One of the landmarks I was eager to see in Bali was the Besakih Temple also known as the Mother Temple. It looked so surreal in all the photos I saw. And I was so curious to climb up the ancient steps.


BESAKIH TEMPLE: The path toward the stairs

The guide took me to one of the sarong workshops where women painted beautiful patterns onto textiles. In order to enter any Hindu temple in Bali, you are supposed to be dressed appropriately, meaning you should wear a long-sleeve top and cover your knees with a sarong and a sash tied around your waist. It’s possible to rent sarongs and sashes, but I thought that the genuine sarong would actually make a lovely souvenir.


Interesting black-stone shrines

Besakih Temple

I strolled around the workshop and learned about the technique of making those beautiful batiks, and chose one with lovely large flowers. I was also told that these and the ones you can find on every corner of the island are quite different, because the street goods were poorly painted, and quite cheap. (So true, be careful how you wash both. More about it in articles to come.)

Anyway, I was ready for the Besakih Temple visit.


BESAKIH TEMPLE: Going up between the statues

It was raining again, as it often does in March. (See the previous post for more about the Bali weather.) The sky was pretty clear in the morning, I even had my morning swim. But by the time we took off, bought the sarong, and visited the workshop, dark clouds have thickened up above, announcing another one of the frequent rainstorms. But you don’t mind getting wet when temperatures are pleasant and when you know that the sky is going to clear up in an hour or so.


Every color has its meaning

Up the Mount Agung

We were driving up, reaching Mount Agung where the Besakih Temple was located. You can’t but admire the scenery along the way. People were walking in the rain, barefoot with huge banana leaves above their heads instead of umbrellas. It made me wonder – how much does a man actually need?

This seemed so simple but sufficient, people were just in accordance with their surroundings. And the tourists, we were the foreign objects here, the ones that bounced off the scene, worrying about our “brand new sneakers”, plastic umbrellas, expensive bags, and backpacks that shouldn’t get wet, because we have all sorts of tablets, batteries, chargers, and cables inside. Oh, how complicated!


Besakih Temple detail

It shows, even more, when you get to the Besakih Temple.

Let me tell you a few things about the place. What makes it even more surreal is the fact that it is located in the mountains at an altitude of 1,000 meters, on the slopes of Mount Agung. Do you know that this is the biggest temple in Bali? Yep, it’s one of the holiest, built in the 11th century.

Besakih Temple Bali

Numerous shrines on both sides

Man-made Marvel

It is a unique complex that includes at least 86 temples. Just imagine those beautiful constructions made out of black stone, placed on the hill overlooking the green rice paddies. The contrast of decoration colors is breathtaking. Along black walls and sculptures, you will see huge parasols, white, gray, red, and yellow, and sarongs and flags in different colors. Imagine the gray sky above all that and that was the scene before me. Such a powerful mixture of man-created structures amidst the beautiful landscape!


Pilgrims on the way to the shrines

(Well, just look at what I chose as the site’s feature image and you’ll understand how impressed I was by the Besakih Temple. These parasols in different colors that now represent my travel blog on all social media, originate from Bali’s Mother Temple.)


The blog’s feature image

Be prepared to take many stairs up and walk among the numerous temples of different types and functions. Pura Besakih features three temples dedicated to the Hindu trinity. The one in the center with white banners is dedicated to Shiva, the Destroyer. The one on the right has red banners for Brahma, the Creator, and the third one represents Vishnu, the Preserver, with its black banners. Many of the other temples’ inner courtyards are closed to the public and reserved for pilgrims.


Resting after the ceremony

The Dragon Deity

The Pura Besakih area was regarded as a holy place since ancient times. A part of it is built by the 8th-century monk who called it Basuki, referring to the dragon deity Naga Besukian, believed to inhabit Mount Agung. The name in time turned into Besakih. Other shrines were added in time.


A lovely souvenir store

Even though the place had several restorations due to earthquake damage in 1917 and a series of Agung eruptions in 1963, the complex still stands in all its beauty. They say that the lava flow passed by Besakih Temple and it’s believed to be a miraculous message from the deities who demonstrated their power this way.


