Wednesday, November 21, 2007

MOUNT AGUNG: The Seat of the Gods

When you’re in the beach and the lowlands, you would think Bali is not at all mountainous. Well, the island has more than 10 major mountains and the tallest of which is what the Balinese believe to be the seat of the gods and the center of the universeMount Agung.

Mount Agung (Gunung Agung) is one of the holiest mountains in Indonesia. All temples in Bali face this mystical mountain waiting for the gods to descend. It is also one of the most active volcanoes and the 10th tallest mountain in our region at 3142m (10,400 ft) high.

The largest temple in Bali is the Besakih Temple -- resting on the slopes of the volcano. Devotees attend ceremonies here for the gods visit this temple a couple of times a year. A Balinese year has 210 days.

The Balinese believes that their island belongs to the gods and they are custodians to look after it. Although most of the outside world would think this belief seem preposterous, we all can learn from it on how we treat our environment.

Mount Agung looks different in different direction. It looks perfect cone shape in the east and massive in other points.

The last time Mount Agung erupted was in 1963. Lava, fire and ash destroyed what it gave – water streams, fertile soil and bountiful harvest. The holy mountain is both the source of life and death. But the gods spared the Bersakih Temple as devotees hurried up the slopes to give offerings and restore the pact between the gods and man.

We were told that since Bali is one of the most visited places in the world, Mount Agung has to be the most climbed volcano as well. Visitors can go up hiking on 3 trails and one of which is the way to Bersakih Temple.

There are rules in climbing up this holy mountain (mostly religious) and don’t forget to ask your guide so not to be “playing with chance”. Respect local beliefs. There are many tourists who got lost, fell on crevices or simply met a lot of uncalled incident by walking about back and forth when a ceremony is in progress. Please remember that your presence might be a “disturbance” to people performing the rites.

Climbing Mount Agung would give you a peak on the colorful local culture that is distinctly Balinese. The rice terraces on it's slopes too! There is nothing like it in Southeast Asia and it could be a very good learning experience for visitors.

From the temple, you can go up farther up to the highest peak but it would be rare to see the entire island because this point is mostly covered or above the clouds. On a clear day, you can see the 7th Tallest Mountain in Southeast AsiaMount Rinjani, on neighboring and equally fantastic island, Lombok.

Mount Agung -- treasure of Southeat Asia.


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pon said...

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