With the reputation of the most beautiful and diverse tourist spot in Asia, Bali annually attracts almost 7,000,000 visitors per year from around the world. The most attractive things about Bali is about the unique culture, great panorama, beautiful sunset and sunrise, the beaches, and also for the friendly people in Bali.
This Island of God (or, you may call it The Last Paradise) has amazing cultures that could not change by the time and all the visitors whose come to Bali Island. It is almost stay the same from the first one.
Bali also has so many of beautiful places that must be visited by the Bali tourist, such as Agung Mountain, Batur Mountain, Kuta Beach, Tanjung Hill, Nusa Penida and more.
Geographically, Bali is located between Java (at east side) and Lombok (at west side). Bali is small, stretching approximately 140 km from east to west, and 80 km from north to south.
The tallest of a string of volcanic mountains that run from the east to the west is Gunung Agung (Mount Agung), which last erupted in 1963.
The majority of Bali's 4,000,000 people live, for the most part, in tight village communities with large extended families. The largest town is Denpasar, the capital city. In fact, this is the only city in Bali that we can call city.
The second large one is Singaraja in the north. The main tourist area stretches from Kuta to Seminyak. Kuta became a major attraction during the tourist boom of the 70's because of its famous white-sand beaches, the surf, and stunning sunsets.
Today, Kuta to Seminyak stretch is a major tourist destination, with thousands of hotels, bars, restaurants, and shops. Those in search of a little peace and quiet tend to head for the more sedate resorts of Sanur and Candidasa on the east cost, or Lovina in the north.
Kuta beach probably the most famous and lively beach in Bali, many of Hotel, Restaurant, Cafe, Bar, Shopping Centre and others. The new-beautiful beach in Bali is Dreamland. Located near Jimbaran and Pecatu area, it could be a great alternative for you if you are looking for a beach while in Bali.
Nusa Dua, on the southern-most peninsula of the island, houses many five-star hotels.
The central village of Ubud, in the hilly region of Gianyar, has also blossomed as a tourist attraction and is now considered to be the artistic and cultural center of Bali. Ubud is the culture and art centre, also the art shopping center.
After exploring Ubud do not forget to visit Uluwatu Temple, Rambut Siwi Temple, Tanah Lot and Lake Bedugul Beratan.
For you who love much with nightlife, you may pleased to come to Seminyak and Dhyanapura area. Many bars and nite club open until morning. Great place to spent the nite with friends.
Hindu Bali Religion and the Caste
The Hindu Bali civilization are the dominant group in Bali island, while the rest are from other areas in Indonesia such as Java, Sumatera, South East Nusa. They have caste as Hindu in India.
However, it is only strict in their religion ceremony. About 90% of Hindu Bali is Sudra caste or well know as the lowest Hindu caste.
Just like Islam in Java, Hindu is the dominant religion in Bali. It is still happening until today. The culture and religion is strongly hold by the society. This we can see, for one of example, there are still many ceremonies, day or night that people do to pray to the Shanghyang Widi.
Balinese religion is Hindu Bali. However, it is quiet different with Hindu in India. As Hindu in India, Hindu Bali worship to the three of God, Brahma, Wisnu and Syiwa, on the contrary, they also worship to the Godest, Sanghyang Widi.
Balinese believe in spirit which is live in everywhere, it indicate that animism as the base of their religion. The good spirit living in mountains which give prosperous lives for the society, on the other hand the bad spirit living in silent trees and beaches.
The Balinese make serious effort to takes their selves between both of the spirits. The worshiped is not only gave to the good spirit in the morning, but also to the bad spirit.
Pura : A Balinese Temple
Pura is a Balinese temple, the place where a Hindu Balinese society pray to the God, or SangHyang Widi. Pura can be found everywhere in every corner of Bali. But Balinese don't use the place in daily activity, because of that sometime Pura is so quiet.
On the Balinese calendar, some events described as a holy days, Balinese believe that the God and spirits will be there inside the Pura and meeting with the visitors. In these events in conditions in Pura will be very crowded as many peoples gathering there almost at the same time.
One of the biggest event in Bali and most important event in Balinese calendar is Galungan. This event will be held continuously in 10 days in Bali island. Most of the offices will be closed during this event, at least at the two first day of the event running.
Everybody can entering the temple in Bali, including tourist, except there is a special ceremony inside the pura. All visitors must wearing a respectful cloth if they want entering the pura.
If there is a tourist only wearing a short pant the officer of the pura will ask him / her to wearing some kind of Sarong at free. But sometime they charge for some thousand rupiahs for the sarong.
KEBAYA AND SEMBAHYANG?
A Kebaya is a woman's blouse worn with a sarong. It is a traditional Indonesian costume and is considered formal wear for women. What is known as the kebaya today is said to have originated in Java in the 17th century. Kebaya is a common dress in all Java territory: East Java and Central Java, as well.
