian buffet cuisine. Sitting at the outdoor pavilion overlooking the volcano, our buffet lunch here offers views that are out of this world. We could never get sick of the view from the pavilion where we were seated. Looking out at the volcano, we spotted black soil at the base of the volcano seem to point that the volcano is dormant as if it is gathering its strength to display its might once again. The active volcano seems asleep at the time of our visit.
Mt Batur Volcano
Mt Batur and a nearby mountain
Panoramic shot of Mt Batur and Danau Batur
Taking a wefie with Mt Batur
Taking a wefie with Mt Batur
View of Mt Batur from the restaurant
My friends taking wefie in front of Mt Batur Volcano
My friend with Mt Batur at the background
Shot of Mt Batur and Danau Batur
The nearby mountains
Enjoying the view of Mt Batur while lunching at one of the outdoor pavilions

Paulina Coffee Plantation – Kopi Luwak

Part of our itinerary we wanted to do a short stopover to view the iconic rice terrace in Bali along our way from Mt Batur Volcano to Tanah Lot. As we were driving towards Tanah Lot, we did a short stopover at one of the coffee plantations – Bali Paulina Coffee Plantation. The main star in this coffee plantation is the Luwak cat, the Asian Palm Civet, which produces the world’s most expensive coffee. The coffee beans used to brew the Kopi Luwak are produced by these Asian Palm Civet, which eats the coffee beans and poop them out. Due to the limited amount of excretion these cats can produce, the coffee beans gathered by the farmers fetch a very high value. As we were walking through the plantation, other than the Luwak cat, there are other crops being planted such as ginger, pineapples, cocoas to name a few. At the end of the somewhat smallish plantation, we were escorted to a terrace overlooking a rice terrace. While waiting for our samples of different coffees and teas as well as the Kopi Luwak, we headed out to a lookout point built by the owners of the plantation using timber. At this lookout point, we were able to catch a glimpse of the rice terrace in full view. These rice terrace that was before our eyes looked as if someone is growing rice in the middle of a jungle. After sampling our beverages, we headed to the gift shop and got ourselves some of the local produces.

Pandan leaves in the plantation
Some random flowers
Cocoa trees are also found in this small plantation
Random flower in the plantation
The Asian Palm Civet in the cat. This cat produces the most expensive coffee in the world
My friends waiting for the sample of coffees and tea to come
These are the coffee and tea that we sampled
Kopi Luwak- the most expensive coffee in the world
Taking a wefie at the lookout point
The terrace looks as though someone is farming in the jungles
Walking through the plantation
My friends shopping at the gift shop

Tegalalang Rice Terrace

En-route to Pura Tanah Lot, we drove past Tegalalang Rice Terrace. Rice terrace is a method of growing rice paddies, where the farmers carved out steps on the slope of the hill to grow these paddies. By using this method, the rice farmers are able to reduce erosion and support rice paddy farming, which requires irrigation. Visiting the rice terrace is by no means free, as soon as our vehicle pulls over at the curb, a local came running towards us to collect money for the viewing of rice terrace. At the time or our visit, most of the rice paddies had already been harvested, only a small quantity is left over for harvest. We could still see some of the farmers harvesting what is left for harvesting. Despite this, the rice terrace still presents itself as a magnificent sight to be awed. We went down to one of the rice terraces to take a closer look at how the rice terrace looks like up close. What we saw is essentially a shallow waterhole with some seedlings planted onto it. We left the rice terrace after taking some pictures.

Rice terrace at Tegalalang
My friends at the rice terrace
Taking wefie at Tegalalang Rice Terrace
Panoramic shot of the rice terrace

Pura Tanah Lot

Our final stop for the day is Pura Tanah Lot. The drive from Tegalalang Rice Terrace to Pura Tanah Lot usually takes around 2 hours. As we told our driver that we would want to see the sunset at Tanah Lot, he made completed the drive in 1 hour. We were in time for sunset! Pura Tanah Lot is a temple built on an island off the coast of Bali. The temple is dedicated for the prayers to the Sea Gods in Hinduism mythology. Coming from the carpark, we were at a path that leads to 2 temples on the left and the right. The temple on the right, nested on top of a rock formation out into the sea is Pura Tanah Lot. At this point, the receding coastline tells us that it is low tide, meaning we can walk over to the base of Pura Tanah Lot to receive blessings from the priest there. The temple itself is closed at the time of our visit. Even if it is open, we will not be allowed entry as only devotees who come here to pray dressed in the traditional Balinese prayer outfit will be allowed entry into the temple. After we got our blessings, since we were not able to head up to the temple grounds, we walked over to the rocks on the coastline to watch the sunset and listened to the rhythm of the waves hitting onto the coastal rocks. The sound created by the waves is very soothing, coupled with the view of the sunset, it feels like one can stay here all day long. After sunset, we headed back to the carpark to look for our driver. After all it is already dark. As the darkness fell, so did the liveliness around Pura Tanah Lot. What was bustling in the day soon turned to silence as soon as the sun called it a day. We had requested our driver to drop us a Kuta, where we had our dinner. As I always tell my friends, when visiting Bali, one will always end up in Kuta, be it for food, for massage or for shopping. With the sunsetting at Pura Tanah Lot, this concludes our day trip around (mainly) East and North of the island of Gods. We spent the next 2 days lazing around in the villa and shopping in places like Seminyak and Kuta.

There is another temple by the edge of this cliff
Pura Tanah Lot from afar. The temple is only accessible during low tide
My friends with Pura Tanah Lot at the background. This is a great place to take pictures of the temple
Wefie at Pura Tanah Lot
Sunsetting at Pura Tanah Lot
Sunset at Pura Tanah Lot
One can receive blessings at the cave beneath Pura Tanah Lot
My friends receiving blessing from the priest
My friend cleansing herself with the spring water as part of the blessing ceremony
We got our blessings from the priest
Pura Tanah Lot at sunset, lucky it is low tide now
My friends at Pura Tanah Lot
Sunset at Pura Tanah Lot
Sunset at Pura Tanah Lot
Sunset at Pura Tanah Lot
Sunset at Pura Tanah Lot
My friends at Pura Tanah Lot
Watching the sunset at Pura Tanah Lot
Pura Tanah Lot
Sunset at Pura Tanah Lot

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