Pura Besakih

87A Jalan Kresna

On the shoulders of Bali’s most sacred mountain is perched its Mother Temple, Pura Besakih, a complex of 23 sacred buildings. Several times annually, pilgrims flock here from around the island—on the backs of motorbikes, in buses and bemos, even crowded together, standing-room only, in the beds of trucks—to make offerings at the several clan temples (each family is part of a clan represented here) and at the largest and most important temple, Pura Penataran Agung, tiered and built into the mountain’s slope. Make sure to climb to the impressive second courtyard, which is as far as tourists are generally allowed to go. The complex is most alive during frequent festivals, when thousands descend, ceremonially dressed, and flow throughout the temple grounds. When the sky is clear, you can see from here down into the valley and out to sea.

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The guide picks you up one hour before midnight. He does not need to know where you are staying because the small village of Pura Besakih has only one guest house. The guide speaks broken English, and patiently waits for your final preparations before departure. With a smile, he sets off. Immediately, you are struggling to keep up in the pitch black. He ventures off the rural roads into the fields, “So the dogs won’t attack us,” he explains. This is first time you are glad you have hired a guide.

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