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The former seat of the Javanese Hindu Kingdom in Bali, from where Balinese royalty draws its bloodline, Klungkung was the oldest kingdom on the island. The Kerta Gosa or Royal Court of Justice, which was built in the 18th century, is well known for its ceiling paintings in the traditional wayang style that portrays the pleasures and rewards in heaven as well as the punishments and sufferings in hell. Within Kerta Gosa is a floating pavilion, garden and lotus pond.

Goa Lawah

Located nine kilometers from Klungkung, Goa Lawah is a cave in which the walls vibrate with thousands of bats. These creatures' bodies are packed so tightly that the upper surface of the cave resembles undulating mud. A temple, which is believed to have been founded by a sage nine centuries ago, guards the entrance to this cave. This temple is said to extend all the way back to Pura Besakih and may continue to an underground river that comes up at Pura Goa, which is within the Besakih complex. Naga Basuki, the mythological gigantic snake, is believed to live in this cave.


Known as the 'Mother Temple of Bali', Pura Besakih is the biggest and holiest temple in Bali and is perched nearly 1,000m up the side of Gunung Agung. It is extremely enjoyable during festivals when the temple is decorated with colorful banners and the devotees come dressed in their finest, carrying meticulously arranged offerings. The destructive eruption of the volcanic Gunung Agung was said to be the wrath of the gods, having been offended by the Balinese who thought that the ceremony was supposed to be held every 100 years. The miscalculation by the priests had infuriated the gods and caused the destruction. Now, the festival is held more frequently instead of waiting for another century.

Menjangan Island

This little island off Bali's west coast is famous for its dazzling coral reefs and wealth of tropical fish inhabiting the waters. Scuba diving can be arranged and is considered the best that can be offered in Bali. Above water, spotting the rare Java deer is a challenge and the island is also a protected sanctuary for the Bali starling.


This island is fabled to be part of the holy Mahameru, whereby Hanuman, the monkey general in the Ramayana, took to crush Rawana, the villainous giant, which fell to the earth. Along with it came a group of monkeys from Hanuman's army, who remained on the island to pester travelers. The forest here is considered sacred and wood is not permitted to be chopped. Such is the legendary origin of the monkey forest of Bukit Sari, a cluster of towering nutmeg trees and home to hundreds of sacred monkeys.

Tanah Lot

One of Bali's most significant and photographed temples is Pura Tanah Lot, which sits on a huge rock just offshore and is surrounded by sea. Built by one of the last priests to come to Bali in the 16th century, its rituals include paying homage to the guardian spirits of the sea. In caves surrounding the temple dwell striped sacred snakes, which are believed to be the guardians of the temple and are to be left discreetly undisturbed. Only worshippers are allowed into the temple, but Pura Tanah Lot is indeed a sight to behold at sunset, with its majestic silhouette against the setting sun.


This mountain resort has a fantastic golf course and has long been used as a weekend retreat by the Balinese. Here lies the serene Danau Bratan, a lake often veiled with mist. A temple was built in honor of the goddess of the lake, Dewi Danau. Pura Ulun Danu Bratan rises from the lakeshore promontory and seems to rise from within Danau Bratan itself. The area is excellent for walking, water skiing, and parasailing. Boats are available for rent.


Tenganan is a Bali Aga or original Balinese village. Protected for centuries from the outside world by surrounding walls, the ancient village has maintained its pre-Hindu customs through a strong code of non-fraternization with outsiders. Unique rituals and practices are preserved, and girls as young as two are wrapped in silk and donned with multi-colored scarves and flowered crowns of beaten gold during festivals. The village women weave the famous 'flaming' cloth, kamben gerinsing, which is purported to have the power to immunize the wearer against evil. A single cloth can take five years to complete and a large piece can cost well over a thousand dollars. The Fight of the Pandanus Leaves takes place annually during the Usaba Sambah festival. Two men would fight like gladiators, armed with only a round, plaited shield while attacking each other's bare bodies with bunches of thorny pandanus leaves. After the battles, the wounds are treated with a mixture of turmeric and vinegar, thus leaving no scars.

Werdi Budaya Art Centre

Modern, traditional and contemporary Balinese visual arts can be seen at this spacious complex, which is the largest and most complete art center in a series of cultural centers built throughout the archipelago. Werdi Budaya Art Centre exhibits Bali's numerous visual arts disciplines including painting, woodcarving, shadow puppetry, silverwork, weaving, Barong and Rangda dance costumes, and remarkable ivory carving. Apart from its real cultural function, the complex is a showplace for Balinese Temple and Palace architecture at its most opulent. The grounds are also home to the month-long Pesta Seni or Bali Art Festival, held sometime in June, when traditional music, dance, art exhibitions, cultural competitions, sales of foodstuffs, and local handicrafts highlight the best of Bali's talents.

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