Indonesia has a wide spectrum of regions to cover; listing it is interminable, each with their own flavour and unique landscapes, even wildlife. The abundance of natural flora and fauna, mountains, the fabled undulating rice fields, dormant volcanoes, silver sand beaches and pleasant friendly people.
Indonesia is vibrant, it explodes with culture and history, and there is so much to follow in its trails here. The list as we mention is a few to cover on my bucket list. Sumatra, Java, Central Java, Sulawesi, Kalimantan, and the jewel in the crown—Bali. It’s no wonder that in spite of repeated visits to Indonesia (six times) there are lots to cover and one can’t have enough of Bali and Ubud.
Bali is home to over 1000 temples, making it the highest density place for temples—one can feel the Hindu fervour in every nook and corner. The natural lush varied landscape emphasizes culture and the intense dedication of the Balinese.
A history that encapsulates religion is prominently placed for three main gods of the Hindu pantheon, following the three-temple philosophy. Brahma is the mountain god often facing the mountain, Vishnu the village god who is surrounded by lavish temples in the midst of villages, and Shiva is the Sea god who is always facing the ocean.
When in Bali, look at options of staying in Ubud to soak in art and architecture, and the true spirit of Bali. We opted for six days, many tourists soak in the sun at the favourite beach spots and Ubud as long-haul stay. Just 2 hours from Kuta, the drive is pleasant and scenic. Jakarta is en route before climbing up gentle slopes to Ubud.
Ubiquitously known as the central heartland, it is also the heart and soul of Bali. It’s home to the most talented artists, craftsmen and artisans, dancers. The proliferation of Spas and Yoga centres are evident that Ubud is fast gaining the title of holistic capital of Bali. Ubud can be simply described as the Shangri La of Bali, and Bali, paradise revisited.
A few hours domestic flight from Jakarta by Garuda airways you land at the most impressive Adisucipto International Airport located east of Yogyakarta. Yogyakarta as officially spelt, (the locals favour pronouncing it as Jogja), is a remarkable tourist destination, and like Bali is an oft-visited location in Indonesia, Jogja is fast gaining a reputation as a must visit. Yogyakarta is best known for the famous UNESCO temples, it’s the arts, culture, heritage centre of Indonesia, and synonymous with Javanese classical dance Ballet.
Yogyakarta is a busy bustling city but on a smaller scale than Jakarta. For inveterate travellers this region of Royalty, studded with ancient temples, beaches, volcanoes, choice of resorts, hotels, restaurants, shopping centres, and most importantly it has been (still is) the seat of Javanese culture.
Jogja is the fount of all religious beliefs carried down since centuries and preserved to date by the existing Sultan. It’s these Temples and ancient sites that the world descends upon to ponder on reflected glory of ancients Kings and Kingdoms in Yogyakarta.
THE GRAND TEMPLES THE WORLD COMES TO SEE– As early as the 8th-9th century Yogyakarta ruled supreme as the capital for ancient kingdoms based on the three main religions of that period in time, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. These religions engraved their beliefs in the temples that abound in Yogyakarta and today UNESCO considers them world heritage sites.
Borobudur is situated in central Java, there are two other important Buddhist temples around this complex but it is here that one visits first to see the wondrous temple etched in lavic stone. Built during the reigns of Shailendra (Syailendra Dynasty that ruled for five centuries, and must have been the golden era of that time as prolific temple building activity took place around this region). Borobudur is an architectural marvel of the most distinctive open Stupa design. Built around the Kadu hills that form a protective feature and scenic view.
Hindu Temples Add Glory To This Temple Town – PRAMBANAN- Built around the 9th cent and over 300 years, this is the tallest and largest Hindu temple complex in Indonesia and South East Asia. Having visited Bali numerous times and completed the Hindu temple round extensively, I have always been fascinated with inroads of Hinduism this far in Asia. Yogyakarta had 3 prominent religions prevalent during ancient times, the Hindu belief was due to the patronage received from the Hindu ruler Sanjaya of the Mataram dynasty.
Our tour guide John sums up very succinctly what Hinduism in Bali meant to him and in general. According to him, every Balinese lives in fear of natural calamities that strikes Indonesia constantly. Earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis are the most dreaded. Every Balinese, rich or poor observe daily rituals, small shrines near doorways to every household is a complete must, prayers on important days like the full and new moon is mandatory.
All this has lent stability, peace, prosperity and a sense of great pride that this independent Hindu island is allowed to practice while the rest are predominant Muslims. To most, that is what makes them immortalize the religion to every passing generation and to remain so without many clashes is the greatness that Hinduism has prospered in Bali. Ironically, much of the world around even those practising Hinduism this advantage has not passed on to the very day, and to think this was imported from India! This is why I got married in Bali!!
Text Photos- Jyoti Shetty