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iXiGOers Dec 09 2012

Which are the popular sightseeing places in Bali?

Nitin Gurha DEC 10 2012
0 people found this answer useful Useful ?Yes

The original bohemian island—Bali began its stint on the tourism circuit as a backpacker's paradise, with roots running deeply into mystical and all that is spiritual and sacred. Having been engulfed in the wave of tourism that followed, Bali has only increased its range of offerings to serve all palates. But there's more to this sequestered Indonesian retreat than splendid beaches and hotbed of nightlife. Revealing a slice of raw, ancient Balinese culture that will enthrall you with its mellow vibe and rich culture, some of the popular sightseeing places in Bali are:

Mandala Wisata Wanara Wana (Sacred Monkey Forest)

Bali’s symmetry with nature is reflected strikingly in the Sacred Monkey Forest where the revered long tailed macaque swings from the branches of 115 different species of trees that too are considered sacred and holy. The forest is owned or rather cared for by the village of Padangtegal, located 20 km north of Denpasar in Ubud.

A sacred Balinese Hindu site, the forest is actually the location for Padantegal’s Pura Delam-within Balinese culture temples (pura) have 3 major sites-Pura Desa (associated with God Brahma, where community councils pray and govern), Pura Puseh (temples of origin), located towards the kaja (upstream) end of villages and associated with the God Vishnu, dedicated to remembering the founders of villages and finally Pura Delam (temples of the dead), located towards the kelod (downstream) end of villages, associated with the God Siwa and have graveyards. Known as 'the destroyer' God Siwa’s spiritual function is to destroy negativity in the world.

The forest’s Main temple has a an outer courtyard or jaba where you will have to wait your turn to offer prayers. Scan around and you can see 2 pavilions on either ends, one is used by the gamelan orchestra while the other is used for dance performances during rituals and ceremonies. You will not be allowed inside the  inner courtyard or Jeroan where the main deity resides. The temple priest directs the prayers of all worshippers to the temple Gods and then blesses you with the holy water.

Walk down a long flight of stairs in the north west section of the forest and right next to a stream is the Bathing temple. In the center of the temple lies the Madya Mandala or holy pool. Take the second flight of stairs and you will reach the Nista Mandala, the bathing place for humans and said to have curative properties.

The forest’s third temple, the Cemetery and Cremation temple, is actually a cemetery where people are buried, only to be cremated later when their families have enough funds for the elaborate and sacred ritual.

There is scant data on the origins of the temples except that it could have been either built by the Pejeng Dynasty in the 14th century or by the Majapit empire that followed it. Continue on the track that lead you up to the main temple and it will lead you to Nyuhkuning, a  small village known for woodcarving.

Throughout your visit to the forest and its temples, you will have swinging troops of long tailed macaques accompanying you and no, not in a cute way. These primates are revered and loathed by the locals in equal measure due to their gangster ways. They will be more than happy to strike a pose and have their pictures clicked, but will have a go for any dangling or shining object on you. Though you are not allowed to feed them, you will find stalls selling bananas and peanuts for precisely that purpose. Be a lot wary if you do decide to feed them and try and control your urge to return those monkey faces with some of your own-it will not be appreciated, at all.

Bali Orchid Garden

Close to Sanur is the beautiful, lush, spectacle of flowers at the Bali Orchid Garden. Throughout the year, especially in spring, the garden is one giant carpet of tropical wild flowers, foliage plants and yes, orchids blooming in absolute glory. Here you can not only be dazzled by the brilliant display of flower power, but can also take some of the magic back with you, to either your hotels or even back home. The garden can arrange for flasks of orchids for taking overseas. Complementing the magical wonderland is a quaint restaurant where you can take the excuse of lingering over your cup of rich Kopi Luwak, a range of unique heavenly coffee that the garden has trademark over, to spend some of your truly amazing moments of Bali. On your 3rd cup and find yourself developing a taste for Kopi Luwak? You can buy the beans from the outlet in the garden at wholesale prices.

