The Besikih Complex (the Mother of all Temples)

high-definition creative commons photographs from Pura Besikih together with further information.


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The Besikih Complex

(The Mother of all Temples)

The Besikih temple complex sits on the south side of Mount Agung, the largest and most revered mountain in Bali, which is known as the Navel of the World.

It is believed to have been founded by King Sri Aji Kresna Kapakisan (14th c.), a vassal of Majapahit, and to have been the place of the first Hindu rituals on the island, although the site itself must predate that time.

The complex is a group of temples – some say 18, some say more – that are adjacent to each other, and serve different needs: there are temples to Śiva, Viṣṇu and Brahmā here, as well as temples for the main classes of society.

It is the wish of every traditional Balian for their cremation to be done here and to be given a good send off into the next world, and there are ceremonies going on nearly all the time, but non-Hindus are not allowed into the main temple grounds.

The complex displays most of the main architectural features of Balinese temple: the long stairways; the split gateway (candi bentar); the tiered Meru temple; the empty throne shrines; the kulkul (wooden clapper) pavillions; the door guardians (dwarapāla) and the stairway guardians (makara); and the Bhoma (or Kāla) over the gateways.


The first panorama is the view from Pura Gelap which sits above the main Besikih complex. The second is a view over two adjacent mountains: Mount Batur and Mount Abang, taken from the edge of Batur Lake.


Pura Prajapati Hyangaluh

Pura Gelap

Pura Gelap (the Dark Temple) sits above the main Besikih complex, and the main difference for us was that we were allowed into the main shrine areas. The temple is known as a place for meditation, and it is here that Batara Iswara is worshipped, who protects the eastern direction. The temple hjas a very fine stairway and split gateway (Candi Bentar), and some striking makaras that guard the stairs. From this level there is a good view over the surrounding countryside.

Pura Dalem Puri

This is one of the approach temples along the way to the main complex, around 1km out, and seems to be a pilgrimage stop along the way. The temple itself is fairly small, but a good example of the many temples dotted throughout the landscape in Bali.

Approaching Besikih

Approaching Besikih, Photograph by Cindy Sutantio



Photographs by Anandajoti Bhikkhu

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