When hearing the word subak, the mind will immediately refer to the Island of the Gods. In Bali, subak is known as a social
organization governing the irrigation system in rice field cultivation. One of the well-known subak organizations is the Subak
Pulagan at Tampaksiring village, Tampaksiring subdistrict, Gianyar. Now, the UNESCO has included it as a World Cultural
Chief of Subak Pulagan, Sang Nyoman Astika, delivered that Subak Pulagan had long been established and the oldest. On that
account, its sanctity, customs and traditional impression were still prominent. It had been recognized as a World Cultural Heritage
recently, precisely in November 2012. “The world has recognized so that we have to keep this area as a legacy for future posterity.
Many investors are targeting the area to build villas and bungalows,” he said.
Subak here, continued Astika, consisted of five hamlets, namely the Tegal Suci, Penaka, Mantering, Buruan and Griya. The
acreage of Subak Pulagan approximately reached 103 hectares with 240 water dividers. “Source of water comes from the
northern region. Precisely, it is from Tirta Empul to southern extent of Kesah River. From Tirta Empul, the water flows through
Timbangan pavilion at Pulagan rice field or approximately 2.5 km. From Timbangan pavilion, the water flow is divided into three
channels. To the right side, it flows along 1 km, left side along 3 km and a small channel along 500 meters. Further, these
channels are divided again into smaller channels flowing directly to rice fields of each farmer,” he explained.
Subak Pulagan, he explained, had a temple called Pulagan Temple or Ulun Suwi Temple. The temple had a statue resembling a yoni. “If a religious ceremony
is held around the village and requires rice or holy water of Pulagan Temple, people will invoke and ask for permission here,” he said. Astika conveyed that
Pulagan Temple had close relations to Goddess Sri because she was a symbol of fertility and prosperity. “There are several ceremonies held in this temple
such as mamungkah, manca tirta and pakeling. Meanwhile, its piodalan or temple anniversary falls on Sukra Umanis Klawu. At that time, the ritual here is
accompanied with dance performance, puppets and masks,” he said.
Aside from Pulagan Temple, he added, there were also other temples such as the Dalem Tambud and shrine of Timbang pavilion. “Tampaksiring village has
several temples that at the same time also become tourist attraction like the Tirta Empul, Mengening and Gunung Kawi. Existence of the objects has an impact
on the Pulagan rice fields,” he explained.
Travelers visiting the objects, said Astika, would be escorted further by tour guides to have a trekking and cycling tour in the surrounding rice fields of Subak
Pulagan. Amidst the rice field, it had been made a concrete pathway. So, many travelers were interested to take trekking and cycling with a view of amazing
rice field. They could see the activities of farmers who were cultivating their rice field in traditional system.
“The distance covered is 3 km and 4 km depending on the pathway selected. Other than trekking, the region also offers tubing sports. It is situated along the
Pulagan River with the route of about 2 km. This water sport is managed individually,” he said. In addition to working as farmer, the residents of Tampaksiring
also worked as private employees, teachers and laborers. “This area is part of Gianyar known as the town of the arts. On that account, there are many people
who are deeply involved in the profession as the artist of carving, painting, dance and music,” he said.
With the inclusion of Subak Pulagan in the World Cultural Heritage, he hoped there would be a commitment of the government to pay more attention to the
people in the area. By that way, people would not sell their rice field to investors. Some plots in the neighboring subak area had been sold and converted into
tourist accommodation like bungalow. As consequence, it could diminish the value of cultural heritage. Now, Subak Pulagan in particular is still constructing a
meeting hall. Meanwhile, other facilities such as road and toilets have been available.
Mother Temple of Besakih
The Mother Temple of Besakih, or Pura Besakih, in the village of Besakih on the slopes of Mount Agung in eastern Bali,
Indonesia, is the most important, the largest and holiest temple of Hindu religion in Bali,
and one of a series of Balinese temples.
Perched nearly 1000 meters up the side of Gunung Agung, it is an extensive complex of 23 separate but related temples with the
largest and most important being Pura Penataran Agung. This is built on six levels, terraced up the slope. This entrance is an
imposing Candi Bentar (split gateway), and beyond it the even more impressive Kori Agung is the gateway to the second
The precise origins of the temple are not clear but it almost certainly dates from prehistoric times. The stone bases of Pura
Penataran Agung and several other temples resemble megalithic stepped pyramids, which date back at least 2000 years. It was
certainly used as a Hindu place of worship from 1284 when the first Javanese conquerors settled in Bali. By the 15th century,
Besakih had become a state temple of the Gelgel dynasty.
