- Place or Religious Monument
- Place or Historical Monument
The Temple of Pura Besakih is in fact an immense complex of 23 temples linked together, of which the most important is the Pura Penataran Agung, which spreads across 6 levels which are accessed by large staircases. The site is truly grandiose and on my visit, the temple was misty, making the atmosphere even more special. Rain for a quarter of an hour had made me take shelter in a drawn back temple, by one which only spoke their language, and we tried to communicate by acting out the weather and that bad weather happens, a good experience!
Once arrived at the top of the temple, the view out onto the region definitely makes the climb worth it. After going through, you may have the chance to see a religious ceremony, I also encourage you to explore the more hidden nooks and crannies, there are beautiful discoveries to be made. One of the places not to miss from an itinerary to Bali.
There are a multitude of temples to visit in Bali but Besakih is definitely the most impressive and the most sumptuous. From high on a mountain it reigns benevolently over the island, and is an absolute must see during a trip to Indonesia.
Nonetheless, my visit started badly. Entry into Besakih is subject to a donation - of your own choosing. But if you don't give enough the Balinese insist that you give more, a minimum of £7, which isn't particularly expensive for us Europeans but is very high for Bali. So in reality you have to pay to get in, and how much depends on the person on the door, who will do their best to make you take a guide who, obviously, you will also have to pay. One of my friends, having a guide book on Besakih, didn't want a guide and he had to explain that if he paid for a guide as well (about £35) then he wouldn't bother visiting the temple because it would be too expensive. Exceptionally, he was allowed to go in without a guide.
Actually, in the end although I was happy I had the guide with me (I negotiated the price a bit) in order to better understand the temple and its different sites, I wasn't happy about the way they went about it, which unfortunately is becoming more and more common in Bali. Are you a tourist? Then it's your wallet that they are after. Once upon a time bargaining was normal but now it is becoming more and more difficult. I thought some of the locals, especially the women, were very aggressive when I tried to bargain. But don't let that stop you going to see Besakih because it is really worth a visit.
The temple is so big that you can easily get lost - there is a multitude of altars, sanctuaries and statues. My most vivid memory of Besakih is the staircase at the entrance which seems to go up to the sky, followed by the innumerable pyramid shaped roofs - a city in the clouds with the beautiful Agung volcano in the background, when it deigns to come out from behind the mist!