It was dusk as the Royal Brunei airline flew into the air like a graceful bird and lifted away from a green Brunei onto its way to Bali islands in Indonesia a mere three hours away .
I was exited ,and looking forwards to visit the famed island of Bali in the southern tip of Indonesia as all have heard so much about this beautiful island .
We were to land in the capital Denpasar in the Ngruk Eliya airport shortly .
The flight landed smoothly and we quickly paid our visa on arrival fee of US 40 dollars needed for Indian passport holders ,earlier on exit one had to pay an airport tax and had to conserve money for that but now that is already included in the fare .
We took a cab to our hotel in Kutta and it cost around 17 US Dollars ,it was easier to think in US Dollars as Indonesian money was mind boggling .
A single Brunei dollar fetched 10000 Indonesian Rupiah and one talked of one hundred thousand five hundred thousand rupiahs for example a mineral water would cost about 20000 Indonesian Rupiahs ,each Indian rupee was around 200 Indonesian Rupiah !
We checked in to 101 Legian Bali in Kuta and retired to our rooms .
|An aerial view of Kutta area from our room|
|nights in Kutta|
|parties fun and frolic massages bars and night life galore in kutta|
Bali is a wonderful combination of the traditional and the modern melding so smoothly .there was no vulgarity here though it catered to all types of people and no one was prejudiced against another for his way of life as there was acceptance of all with no intrusion to another .
such broad mindedness is an unique feature of the country something admirable .The Balinese too are gentle ,peace loving soft spoken and artistic well meaning people .
We had asked our driver cum guide recommended to come to the hotel ,
Dewa should be one of the most popular guides in the country and when we saw him we knew why
He was genial ,cheering ,charming and he swept us off our feet as he made us comfortable in the car with a bottle of mineral water each
Bali has several places of interest .
One can surf in sandy beaches or take warm sunbaths one can dive or snorkel or go swimming or just laze on the evening with a glass of liquor and fine music ,the beach scene was very attractive to many tourists specially from Australia ,
Kutta had a memorial for those who were killed by a bomb explosion by radical extremists a few years back .
The car went off the winding roads of Densapar ,busy with thousands of mopeds its roundabouts had huge statuettes of Hindu mythology and scenes from it ,after all the country was more than 80 % Hindu and its known for its adherence to Hindu customs and traditions which it guards with great passion .More than 80 % of its population are Hindus .
Hinduism at the beginning of the century spread to the far east brought by south Indian sea faring traders or as invited by local kings .Indonesian islands adopted both Hinduism and Buddhisms ideals ,the Prambaam temple one of the biggest temple complexes is in Indonesia ,several Hindu scriptures were translated into Javanese like the Agastya Parva on Rishi Agastya of the 11 th century .
the last and the largest amongst the Buddhist Hindu Kingdoms was the Mahapajit empire influenced the Indonesian archipelago ,Islam too came here from 12th century at time of Marco polo and slowly Indonesia was taken over by Islamic rulers later it turned into a Dutch colony by the colonizing Dutch .
After gaining indepence from the Dutch ,Indonesia insisted on monotheistic religions only and Bali clarified its Hindu concept to a monoatheistic one and introduced a joint petition using a Sanskrit slogan
OM TAT SAT EKAM EVA ADVITYA
Translation: Om, thus is the essence of the all pervading, infinite, undivided one.
|the Balinese are fine artistes and their delicate art works extends to architecture ,furniture ,idol temple making and fine arts of painting sculpting etc|
In 1962 Hinduism became the fifth state recognized religion .
In Bali the Trimurti deities of Hinduism of Shiva Brahma and Vishnu also has Eswara on top of all the three .
There are more than 20000 temples ( called Pura )in Bali ,each family has a Kula Dewa or family deity .
Balinese life is woven around their religion , heritage and their temples ,they do have a functional caste system but no untouchables probably a reflection of early Hindu life in India too .
|several road junctions had stone lamps very similar to those seen in Kerala temples|
|Festoons decorate every street ,road ,front of houses ,malls and buildings|
Hari raya Nyepi is the Hindu new year celebrated in Bali as a day of silence .
On new years eve the houses and the public places are cleaned food is cooked for two days ,in the evening as much noise as possible is made in order to drive away evil spirits ,Nyepi night is filled with fires song and light but the next day is one of total silence with people not venturing out of their house or cooking ,nothing works and even airports are closed ,tourists are asked to stick inside their hotels for the whole day and night .
Hari raya Galungan and Hari raya Saraswati are two other important festivals in Bali .
|one of the beautiful temples of Bali with women in traditional dress carrying offerings|
the village is called Pengalipuran
|the wooden storehouses for storing grain is seen|
|Pengalipuran or model Balinese village|
|The street lined by houses in the model village|
|Wearing traditional Balinese dress in the Pengalipuran|
|the wide walkway ,no vehicles are allowed|
The whole village has been built in the traditional way with houses lining a broad walk with steps leading up to the temple at one end ,each house compound itself has smaller hutments with their red brick roofs .
The kitchen was in a separate room house from the living rooms ,many of the householders carried on with their work though some of them talked to visitors and tried to sell of souvenirs .
|temple complex of 23 temples|
|The split entrance is seen in many Balinese temple entrances ,here it is called the Candi Bentar and the second level gate is called Kori Agung|
|The priest distributes offerings to the devotees all dressed in pristine white|
|a view from the top of the steps|
|a lovely Balinese child in the temple in traditional garb|
|The sentinel gaurdian of Uluwatu|
the temple on a rock out in the sea were so picturesque and one could imagine how it would look in sunset ,we were surprised to find out the rock was a carefully constructed artificial outcrop which had replaced a crumbling rock a few years back ,cleverly engineered to look like the original while being strong too a real feat in conservation .
There was so much of peace and quietude in their movements and the place was serene and peaceful ,the line of shops included upmarket branded shops restaurants and studios making brisk business .
Artistes did their work in front of the tourists and the place was a treasure house for artistic works ,
|making and selling art|
|Balinese fish and rice|
|A temple function with procession|
|the step like pagodas were typical of balinese temple architechture and to a small extent did resemble temples of Kerala ,umbrellas shaded empty pedestals with offerings for the invisble Gods|
Shiva and consort Parvsthi are the main deities Vishnu and Brahma and their temples all have tiers in descending orders
After returning from here we sped to our hotel in Seminiak area a more upmarket locality and into a bigger and sophisticated one with an infinity pool
we lazed in the next morning after a hearty breakfast and an indulgent swim as we had to leave Bali in the evening with a sad heart !!