Bali has become synonymous with all that is beautiful and exotic.
And rightly so. For Bali is a beautiful island of palm fringed beaches, coral ringed lagoons and soaring volcanoes; inhabited by beautiful people with a unique tradition of music, dance, painting, sculpture, architecture, drama and poetry.
Despite its popularity with the rich and famous, Bali remains a land of surprises where you can still experience real adventure, discover untouched places and witness exotic rituals unlike anything you've ever seen before.
An old famous center of the arts, it is known for its dancing, wood panel carving and paintings.
Northeast of Denpasar, the village of Celuk is noted for its silver and gold works of jewelry in many styles.
A village of wood carvers, many of Bali's old masters still live here. Art galleries exhibit some of their best works. Visitors can wonder through the Balinese-style houses to view the carved wooden pillars and the artists instructing apprentices.
The center of Balinese painting, Ubud's Museum "Puri Lukisan" has a permanent collection of modern works of Balinese art dating from the turn of the century. There are also several art galleries and homes of famous artist here, including that Dutch-born Hans Snel and American Antonio Blanco. The "Young Artist" style now popular in Balinese painting was introduced by the Dutch painter Arie Smith. In the past, other foreign painters inspired Balinese artist to adopt western techniques but traditional Balinese paintings are still highly collectable. The Neka Museum has a wide collection of paintings by Indonesian as well as foreign artist who used to live Bali. Ubud has a several small hotels and is located in the foothills of the central mountain range, giving it a cool, pleasant climate.
Peliatan is located between Ubud and Mas. It is known as the center of traditional music and dance.
Goa Gajah, dates back to the 11th century and is believed to have been built as a monastery. Carvings on the wall show a demon head over the entrance, flanked by two statues. The cave contains a statue of Ganesh. Escavations have uncovered a bathing place with six statues of the nymphs holding water-spouts.
The temple of Pura Tirta Empul is built around the scared spring at Tampak Siring. Over 1000 years old, the temple and its two bathing places have been valued by the people because of the spring water's curative powers. Regular ceremonies are held for the purification. Specialities of the area are bone and ivory carvings.
The villages of Kintamani and Penelokan give a view of the active Mt. Batur and Lake Batur. The caldera of Batur is 7 miles in diameter and 60 feet deep. From Penelokan, a road leads to Kedisan on the shores of the lake where boats can be hired to cross over to Trunayan. This ancient village is inhabited by people who call themselves "Bali Aga" or "original" Balinese, and have maintained many of their old ways.
Pura Kehen is Bali's second largest temple. Three terraced courtyards are connected by steps, and theirs balustrades are decorated with carvings and statues. A large Banyan tree with a tower shades the lowest and second courtyard, while in the third courtyard several shrines for the gods and ancestors are found.
The former seat of the Javanese Hindu Kingdom in Bali, from which Balinese royalty draws its blood line, Klung kung was the oldest kingdom on the island and its "Raja" the most exalted. The Kerta Gosa or Royal Court of Justice, built in the 18th century, known for its ceiling murals, painted in the traditional wayang style, portraying punishment in hell and the rewards in heaven. The floating pavillion, garden and lotus ponds in this walled-in complex are reminder of the former glory of this kingdom.
Know as the "Mother Temple of Bali", the sanctuary of Besakih on the slopes of Mt.Agung is the biggest and holiest of all Balinese temples. Over a thousand years old, steps ascend through split gates to the main courtyards where the Trinity shrine are wrapped in cloth and decorated with flower offerings. Around the three main temples dedicated to the Trinity (Shiva, Brahma and Wisnu), are 18 seperate sanctuaries belonging to different regencies and caste groups.
To the Balinese, a visit to the temple's sanctuaries is a special pilgrimage. Each has its own anniversary celebration or "Odalan". The sight of the temple against the background of the mountain is impressive, and during festivals coloured banners add a touch of gaiety.
The hectares of nutmeg trees in the Sangeh forest abound with monkeys. The forest is considered sacred, so no wood is allowed to be chopped here. Two temples stand in the middle in this sacred forest, the monkeys are also held sacred and are rather tame, but it is advisable not to play with them.
One of the Bali's most important sea temples, the temple sanctuary at Tanah Lot is built a top a huge rock surrounded by the sea. Poisonous sea snakes found at the base of the rocky islands are believed to guard the temple from evil spirits and intruders. The best to see Tanah Lot is in the late afternoon when the temple is in silhouette.
The mountain resort of Bedugul, 18 km north of Denpasar, is known for its excellent golf course. Located besides Lake Bratan, it is surrounded by forested hills. A beautiful sight is the "Ulun Danu" temple which seems to rise out of the lake. The are offers good walks. Boats are available for water skiing and para sailing. Is done as well. The Bali Handara Country Club has bungalows for rent and a restaurant.
Protected for centuries from the outside world by its surrounding walls, the village of Tenganan has maintained its ancient pre-Hindu customs through a strong code of non-fraternization with outsiders. Here unique rituals, dances, and gladiator-like battles between youths take place. Tengana is famous for its "double ikat" woven material called gringseng, which is supposed to protect the wearer with magic powers.
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