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Updated by Joanna James on Mar 12, 2018
Headline for Besakih Temple in Bali (Pura Besakih) – The Most Sacred Attraction in all of Bali
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Joanna James Joanna James
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Besakih Temple in Bali (Pura Besakih) – The Most Sacred Attraction in all of Bali

The Besakih Temple is referred to as the Mother Temple for that is the extent of sanctity that this sacred site emulates. A must visit for those holidaying in Bali, below is an overview of this attraction.

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History of Besakih Temple

Located at a height of around 1000 metres above sea level, the Besakih Temple stands tall on Mount Agung's south-western slopes and is by far the most sacred place of worship in all of Bali. For over a 1000 years, the Besakih Temple has been venerated as the Mother Temple and thousands of pilgrims have been flocking to this holy site ever since. Since bygone eras, the Pura Batu Madeg has been considered a holy site because the central stone found within, is believed to be divine. Back in the 8th century, a Hindu monk had a revelation to construct houses in this location and it was only in the completion of this project the area was named Basuki. This name was derived from the dragon god 'Naga Besukian' who the locals believed inhabited this sacred mountain. Eventually though, the name Basukih became Besakih. Over the years other shrines came up in the area however, it was only in the year 1343 that the Majapahit Emperor made Pura Besakih the main temple in the area. Nature, though, has been harsh on this site. In the years 1917 and 1963 two major volcanic eruptions took place on this mountain and lava flowed over the temple. However despite this disaster, the holy complex stood tall and this, in turn, strengthened the faith of the devout believers in the area proving to them that the Mother Temple was indeed indestructible after all!

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Highlights and Features

The Pura Penataran Agung is the largest temple in the area and consists of a number of sections, each of which represents the 7 layers of the universe. The distance between Pura Pasimpangan on the downstream side and Pura Pangubengan on the upstream side is roughly around 3 kilometres. Pura Pangubengan is the temple that is closest to Mount Agung's peak and affords some absolutely fascinating vistas. One can spend hours basking in the bird's eye views of Bali's stunning surroundings and this alone can do wonders to the soul. A few miles east from the Pura Pangubengan is the sacred Pura Batu Tirtha. This is the location where holy water is obtained for 'karya agung' ceremonies. Four of the temples in this complex reflect four different forms of the Balinese Diety at north, south, east and west points. It is a treasure-trove of sacred sites where every monument offers something to learn from and to savour.

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Getting to the Temple

The Purah Besakih is an absolutely sacred spot in Bali and is also one of the most visited tourist sites in the city. It was recognized as a World Heritage Site in the year 1995 and is an excellent place to absorb some authentic Balinese culture. Every year there is at least 70 different functions and religious ceremonies that take place within the temple premises. There are so many shrines in the area and each shrine has its own grand anniversary and in addition to this, the temple runs in accordance with the 210 day Balinese Hindu calendar system which is quite festive in itself. To have a productive tour of the temple, consider staying at a Seminyak beach resort on the island such as Anantara Seminyak Bali Resort where excursions can be organized to Mount Agung. There is a lot to learn here so it is best you equip yourself with a guide while exploring the area. Be mindful though that this is a place of worship, therefore, appropriate attire must be observed. It is customary to wear a long top, a sash and a sarong while visiting the temple. If such clothing seems foreign to you worry not for you can find plenty of little stalls where these can be purchased or rented. Also, women should refrain from visiting the temple if they are on their period. The best time to visit the temple is at dawn or dusk where the crowds are far less and the scenery is heavenly.