May 28, 2020

Pura Penataran Agung Besakih - The Central Sanctuary and Most Important in Bali

Pura Penataran Agung is the central sanctuary of Besakih Temple Complex. This temple is the largest and most important in Bali. The temple is on the south-western slope of Mount Agung, the highest volcano of Bali. Along the road to the temple, you will be accompanied by beautiful landscape and lush rice fields.

Pura Penataran Agung Besakih, Penataran Agung Temple Besakih

This holy temple is situated in Besakih Village, Rendang, Karangasem Rengency, Bali. The public transportation services are still limited and a bit difficult. Even so, visitors can try several options such as: using a travel tour, a taxi, or you can rent a vehicle and drive yourself to this location.

When traveling to temples in Bali, visitors are usually asked to wear right attires, the traditional sarong and waist sash to cover the lower body. This is common in Bali and also to respect the culture in the temple. Traditional sarong is provided as part of the entrance fee or you can buy it for souvenirs.

Visitors are not allowed into the temple, because this is for prayers only. But don't worry; there are nice walkways around the temple where you can see the whole temple.

This is an incredible spot with impressive shrines and also enchanting statues. If lucky, you can see the beautiful volcano’s peak clearly. Visitors can spend the time here while enjoying a peaceful atmosphere and breathtaking panorama. Best time to visit the temple is early morning or afternoon till sunset.

Visitors should also be prepared to walk back to the parking after touring the temple complex. It's a little tiring, but you can enjoy the cool atmosphere, traditional people's houses, and also shop for unique souvenirs along the way.

Pura Penataran Agung Besakih, Penataran Agung Temple Besakih

The public temples at Besakih Kompleks are also divided into two groups based on location, namely: luhuring ambal-ambal (above the steps) and soring ambal-ambal (below the steps). The steps are the main stair to the Penataran Agung Temple.

Penataran Agung Temple is linked with Pura Dalem Puri, related to the ancient Balinese concept of dualism or Rwa-Bhinedda, namely as purusa and pradana (prakerti), the male and female principles of existence.

The temple also has a relationship with Pura Batu Madeg and Pura Kiduling Kreteg, related to the concept of Tri Murti. Pura Kiduling Kreteg honors Lord Brahma, the element of fire, in red. Pura Batu Madeg honors Lord Wisnu, the water element, in black. Pura Penataran Agung honors Lord Siwa, the air element, in white color.

Pura Penataran Agung Besakih, Penataran Agung Temple Besakih

This big temple consists of six courtyards, terraced upward. These courtyards are on a single axis, believed to guide the spiritual upward and close to the holy mountain. Each courtyard has its own temples and structures.

Courtyard 1, structures: candi bentar, bale kulkul, and bale pavilions. From the outermost courtyard, visitors can see the beauty of the main stairs, a long flight of steps with stone sculptures from the Ramayana and Mahabarata stories on both sides, leading to the split gate (candi bentar) and the first courtyard at the top.

Courtyard 2, structures: kori agung, padmasana (padmatiga), meru of nine roofs, meru of eleven roofs, bale pasamuhan agung, shrine to Sanghyang Siem and Mpu Bradah, bale pawedan, smaller shrines and bale pavilions.

Padmasana (Padmatiga), the focus of ritual at Pura Penataran Agung, is dedicated to Ida Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa in manifestation as Siwa, Sada Siwa, and Parama Siwa. Meru of nine roofs is dedicated to Ratu Kubakal also identified with Bhatari Sri, goddess of rice. However, the main shrine honoring Bhatari Sri is Pura Banua Kawan where the rituals of Usaba Buluh and Usaba Ngeed take place. Meru of eleven roofs is dedicated to Ratu Manik Makentel also identified with Bhatara Rambut Sedana, god of wealth and prosperity.

Courtyard 3, structures: mere of five roofs (pedharman Arya Dauh), pedharman Arya Bang Sidemen, meru of eleven roofs, kehen (panyimpenan), meru of seven roofs, smaller shrines and bale pavilions.

