Mother Temple Bali

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The sanctuary of Besakih on the slopes of Gunung Agung (Mount Holy) is over a thousand years old and is known as the Mother Temple of Bali, the biggest and holiest of all Balinese temples. Steps rise through split gates to the main courtyard where the Trinity shrines are. Around them, stand eighteen separate sanctuaries, belonging to different regencies and castes.

In the foreground is my family. Niket was expected to wear a sarong, somewhat similar to the South Indian practice of wearing the "Veshthi" as compulsary for men. I was in traditional indian attire and so exempted myself from wearing a sarong. We were very well recieved everywhere once the locals came to know we are from India. We even performed a puja in the temple. In Bali everyone knows of Ramayana, Krishna avataar and the Vedas and it was interesting to watch peoples reactions to my babys name "Janaka".

Here a priest is conducting a puja clad completely in white. All ceremonies are conducted beneath open sky, as if being one with Nautre and invoking her blessings as well as the Deities.

The steps leading to the main temples were guarded with statues of the Devas on the right side and Asuras on the left.

Colorful vendors with their wares adorning the temple complex.

Perched on the slopes of Mount Agung, at a lofty 1,000 meters (3,000 feet) Besakih is the biggest and holiest of all the Balinese temples.

The openness of this architecture makes one admire the Balinese for their closeness to nature.

A series of eruptions of Mount Agung in 1963, which killed approximately 1,700 people also threatened Puru Besakih. The lava flows missed the temple complex by mere meters. The saving of the temple is regarded by the Balinese people as miraculous, and a signal from the gods that they wished to demonstrate their power but not destroy the monument the Balinese faithful had erected.

Rooftops of Pura Besakih Temple

The temple itself is quite plain in terms of carvings but the filigree on the doors are amazing.

This temple is said to be the only one where a Hindu of any caste can worship. Eighteen separate sanctuaries belonging to different regencies and caste groups surround the three main temples dedicated to Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu. Seen in the picture is one of the sanctuaries for the lower caste to worship. India places no caste restrictions in temple entry today.

There are are number of temples but many of their inner courtyards are closed to visitors.

A Balinese family come to worship. The woman is wearing a long-sleeved, lacy blouse called a kebaya. Both the men and woman are wearing a cloth, called a kamben, usually batik, wrapped around the waist, wrapped differently by men and women. Men wrap the cloth around their waist with a fold in the front, whereas women wear it tightly around their hips with no drapes.The purpose of adat dress is to control some of these desires and to focus attention on a higher purpose while in places of worship and during ceremonies. Adat dress therefore symbolically and functionally harnesses the lower instincts.

The main courtyard with the trinity shrines dedicated to Shiva, Brahma, and Vishnu, are wrapped in cloth and decorated with flower offerings.

The devotees sit with their legs tucked below them. The offerings are made to the Gods in a simple and pleasing manner close to the manner in which Rig Vedic people would have probably worshipped. They sit in open air in front of the inner sanctuary. Offerings of fruit, fowers and incense sticks are made in the most simple and beautiful manner.They raise their folded palms well above the head with some flowers and leaves in it, head and upper torso gently bowed while saying prayer mentally. This is done thrice and finally bowing down in submission to the Gods and Nature.

Exquisite Balinese engravings seen as motifs on this door

Such carvings can be seen out in the city also, where the art and culture is beautifully integrated into the daily lives of the Balinese people like woven silk.

View from the top most step of the main temple.