Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Bali - The best was saved for last!

Our last day in Bali arrived in no time, with so much to do and so little time! I have a habit to read about a place and make sure I know what I want to see, before even I go there. So, I knew my priorities. The last day had to be special. Now that it's all over, I cannot thank my guide more for saving the best for the last. 
It is not very difficult to find out the most interesting places to visit in Bali, and it is advisable to visit them because they are interesting for a reason. Three tourist spots were left in Bali, which we had to cover - Tanah Lot, Jati Luwih and Lake Beratan. Tanah Lot is accoladed for its majestic sunsets. However, it gets very crowded to go there in the evening. So, we decided to go there in the morning itself, however, Jati Luwih's lush green fields are something that one must savor in the full daylight. 
Tanah Lot is approximately 1 hour from Nusa Dua. Like I had mentioned in my earlier posts, Bali has loads of statues of gods, epics etc. The one below particularly stands out. It is a famous scene from Mahabharata with Lord Krishna as Arjuna's charioteer and Arjuna fighting with his own brother - Karna. 
When you reach Tanah Lot, the actual temple is a small walk away. However, an equally beautiful temple called "Pura Batu Balong" welcomes you. The temple is not so famous, per say, but the dramatic location, stretching in to the sea is a stunning view! As one walks and reaches to the actual temple complex, with vendors selling postcards, to professional photographers taking your photos, the waves start hitting you, and the sea starts making loud noises. This temple was built on a rock, which now is layered by the continuous hitting of waves on the rock. As the history goes, this temple was built to preserve the Hindu culture of the island, along with other temples like the Uluwatu Temple. Although the temple is famous for the sunsets, the number of tourists turned up in the morning, was no small. 
The next destination was in the Penaban region - called Jatiluwih. Jatiliwih literally means "truly beautiful". How many tourist places ever offer a look around their farms? One can hike on these hills or take a car to reach to the lookout place located on the top. We took the car, but I am sure, hiking is a better option, with much more to explore. The fields have to be viewed from the top of the mountain / hill. Till that day, I had never seen a place in my life which I thought was heaven on earth. Everything I loved was right there, nature, mountains, greenery, crowd-less, pollution-less, clouds, rain and the fresh smell of rain soaked grounds. I cannot insist more on visiting Jatiluwih, when on the trip to Bali. Artists also draw amazing paintings of Jatiluwih which symbolizes their traditions and the vast landscapes which this island has to offer!
We stopped at a restaurant in the Pangkung area, and this time, we actually drove around the hills in the middle of the fields. For once, I was so lost in the beauty of the region, that I could not even think of my camera, taking pictures or anything, but to just feel the serenity. The restaurants offer amazing view themselves, circling all around the hills. It started to rain as we moved ahead. We reached the final destination of our trip - Lake Beratan. A drive of one hour after the lunch was sleepy, but the picturesque landscapes kept me awake.
As we reached the lake, it was darker than usual. But since it is a hilly region, it rains and suddenly stops. The lake hosts a water temple, that of Lord Shiva. The temple here is an iconic temple and perhaps provides the most common image of the island. The temple complex is a very quiet place and people often sit there in the open, watching the mountains, lake and the temple. We spent about 30 minutes there, looking back at the 5 days spent in Bali. 5 days of lives, very well spent!
The scene from Mahabharata, in its Balinese version
Pura Batu Balong, Tanah Lot with the Nirwana golf course and the closer view of the temple
The most beautiful place on earth - Jati Luwih in Bali. The last three pictures are the view from a hill top restaurant, rain and rice paddy fields made the most memorable images that I can ever see!
Temple of Lord Shiva, Lake Bratan and the temple complex