Kehen functions as a place for storing the precious god-symbols, wooden inscriptions, and other paraphernalia rituals. Meru of seven roofs is dedicated to Ratu Geng or Ratu Lingsir. Meru of eleven roofs is dedicated to Ratu Maspahit also identified with Bhatari Candra, goddess of the moon.

Courtyard 4, structures: shrine dedicated to Ratu Ayu Subandar and Ratu Ulang Alu, shrine dedicated to Ratu Surya-Candra, meru of eleven roofs, smaller shrines, bebaturan, and bale pavilions.

It is believed Ratu Ulang Alu is the deity of local traders (wandering merchant) and Ratu Ayu Subandar is the deity of inter-island merchant. The worshipers who live from trading activities frequently pay homage to this temple. Meru of eleven roofs is dedicated to Ida Ratu Sunaring Jagat (light of the world) also identified with Bhatara Guru (Siwa).

Courtyard 5, structures: meru of three roofs, meru of eleven roofs, and bale pavilions. Meru of three roofs is dedicated to I Dewa Ratu Magelung or Ratu (Ayu) Mas Magelung, goddess of the art of dancing and music. Meru of eleven roofs is dedicated to I Dewa Wisesa or Sanghyang Wisesa also identified with Bhatara Raditya, the sun god.

Courtyard 6, structures: shrines (gedong) dedicated to I Dewa Bukit or Ratu Bukit. This is the uppermost courtyard where a pair of temples (gedong) is located. This pair of temples is dedicated to respecting the male and female aspects of I Dewa Bukit (Ratu Bukit / Gunung Agung), which are commonly called I Dewa Bukit Kiwa and I Dewa Bukit Tengen.

Pura Penataran Agung Besakih, Penataran Agung Temple Besakih Pura Penataran Agung Besakih, Penataran Agung Temple Besakih

This is a very important temple; however, the exact origin of the temple is still unclear. It is said that the stone base of Penataran Agung Temple resembles the megalithic structure of the stepped pyramid and is estimated to be at least 2000 years old.

Sources mention the king named Sri Wira Dalem Kesari. He is said to be a descendant of the noble clan Wisnuwangsa from Daha (East Java). He came to Bali and became king there, with his residence at Kahuripan in Besakih. His family temple (pamrajan) was the Mrajan Slonding.

He is mentioned as the (first) great builder of Besakih Temple. He made an expansion to Pura Penataran Agung Besakih which was previously still in simple form. Then, he built several other temples around this main sanctuary and also built Sad Kahyangan Temple.

It is said that the temple was used as a place of worship of the Hindu from 1284 AD when the first conqueror forces from Java settled in Bali. Then, Besakih Temple became a state temple of the Gelgel Dynasty in the 15th century.

The triple lotus throne or Padmasana (Padma Tiga) becomes the focus of ritual at Penataran Agung Temple, estimated from the 17th century. The cosmic turtle motif (Bedawang Nala) adorns the bottom of the padmasana, wrapped around by the two cosmic nagas, Sang Naga Basuki and Sang Naga Anantabhoga.

The Padmasana is dedicated to worshiping Ida Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa in manifestations as Siwa, Sada Siwa, and Parama Siwa. When worshipers come to Besakih Temple, they always give offerings and pray at the Padmasana.

Pujawali in Pura Penataran Agung (padmasana) falls on Purnama Sasih Kapat (the full moon of the fourth month). In addition, there are also some other great rituals, such as: Bhatara Turun Kabeh (every year at Purnama Sasih Kedasa), Tawur Panca Wali Krama (every 10 years), and Tawud Eka Dasa Rudra (every 100 years).

Bhatara Turun Kabeh or the gods descend altogether, is the main yearly ceremony that honors the gods in all public temples in the Besakih Complex and is centered at Penataran Agung Temple. The Balinese believe that the gods from all the temples in the Besakih Complex will come down to earth during this sacred ritual. Hindu residents from all corners of the island and outside came to the Besakih Temple, to give offerings and prayers to the gods.


  2. _ Besakih Temple _ on May 26, 2020
  3. Image : Original Collection

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