When the heat and humidity finally start to grate, Bedugul is the perfect escape. Tucked into the crater of an extinct volcano 1,400 meters above the sea level, it is a highland retreat. Three lakes provide everything for outdoor recreation from springs, rivers and rice fields below. Lush pine forests seem to create a freshness in the air. Bedugul is known for its fine fruits, vegetables, flowers, plants and spices which are all displayed in the market.
Known as the Mother Temple of Bali, the Besakih sanctuary on the slopes of Mount Agung is the biggest and holiest of all Balinese temple. Over a thousand years old, steep steps ascend through split gates to the main courtyard, where the Trinity shrines, wrapped in cloth, and decorated with flower offerings. Around the main temples dedicated to the Trinity: Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu, are 18 separate sanctuaries belonging to the different regencies and caste groups. To the Balinese, a visit to the temple is a special pilgrimage. Each has its own anniversary celebration, or Odalan. The sight of the temple against the backdrop of the holy mountain is impressive, and during festivals, colored banners add a touch of gaiety.
Synonymous with silver and goldsmiths, Celuk’s art shops beckon visitors with sterling silver and gold, gem-studded bracelets and earrings. Balinese smiths is largely and art passed down in family. Visitor may observe workshops, which are often small rooms or work areas with five to 20 workers, some not even in their teens. Many fine jewelers dwell here off the beaten track.
Mas village is best known for its intricate woodcarvings and masks. The historical importance of Mas should not be overlooked. Its inhabitants are primarily Brahmans, the priestly caste, tracing their roots to Danghyang Nirartha the founder of the village’s Pura Taman Pule.
Denpasar, the capital city of Bali province, squeezed between Batubulan and Ubung to the north, Sanur to the east and Kuta to the southwest, is a bustling city center for administrative, commercial and educational services to Bali and much of eastern Indonesia. The central market is a beehive of activity where Balinese and tourist can be found shopping side-by-side, government offices and banks abound, and the traffic rivals that of Jakarta. Yet in the center of the mayhem is the Werdhi Budhaya Art Center, Pura Jagatnatha and the Bali Museum.
Balinese Hinduism’s unique blend of Hindu and Buddhist elements is most apparent in the sacred relics of Goa Gajah, the Elephant Cave. Goa Gajah dates to at least the 11th century. Excavated in the 1950s, the cave entrance is a open-mouthed giant’s head flanked by hands that appear to be pushing away the surrounding rock face.