Bali...Bali...Bali...brings back a flood of memories. My recent trip to Bali was a 'culturally enriching' experience. Bali is not only about beaches and surfing but more so about Hinduism, elaborate rituals, typically styled temples, rich art and its vibrant culture.
That's the traditional Balinese greeting :)
Ubud is the cultural hub of Bali though beach spots like Kuta, Seminyak and Nusa Dua area are the touristy party zones, famous with honeymooners, sea-food lovers and surfers. Well, I fell in love with Ubud where the essence ranged from ancient temples amidst crowded roads to animated cafes with tourists to glamourous shops a surrounded by tropical green environment. I was amazed at the presence of highly evolved art and sculpture in the city. This was the first sculpture I stumbled upon as soon as I took to the road.
My first temple visit in Bali was to the Gunung Kawi. This 11th century temple is enlisted as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. A long flight of steps lead to this serene temple. The rock carved mountains were magnificent. In fact there were 2 similar rock carved mountains facing each other, their mirror-image views blocked by a row of trees amidst them.
A note to all tourists: The entry ticket includes the rent price of sarong, so don't bother carrying one or haggling with the shopkeepers just outside the temple.
|Gunung Kawi Temple|
My next visit was to the Besakih temple that is considered as 'Mother Temple' by Balinese here. And fortunately that was a full moon day. So the entire temple complex was brimming with the hustle-bustle of local Balinese people in traditional attire, offering prayers. This is a very artistically styled huge temple complex. Here you need to be fully clothed or carry your sarong along if you are in shorts.
View of a part of Besakih Temple from the top. It is a magnificent temple, not to be missed at all.
This is the main temple complex where a huge gathering is seen offering prayers. Footwear is allowed inside the temple unlike the temples in India. I was fortunate enough to get a guide who showed the entire temple complex and also helped us in offering prayers 'Balinese' style.
This is our helpful guide posing with my husband and brother-in-law on either sides. They loved sporting the traditional 'snake-turbans' in their entire trip of Bali.
And, this is the grand exit of the Besakih temple. Obviously not a very elderly friendly place. Most of the temples in Bali have numerous steps.
Most of the in-city tourist sights are at a comfortable walking distance from any hotel. Ubud Palace is a small, nondescript place; nothing very spectacular about it. However another beautiful temple by name of Saraswati Temple close to Ubud Palace is quite attractive and serene.
And here comes the very famous Monkey Forest of Ubud. Its quite an aesthetically designed place with well trained monkeys. However take care of your sunglasses and mobile unless you are charitable enough to lose them to the monkeys!
Bali is also famous for its various styles of dancing namely Kecak dance, Barong dance and fire dance and many more. Since I was in Ubud for only a few days, I could manage to fit in only one dance performance in my travel schedule- Kecak and Fire dance. Kecak is a slow style dancing depicting different stories from Ramayana epic. The fire dance was a pleasant surprise and it seemed more like an act than a dance.
A note to tourists: Don't forget to take in your Bintang beer and other refreshments before taking your seat for the performance. Also keep away from bright lights since moths are a major problem during evening performances.
Before going for the dance performance, I strolled in this colourful and artistic local market of Ubud. This market became much famous after being visited by Julia Roberts for the movie, 'Eat, Pray and Love'. Well, the young shopkeeper was kind enough to pose with us after we purchased a couple of trinkets from her shop.
A note to tourists: Brush up your bargaining skills before you venture to Bali ;)
|Local Street Market|
This is just a window to Bali...more is yet to come.