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Bali Beyond Beaches – Discover the Spiritual Heart of This Beachy Paradise

With over 20,000 Pura or Temples spread across the country, the beautiful island of Bali is rich in spiritual heritage. From daily offerings to the devotion shown in their everyday life, the Balinese create undeniable energy that leaves an impression on everyone visiting the country. In their gentle way of living, the local culture is firmly rooted in meditation and a continuous cycle of personal growth. Blessed with many such spiritual spots, a visit here will help you to delve upon your inner self. To deepen your experience of visiting the country, here are some of the top sacred sites in Bali.

Mount Agung

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Mount Agung is not just the tallest but also the most majestic mountain in Bali. It is worshipped by Balinese people as the dwelling of gods, especially Mahadewa, a manifestation of Lord Shiva. The local people also believe this mountain to be a replica of Mount Meru or Mahameru, which is the sacred five-peaked mountain and is considered to be the centre of the whole metaphysical universe. Due to the challenging landscape, hiring a local guide is highly recommended. Before starting the hike, guides and locals take blessings from one of the mountain temples, asking for safety and guidance. Beef of any kind is prohibited in the section and it is advised to be mindful of restriction signs.

Besakih Temple

(C) Wikipedia Commons

With a compound comprising of 18 temples scattered over a vast area, the Besakih temple is the biggest in Bali. Perched on the jungly slopes of the great Mount Agung, it has been a place of Hindu worship since 1284. It is said that it was built by a Hindu devotee from India called Rsi Markandeya and has since then become the centre of religious activities on the island. Every year at least 70 ceremonies take place here. Though it is now open to the public, certain parts are reserved for religious activities.

Mount Batur

(C) Batur

Popular as a spectacular sunrise spot in Bali, not many realise that it is one of the four primary sacred mountains in Bali. Despite being the smallest among four, it is one of the most active volcanoes in Bali; sitting on a huge crater formed when it erupted thousands of years ago. When a massive eruption happed in 1926, an entire village had been wiped out, however, a holy shrine inside the temple was perfectly preserved. Due to its volcanic activity, it is considered to be a dwelling of Lord Brahma, who is symbolised with a fire ring. Locals give offerings to the mountain to purify the area from evil and maintain a balance between nature’s elements.   

Ulun Danu Batur Temple

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When the volcano erupted on Mount Batur in 1926, everything was wiped out including a huge temple at its foot. However, the temple’s most vital shrine remained intact, an 11-tiered Meru roof dedicated to the rule of water, Goddess Danu. Locals took this shrine further up the mountain and rebuilt another temple along the slopes. With scenic views of Lake Batur and Mount Batur in the backdrop, tourists are drawn to this tall temple architecture. With 285 shrines and nine temples, it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Bali. It also holds a very important role for the locals who depend on the water goddess to bless their fields.

Lempuyang Luhur Temple

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Sitting on the peak of Mount Lempuyang in East Bali, Lempuyang Luhur Temple is one of the oldest temples in Bali. While there is no documentation on it, locals believe it was built when the Earth was just 70 years old, along with Besakih temple and Ulun Danu temple by Lord Pashupati and his children to help stabilize the island’s nature. Even with its breathtaking architecture and mountain views, it is not easy to climb up 1700 steps towards the temple. Locals, however, believe that those who complain will never make it to the top. During Hindu holy days and the full moon, devotees embark on a pilgrimage to seek blessings and holy water.

Ubud Secret Monkey Forest

(C) Wikipedia Commons

More than a habitat for monkeys and trees, the area also has three holy temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, Goddess Gangaa and Lord Brahma Prajapati. While the temple is open only for religious activities, tourists can also observe the architecture and symbolic scriptures inside the temple. With a calming ambience, even the trees inside this forest are significant in local customs and are often regarded as sacred and used in religious customs.