The Balinese Mother Temple of Besakih

by Rosemarie John on November 11, 2011

Built in the 11th century, Besakih is the largest and most important temple amongst the local Balinese. With over 22 structures in its complex, the temple sits on the slopes of Mount Agung, a stratovolcano and is home to the Trinity shrines dedicated to the Gods Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu. Surviving the devastating volcanic eruption of the mountain it resides on in 1963, Besakih is famous for allowing Hindu followers of any caste to worship and pay homage within its holy grounds.

Travel Tip: An entrance fee of IDR9000 (USD1.00) is required to enter the temple, however due to the influx of tourists, local guides (claiming to be temple guardians) tend to force themselves on unsuspecting visitors demanding hefty donations and a compulsory guided tour.

It is not necessary to take on a guide as long as you are aware that you should not infringe on private family temples within the compound. These guides speak poor English and you probably won’t even understand a word they say but if you feel its best to take on a guide, a sum of IDR50,000 (USD5.60) per person is adequate enough as donation to be made at the entrance below. Do not be fooled by an interesting pencil written log book showing exorbitant amounts that “previous visitors” have made as donations.

Visitors who do not plan to make a religious offering will not be allowed into the main temple (picture above). Instead, you will be only allowed to roam the walkways up to a smaller temple on top of the mountain. Entry in private family temples located on either left or right of the walkway is prohibited. Once you reach the top, the view is breath-takingly lovely with temple roofing decorating the horizon in front of you.

Besakih Temple is located in the Besakih Village, Rendang Sub-district, Karangasem District, East Bali. By car, its an hours drive from Ubud and approximately a two hour drive from Kuta depending on traffic conditions.

The temple is open 24 hours however its official listed time of operation is from 8am to 5pm. Its best to visit the temple with a local friend after 6pm to avoid the over-bearing nature of the temple guides. A sarong and sash is provided only if visitors are dressed in short dresses, skirts or shorts. Even better, bring your own sarong!

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

bali car rental May 23, 2012 at 1:38 am

very good information for besakih mother temple

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bali transport July 31, 2012 at 4:02 am

very good article

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Miriam Shumway February 14, 2013 at 3:17 am

Where did you get your source for the temple site being built in the 11th century? Can you lead me to more information about the history of the temples?

Thanks!

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Rosemarie John February 18, 2013 at 3:22 am

Hi there, I got my source from an information pamphlet. However, the official tourism board website states that it was built in the 10th century and you can find that information here: or here: http://www.disparda.baliprov.go.id/informasi/2010/11/karangasem-regency

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