Ligaya in Indonesia

Hulundanu Batur Temple, Bali.

It is a little confusing as there are two temples with the same name, quite close to each other. The one we visited is on the shores of the Lake Batur, which lies in the old crater of the original Batur volcano.

The larger, more famous and more visited temple is high up on the rim of the caldera, a few miles away. It seems that at one time, half a zillion years ago, the temple on the shore of the lake was threatened by lava or rising water, so the people went and built the new one on the top of the crater rim. This one survived though and remains in use to this day.

Driving to the temple was a bit of an adventure. We passed through several small villages on a road that slowly got ever rougher. We did not see another tourist for many kilometers. As we arrived, a "guide" mysteriously appeared from nowhere. He had some English and said he would be happy to show us the temple, but we would both have to wear sarongs before we could enter. A friend of his "just happened" to have some sarongs to lend us.

He offered to take us on a hike up to the rim of the caldera, to see the views of the lake and the sea. Despite having just returned from the climb of Mount batur, we decided to give it a go, and were glad we did.

Our guide, I Gede, scuttled up the very steep, ancient stone steps, in his oversized flip-flops, sarong flapping in the breeze. We followed at a slightly more leisurely pace. After all, we had just climbed the volcano that morning....
As we climbed higher, we got great views of the lake, even though it was cloudy and rather overcast. Obviously there is no shortage of water and it appears that the volcanic soil is extremely fertile. Farming is big business here, growing tomatoes, hot peppers and garlic mainly. There is also a large fishfarm in the lake, near the village.

As we reached the top of the steps, we found a road and a scattering of houses perched right on the rim of the caldera.

This must be some kind of wholesale merchant, as they had more tomatoes here than they could possibly sell locally in several years. It also appeared to the the local hairdresser's establishment as well.

We walked back down the road, and all the people, but especially the kids, were intensely curious about us. Obviously very few tourists ever find their way up to this little community.

Many of them wanted us to photograph them, despite the fact we could not give them a copy. This one young lady ran out with her baby to be photographed, and the small boy followed us for ages, doing ever more outrageous "moves" until we took his picture. They were satisfied to just see their picture on the camera's screen.

Until we got lower down again, closer to the main village, there was no sign of anybody having electricity, so no refrigeration. We saw many people drying their produce in the sun to preserve it.





As in much of Bali, the motor scooter is the main form of transport. Here a family is setting off in convoy, probably to or from the market. This must be a relatively affluent family as they had three bikes between them. We have often seen a whole family on one bike, often with a pile of stuff strapped to the back.

The road down was cut into the face of the caldera; quite a project in its own right. Plants were growing everywhere; here large trees cling to the vertical face of the cliff.
As we neared the temple again, we passed a grove of gigantic bamboo. Each trunk, if that is the right word, was more than a foot across, and they reached up at least 50 or 60 feet into the air. I have never seen such big bamboos before. I Gede warned us not to touch them as they make you itch on contact.
Once we got back to the temple, we had to don the obligatory sarongs. Here is me, feeling a bit self-conscious in mine!

I Gede's "day job" is as teacher in a local elementary school. He has responsibility for 309 kids, with usually about 45 in each class at any one time. One of his subjects is the Hindu religion, so he gave us a crash course in the basics of his religion, and the pecking order of the various Gods.

Indonesia has the most Moslems of any country in the world, but Bali is staunchly Hindu. They even have their own sect, with some different Gods and a difference in their relative importance compared to the rest of the Hindu world.

The carving on the stonework is amazing. I cannot imagine how long it would take to do these carvings.

The temple as a whole is dedicated to Ida Batari Dewi Ulun Danu, who is the Goddess of the lake. Because water is so important, she is a top Goddess and she gets the shrine with the most roofs.

The area around these shrines was extra holy, and as nonbelievers, even wearing the sarongs, we were asked not to walk up to the higher level where the shrines were located.

We are not sure if the temple was built by, or if part if it is dedicated to King Gelgel, who was ruling the area from 1460 to 1550. There is no doubt that the temple is "old", but I find it hard to believe it could have existed in this condition for some 500 years, but maybe it has.

The Hindus, at least those on Bali, make offerings to the Gods three time a day. These are mostly food offerings, and they are placed in small woven baskets that seem to be used just once, or at least for just one day.

Once the food has been "offered" they do not seem to care what happens to it, as a result, in the towns, there is a mishmash of trampled food and baskets.

On the dock where we berthed, there was an "offering station" on the end of the dock. Somebody usually came out soon after 6 am, and within five minutes of him leaving the offerings, the rats were literally queuing up to climb the pole to get their daily breakfast.

I Gede explained that there is a ritual in making up the small baskets. The various items are placed in the little square baskets in a very specific order, and holy water is sprinkled at certain junctures.

It was the culmination of a very interesting day, and a chance to learn a little about people of a different culture.


Mount Batur - a trek up Bali's most active volcano
Pura Ulun Danu Bratan temple - one of the most famous temples in Bali
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