Puri Saren Agung (Ubud Water Palace)

Situated in Ubud, the palace was the royal residence and seat of governance of Ubud’s local rulers beginning with Ida Tjokorda Putu Kandel who had it built in the late 19th century. Still very much a royal residence, many members of the royal family live here, and if you come across any member they will be more than happy to show you around their palatial residence. In fact, trying to catch one of the royal family members might be a good idea to explore the palace since there are no signs explaining what you are looking at.

The palace is a series of pavilions, ornamented and decorated at places with Balinese carvings and ornaments or colonial era European furniture. The palace is an excellent place to view the Balinese architecture wherein each building is separated according to its function. Wander through the complex and first on your way, near the entrance, is the gamelan room,an open air building where every night traditional Balinese performances are held. Head out to the east part where a lush tropical garden greets you with its brilliant foliage and mythical figures standing guard. In the north-east portion is the royal family’s temple where there is private shrine of the king. The palace has a beautiful, massive Barong mask.

Taman Ujung Water Palace

With nature having reigned much of its might and force over Taman Ujung Water Palace, what with the volcanic eruption of Mount Agung in 1963 and the earthquake of 1979, the Water Palace was pretty much wiped into oblivion until 2004 when it was rebuilt, though with little regard to its former splendour. Built by Karangasem King Anak Agung Anglurah as one of his three water palaces, it was his own private oasis. The original palace was enclosed within a bale of stucco and stained glass, with a smaller open pavilion inside surrounded by a large pool. Today what you see is a remnant of the old palace. What makes this site a must see is the natural splendour that has run wild around it, including the 3 large ponds filled with water foliage, fountains, sculptures and mythical stone statues and figures. The main building standing in the middle of the largest pool with 2 bridges connecting it to either side is called Balai Gili and used to be the main residence of the royal family. A flight of stairs leads up to the highest pavilion to a hall called Balai Kapal, marked by a huge rhinoceros statue called Balai Warak, from where the entire panorama of Taman Ujung stretches out in front of you.

The journey to the palace as well as the exploration of the surrounding regions takes you through the heart of earthy Bali, way off from the touristy Bali with all its razzle dazzle. Here, you can get some very beautiful, unbroken views of Mount Agung. Soft and romantic, the ambience is evocative of earlier times.

The entry fee is Rp 10,000.

Taman Tirta Gangga

Built in 1946 by the predecessor of the King of Karangasem who built Taman Ujung Water Palace, and lying at some distance from it is the Taman Tirta Gangga Water Palace (translating to water from the Ganges). Preferred water palaces of the two by locals and tourists alike, the palace too fell in the way of the molten lava when Mount Agung erupted and was damaged in consequence. Unlike Taman Ujung, it was rebuilt and restored to much of its original magnificence. One look at the palace and you can understand why-grander, more opulent and more ornate. At the palace complex, you will have before you a beautiful maze of pools and gargoyle fountains. The garden is lush with greenery throughout the year and is filled with stone carvings and statues. The eleven-tiered fountain in the center will immediately lure you towards it. With its old world charm and magnificent surroundings, it is yet another place you will want to set your base in forever. You can also take a bathe in the pools, though at a charge.

What enhances, if possible, the charm and draw of Taman Tirta Gangga Water Palace are the rice paddy terraces stretching out in the horizon and the narrow lanes and paths threading around and away from it, with a magnetic pull of their own and just waiting to be explored.

The entry fee is Rp 5,000.

  • Stone Pillar

At the Prasasti Blanjong temple in Jalan Danau Poso, Sanur, is a famous stone pillar that is inscribed with ancient text from the 10th century, the oldest recorded writing and the oldest known artifact in Bali. The text details the arrival of a Javanese king from the Mahayana Buddhist kingdom, who brought significant cultural and religious influences to the island. He established Bali’s first formal government. The temple in itself is a must visit and a major religious destination of Sanur.

Steer clear of the well-treaded paths, where the mass is clustered, and set course for Bali’s tropical heart in true backpacker style. There, you'll discover the arresting scenery of terraced, rice paddy backdrops, beaches that are still splendidly idyllic, volcanic mountains, shipwrecks-all wrapped up in a rich, intriguing culture.

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