With the “my must-visit” temples in Ubud checked off of my list from the first half of the tour (well, I also wanted to see Goa Gajah); the second half of the day takes us to the two most important temples in all of Bali, Besakih and Pura Ulun Danu Batur.
Pura Ulun Danu Batur
Just a short distance from the restaurant where we had lunch is Pura Ulun Danu Batur. There weren’t that many people in this Bali temple. Apart from us, there’s only a couple who, just like us, seemed lost and not finding many interesting things in the temple complex. Perhaps that’s a biased opinion, cause Pura Ulun Danu Batur is where we paid IDR 50,000 for a sarong rental.
As soon as we stepped out of the car, we were whisked away by fast-talking, surprisingly strong ladies who are a foot shorter than us. Before I knew it, I was wearing a green sarong with matching headgear, fishing out the IDR 50,000 payment for the outfit and hurriedly being ushered into the temple grounds!
Although not the most interesting temple we visited (again, this could just be the IDR 50,000 I lost for the sarong rental), Pura Ulun Danu Batur certainly is the most colorful. We didn’t stay that long in this place, somehow we felt cheated. No wonder our guide didn’t seem to want to take us there. It was nice wearing a full outfit though. :)
Pura Ulun Danu Batur was not on my list, when I showed the photo of a temple near a lake to our homestay host, who graciously accompanied us to serve as our translator, this is where he took us. Unfortunately, this is not the temple in the photo I showed him. Take note, Pura Ulun Danu Batur is different from Pura Ulun Danu Bratan. Even though Batur doesn’t sit on the lake itself, unlike Bratan, it still offers a great view of the same.
No admission fee, entry is by donation.
Besakih or the Mother Temple is the largest and holiest of all temples in Bali. Consisting of 22 temples, built on six levels, terraced high up the slopes of the highest point on the island; a visit to Besakih is usually a separate tour or would require at least half a day.
Besakih is quite a drive away from the rest of the temples we’ve been to. No wonder it warrants a separate tour, but our host agreed to take us there anyway without any additional cost. It’s a picturesque drive from Pura Ulun Danu Batur to Besakih.
Arriving late in the afternoon, and the fatigue from our ‘two days, two volcanoes’ trip to Bromo and Ijen slowly catching up with us, my travel buddy didn’t have the energy to join me in exploring the temple grounds. I, myself, was only able to make it no further than the foot of the second level.
Admission fee is IDR 15,000, including sarong. After paying, you will be bombarded with persistent offers of a guided tour. You are free to explore the complex on your own, of course, although some areas may be off limits to non-Hindu visitors, especially during ceremonies.
Our tour is capped off with a visit to some of Bali’s many rice terraces. Recently listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Subak or the water management system for the paddy fields of Bali was developed more than a thousand years ago.
These rice paddies are in serious threat due to the influx of tourists to Bali. According to wikipedia, about 1,000 hectares are being converted into tourist facilities annually.
There are hundreds upon hundreds of temples in Bali. These are as much of an attraction as the beaches on the island. Despite visiting only four temples, we somehow felt temple-fatigued.
After a while, even though the temples have distinct characteristics of their own, they begin to look repetitive. I suggest creating a list of the ones that you’d like to visit. I’m pretty sure our previous days’ adventure spanning from Yogyakarta to the temples of Prambanan and Borobudur, to our treks to the volcanoes of Bromo and Ijen had something to do with our lack of energy. :)
One whole day (with energy or not) is definitely not enough time to explore the many temples and wonders of Ubud and its surrounding areas. The short time we allotted made me feel like a character in a popular mobile game. Despite that, we still tried to take in as much of the places we visited without being too much in a hurry. After all, it’s not about how many places you’ve been to; rather, what you took away from the experience.