Until today, kebaya is still related to use in any occasional. Especially a formal occasional event such as attending a wedding ceremony, an invitation from a government office, graduation ceremony, etc.
It is still quiet popular among the woman (adult and young) in Indonesia. For for the men, they can use for any formal cloth, such as batik or coat.
After the 19th century, Dutch women who came to Indonesia during the Dutch colonial era liked wearing the kebaya with a sarong which helped to make the dress sophisticated. After Indonesia became independent, the kebaya was made the formal dress for the women of Indonesia.
The style differs from region to region. In Bali, which is dominated by Hindus, it is worn with a shawl tied around the waist. This is said to mean that you are facing a god. As the material, until now a thin and see-through polyester cloth with embroidery, has been generally used, but recently cotton cloth has also become popular.
As the kebaya is tailored to fit each individual by taking very detailed measurement, it accentuates the women's body, as women in Bali compete with each other in beauty by wearing the kebaya. Regarding the quality of the cloth, it is depend on the material chosen.
More expensive the material price, more comfortable and nice the kebaya will look. The color itself is vary, from natural color until the one which is eye catching like red colour.
Sembahyang means to pray in Indonesian. Balinese women visit a temple to pray wearing a formal dress and carrying an offering. When they pray, they have Canang and incense sticks ready. By putting their hands together, reciting a mantra, they face the Gods.
Another word of sembahyang is Offering. Balinese doing some offering almost everyday. We can easily see Balinese are doing this (usually in the morning) along the road, near the office or home, at the market, etc.
The offering can be done in a group, like in the temple, or by his/her self such as in the house. In some event, we can also see a child is doing the offering activity, alone or accompanied by their parent.
Three Major Temples of Bali
In Indonesia, a country dominated by Muslims, Bali remains an island of Hindus with 85 percent of its population following that religion. Solemn temples and the Hindu culture are what make Bali more than just a beach resort, producing such enchanting phrases as The Island of Gods and Paradise on Earth.
Among more than 20.000 temples in Bali, these are two major ones, which are also extremely popular tourist spots. A visit to these temples is a must on a trip to Bali.
Pura Luhur Uluwatu (Uluwatu Temple)
This temple was built around the 11th century on the edge of a 70 meter high cliff overlooking the vast Indian Ocean. The evening sun descending on the ocean turns the sky bright red and the temple sillhouette seems to emerge from another world. Only Hindus are allowed to go inside the temple. But there is a path around it, which allows you to walk close to the edge of the cliff. Uluwatu means cape.
Pura Luhur Tanah Lot (Tanah Lot Temple)
The temple with its mystical and beautiful outline emerging in the evening sky is one of the most popular picture taking spots in Bali. It is built on a huge rock and at high tide, as the water surrounds the temple, it looks as if it is floating in the ocean. The name Tanah Lot is said to have come from tengah lot, meaning a place of land in the middle of ocean. It is said to have been built in the 15th century.
Pura Besakih (Besakih Mother Temple)
Besakih Temple, the head temple of Bali Hinduism. This is the biggest-most important temple in Bali. The temple is situated halfway up the sacred Mount Agung, the highest peak in Bali, is revered as the Mother Temple by the people of Bali.
Besakih temple is a complex of temple. Inside the temple there are about 23 other smaller temple. The biggest and most important one is Pura Penataran Agung.
The Besakih Temple is open from 8am to 5pm, everyday. But, if you visit the temple with your Balinese friend, they are open for 24 hours for you.
If you are standing inside the complex of these temples, the view is so spectacular. With the background of Agung Mountain it is one of the best panorama that must be pictured as well in the tourist cameras.
It would be more fun for you when visiting the temple, if at the same time there is a celebration of one the event of Balinese calendar, held right inside the temple. The festive is so glamour, which the prayers coming in a big group, wearing the colorful of clothes, and not forget for the fruits above their heads.
The Balinese society cannot be a part from the dance. Almost every religion activities, dance is always involved. For the Balinese, dance just like an offering for something to the God. Most of them, especially for the woman, they surely able to perform some dance.
Traditionally, Balinese dances can be categorized into 3 of group: tari wali (sacred dance), tari bebali (ceremony dance) and tari balih-balihan (showbiz dance).
Below are some popular dances in Bali:
Tari Legong (Legong Dance)
Legong Dance is a Balinese clasic dance with the complex-rhythm of movement. This dance performed by two or more girl with the central personage Condong. The special thing about Legong dance is the used of the fan by the dancer.
Tari Barong (Barong Dance)
Barong is the personage in Balinese mythology. He is the king from the spirits as the symbol of the kindness. Barong is the enemy of the badness, Rangda.
Tari Kecak (Kecak Dance)
This dance was created in 1930 by Wayan Limbak and the painter Walter Spies. Wayan Limbak is the one who make the dance become popular not only in Bali or Indonesia, but also to the world. Most of Kecak dancers is a man.
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