BESAKIH TEMPLE: Fascinating structures

Different areas of the complex represent the seven layers of the universe, each with its own shrines. It would take you about 30 minutes to go up the stairs in order to reach the temple closest to Mount Agung’s peak. The place is vibrant throughout the year since there are at least 70 ceremonies or religious celebrations held here, as each shrine has its own anniversary. The best time to visit is in the mornings or in the evenings, even though it’s usually crowded all day long.


Different layers of the temple

Enjoy the view

As I said earlier, you can rent a sarong and a sash here, or you can even buy one in front of the Besakih Temple given that there are a lot of stalls at the entrance. Still, try to exchange money in the city you are coming from. If you are visiting alone, you can hire a guide here, or stroll around by yourself and admire this fascinating complex. Also, women are not allowed in during their menstrual period. All in all, you will have one memorable experience.


Misty view from the Agung

When I think of the Besakih Temple now, I often evoke the scene of glancing down at my feet from time to time, trying not to slip climbing the stairs in the rain. Then I looked up, holding the umbrella in one hand and sarong edges in the other, passing by beautiful statues, vibrant fabrics, and parasols. And then I reached the top temple. The view from up there… Wow!


The full Bali SERIES




  • 14/03/2018

    I haven’t been to Bali yet but it’s number one on my travel list so I can’t wait to go! Hopefully I’ll make it there this year so your guide is very helpful 🙂

    • 14/03/2018

      Thank you, so glad it will be of use for you. Feel free to browse around the whole series, there’s a lot more to come! 😉

  • Marvi


    Ahhh.. The Mother Temple does look amazing and that view from up there is equally incredible. I could just imagine how breathtaking it must be during summer when the sky is blue and everything looks bright and cherry!
    Lovely tip about the sarong too. Like you, I’d love to have a genuine sarong as a souvenir!
    Curious about not allowing women inside during menstrual cycle btw.. Do you have any idea why is that so?

    • 17/03/2018

      No, don’t know much about the rule, unfortunately. But I often came across similar notions in different cultures and countries, and I’ve learned to respect them.
      Regarding the view, I think that this mist even added a certain magic to it. The place looked even more surreal! 🙂

  • 15/03/2018

    I never knew that Bali had so much to offer. I’ve often heard reviews from my family and friends who have been there and it just sounded like a typical resort kind of vacation to unwind and with nothing much to see. Great to see what it has from your post! May change my mind and visit it since it’s so close to home.

  • 18/03/2018

    The temple looks beautiful. And so are the views around it as seen from the temple. Thanks for telling about the attire , it’s so important to respect the local culture and be dressed accordingly as per their customs when visiting a place. I will remember this for my trip to Bali

    • 18/03/2018

      Thanks, Neha, so glad you like the story and find it useful. I fell in love with the place immediately! 🙂

  • 18/03/2018

    Wow! The Mother Temple looks amazing! I’ve been to Bali twice, but somehow missed this!?! I’m sure I will go back, because Bali is just incredible. Totally bookmarking this now!
    And yes, the rain can be a bit overwhelming (especially in summer), but as you noted, luckily it passes quite quickly!

    • 18/03/2018

      Thanks, Zoya. So glad I can contribute to your next visit. Would love to hear your impressions afterwards. 🙂

  • 19/03/2018

    This temple really does look like a must-see stop in Bali! Those views from the Agung are enough for me to add it to my list 🙂 I love that you had such a great experience, especially in the rain .. .goes to show that weather doesn’t need to dampen our travel spirits

    • 21/03/2018

      Of course. Even more so when you actually don’t have that kind of rain back home, so it even makes the whole experience somewhat magical! 🙂

  • 22/03/2018

    Wow, 86 temples in one place, that is really amazing! This historic temple is definitely a must visit in Bali, I can see why you were so impressed with the temple. Great choice on choosing the temple picture as the blog logo!

    • 25/03/2018

      Thanks, so glad you like the logo picture. It makes me proud in a way, don’t know how to explain it. Like the whole significance of the temple is behind the logo, if that makes any sense. 😀


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