It was built on the south slopes of Mount Agung, the principal volcano of Bali.
This Mother Temple is actually a complex made up of twenty-two temples that sit on parallel ridges. It has stepped terraces and
flights of stairs which ascend to a number of courtyards and brick gateways that in turn lead up to the main spire or Meru structure,
which is called Pura Penataran Agung. All this is aligned along a single axis and designed to lead the spiritual person upward and
closer to the mountain which is considered sacred.
The main sanctuary of the complex is the Pura Penataran Agung. The symbolic center of the main sanctuary is the lotus throne or
padmasana, which is therefore the ritual focus of the entire complex. It dates to around the seventeenth century.
A series of eruptions of Mount Agung in 1963, which killed approximately 1,700 people
also threatened Pura 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
Each year there are at least seventy festivals held at the complex, since almost every shrine celebrates a yearly anniversary. This
cycle is based on the 210-day Balinese calendar year.
It had been nominated as a World Heritage Site as early as 1995, but remains unvested.
Visitors to this temple should exercise caution as there is a syndicate operating in and around the premise of this temple. They
target tourists by offering a compulsory "tour guide" at exorbitant charges. They also perform "prayers" and request for tips at the
end of the "tour". Visitors who decline their "services" are dealt with rather aggressively.,
Goa Gajah, or Elephant Cave, is located on the island of Bali near Ubud, in Indonesia. Built in the 9th century, it served as a
At the façade of the cave is a relief of various menacing creatures and demons carved right into the rock at the cave entrance. The
primary figure was once thought to be an elephant, hence the nickname Elephant Cave. The site is mentioned in the Javanese
poem Desawarnana written in 1365. An extensive bathing place on the site was not excavated until the 1950s.
These appear to
have been built to ward off evil spirits.
World Heritage Status
This site was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List on October 19, 1995 in the Cultural category.
The Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave) complex at Bedulu village is just 2 km south east of Ubud on the main road to Gianyar. The
centerpiece here is a cave dating back to the 11th century the entrance of which is an ornately carved demon's mouth. Inside are
some fragmentary lingam and yoni (phallus and vagina) statues, as well as a statue of Ganesha. Statues stand guard around
pools near the entrance. A number of the relics here strongly indicate that the site has a Buddhist as well as Hindu past. Despite
its great antiquity some parts of the Goa Gajah complex were not excavated until the 1950s. Tentatively nominated as a UNESCO
World Heritage Site. Entrance fee is Rp 6,000 and the complex is open daily from 8AM-4PM.
Tanah Lot is a rock formation off the Indonesian island of Bali. It is home of a pilgrimage temple, the Pura Tanah Lot (literally
"Tanah Lot temple"), and a popular tourist and cultural icon for photography and general exoticism.
Tanah Lot means "Land [sic: in the] Sea" in the Balinese language.
Located in Tabanan, about 20 kilometres (12 mi) from
Denpasar, the temple sits on a large offshore rock which has been shaped continuously over the years by the ocean tide.
Tanah Lot is claimed to be the work of the 16th-century janitor baratha. During his travels along the south coast he saw the rock-
island's beautiful setting and rested there. Some fishermen saw him, and bought him gifts. Nirartha then spent the night on the
little island. Later he spoke to the fishermen and told them to build a shrine on the rock for he felt it to be a holy place to worship
the Balinese sea gods.
The Tanah Lot temple was built and has been a part of Balinese mythology for centuries. The temple is one of seven sea temples
around the Balinese coast. Each of the sea temples were established within eyesight of the next to form a chain along the south-
western coast. However, the temple had significant Hindu influence.
At the base of the rocky island, poisonous sea snakes are believed to guard the temple from evil spirits and intruders. A giant
snake purportedly protects the temple, which was created from Nirartha's towel when he established the island.
In 1980, the temple's rock face was starting to crumble and the area around and inside the temple started to become dangerous.
The Japanese government then provided a loan to the Indonesian government of Rp 800 billion (approximately USD $130 million
) to conserve the historic temple and other significant locations around Bali. As a result, over one third of Tanah Lot's "rock" is
actually cleverly disguised artificial rock created during the Japanese-funded and supervised renovation and stabilization program.
The area leading to Tanah Lot is highly commercialized and people are required to pay to enter the area. To reach the temple,
visitors must walk through a carefully planned set of Balinese market-format souvenir shops which cover each side of the path
down to the sea. On the mainland cliff tops, restaurants have also been provided for tourists. You must walk, can not ride any
vehicles. It will be very tiring.