Besakih, Pura Besakih is the most important Hindu sanctuary in Indonesia and the “mother temple" of all Balinese temples. The temple was probably founded in the 8th century and is located at 900 meters above sea level, on the southwestern slope of the still active volcano Gunung Agung. Besakih is the biggest and holiest of the island’s temples and is surrounded by breathtaking and scenic rice paddies, hills, mountains, streams, and more.
Facing Mt. Agung’s highest peak, Pura Besakih is built in the village of Besakih, in the eastern part of Bali. The name Besakih comes from the word “Basuki”, derived from the word “Wasuki” which means Salvation in the classical Sanskrit language.
Mount Agung’s high location gives it an almost mystical quality. Many stairs lead up to the sacred mountain, leading to the many temples that vary according to types, status, and functions. Pura Besakih considered the most important Hindu temple in Bali, is actually a complex of 23 separate temples that can be explored by tourists. Pura Besakih made the world spotlight in 1963 when the temple – thought to have been saved by the gods – miraculously survived a devastating eruption by Mount Agung. Pura Besakih was nominated as a potential UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.
Since the seventh century AD, the animistic Balinese have absorbed diverse elements of Mahayana Buddhism, orthodox Shivaism, and Tantrism. Today, the island is the only remaining stronghold of Hinduism in the archipelago, and Balinese religion is a fascinating amalgam of Hinduism, Buddhism, Malay ancestor cults, and animistic and magical beliefs and practices.
Pura Besakih was nominated as a World Heritage Site in 1995, but as yet remains unvested. There are at least 70 ceremonies or religious celebrations held each year here, as each shrine has its own anniversary, plus the big holidays based on the 210-day Balinese Hindu calendar system.
Pura Basukian, Pura Penataran Agung, and Pura Dalem Puri are the mother of all village’ temples, namely Pura Puseh, Pura Desa, and Pura Dalem. Their shrines contain religious literature referring how a temple must be built. During the daytime, Besakih becomes a crowded tourist trap, with self-professed ‘temple guards’, touts, hawkers, and more.
Bear in mind that you should wear a proper top, a sarong, and a sash. The best visiting times of the day are in the early morning and in the evening as the complex are much quieter during these hours. The official guides are easily identifiable with their symmetrically patterned traditional Batik shirts. The service is not free, though not expensive at all either considering how big the complex is.
There’s no obligation to hire a guide for tours around the complex. Sarongs and sashes are available for rent. They’re also available for purchase at the many stalls outside, and bargaining is recommended. Women on their periods are forbidden entry. Don’t forget to change money in the more urban areas as the rates here are not reliable.
The area leading to Besakih Temple is highly commercialized. To reach the temple, visitors must walk through a set of Balinese market and souvenir shops, restaurants have also been provided for tourists.
There is a strict dress code.
Most of the visitors’ book Temple tours to arrive at Besakih Temple in the morning time to witness the various ceremonies held there. However, the place looks beautiful at any time of the day. The best modes of transportation are private taxis, private buses, bikes or scooters. It is advisable to book Besakih Temple Tour with another site to visit to properly use the time.