Besakih Temple (Mother Temple)

Over a thousand years old, Besakih Temple is known as the "Mother Temple of Bali" 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. Bali's mother temple stands against a stupendous mountain backdrop on the southeastern slopes of Mount Agung. Named after the Dragon God believed to inhabit the mountain, it's said to be the only temple 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. To the Balinese, visiting the temple sanctuaries is a special pilgrimage. The mountain top setting gives it an almost mystical quality. The largest on the island, this massive complex of 35 small temples attracts staggering numbers each year, being the main point of pilgrimage for Balinese Hindus. Steps ascend through split gates to the main courtyard where the Trinity shrines, dedicated to Shiva, Brahma, and Vishnu, are wrapped in cloth and decorated with flower offerings. There are number of temples but many of their inner courtyards are closed to visitors. Tracing its origins to prehistoric times, the complex was untouched by the great 1963 eruption of Mount Agung, which wiped out surrounding villages. The complex also houses the oldest remaining gamelan instrument in Bali called selonding. The temple ceremony (odalan) falls on the 10th month of the Balinese calendar, in April. If traveling, try to reach Pura Besakih before 9am, when many tourist buses start to arrive, so that we can take in the lovely temple in the quiet Balinese morning.

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