The biggest, holiest and most important Hindu temple in Bali is located on the slopes of an active volcano. With over 80 temples, this impressive site attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year who come to marvel at the architecture, worship and take part in the many festivals – at least 70 celebrations take place at the site every year. So, if you are planning a visit or are just curious to know more, here are some of the most interesting facts about the Temple of Besakih in Bali, Indonesia.
7 Interesting Facts About Temple of Besakih in Bali, Indonesia
1. The Temple of Besakih is the most important temple in Bali
The Temple of Besakih is a pura complex. This is a Balinese Hindu temple where those who practice Balinese Hinduism go to worship. The Temple of Besakih is also called the Mother Temple of Besakih as it is the largest, holiest and most important temple in Bali.
2. The Temple of Besakih is on a volcano
The Temple of Besakih is located in the village of Besakih on the slopes of Mount Agung in eastern Bali, Indonesia. Mount Agung, also known as Gunung Agung, is an active volcano and the highest point in Bali. It is also a sacred place to the Hindu population of Bali. You’ll find the Mother Temple of Besakih situated roughly 1,000 metres (3,000 feet) up the slopes of Mount Agung.
3. Pura Besakih is a group of temples
The Pura Besakih comprises twenty-three temple complexes and 86 temples. Pura Penataran Agung (the Great Temple of State) is the largest and most significant of all the temples. Workers built the temple complex on six levels with stepped terraces and flights of stairs that lead to courtyards and gateways. These take you up to the main spire of Pura Penataran Agung, which is the main sanctuary of the complex. The symbolic centre of the Pura Penataran Agung is the lotus throne or padmasana shrine. This throne dates from the 17th-century.
4. This site dates to prehistoric times
The exact origins of the Temple of Besakih are unknown. However, it has been a holy site since prehistoric times. If you look at the stone bases of Pura Penataran Agung and many of the other temples, you’ll notice that they resemble megalithic stepped pyramids. What we do know is that Hindus used the site as a place of worship from 1284. This is when the first Javanese conquerors settled in Bali. Experts say that some buildings date from the 700s AD and others date from the 1340s. By the 15th-century, Besakih was a state temple of the Gelgel dynasty.
5. Three temples represent the Hindu trinity
Pura Besakih has three temples dedicated to the Hindu trinity. Pura Penataran Agung in the centre of the complex is dedicated to Shiva, the destroyer. It has white banners. To the right side is Pura Kiduling Kreteg, which is dedicated to Brahma, the creator. It has red banners. Pura Batu Madeg is dedicated to Vishnu, the preserver. It has black banners.
6. Four temples represent Gods at compass points
Within the complex are four temples each reflecting four forms of God at the compass points. You’ll find Pura Batu Madeg in the north, Pura Kiduling Kreteg to the south, Pura Gelap in the east, and Pura Ulun Kulkul in the west.
7. The temple’s name refers to a dragon
The temple’s original name was Basuki, which refers to the dragon deity Naga Besukian. This dragon, according to local legend, inhabits Mount Agung. However, over time the name eventually evolved into Besakih.