Located on the southern slopes of Mount Agung, Besakih Temple is also known as the Mother Temple as it is the most important, biggest and holiest temple in Bali. Dating back to prehistoric times, this temple is perched 1000m up the side of Mount Agung and is built on six levels up the slope.
The entrance to the Besakih Temple has a split gateway and what lies beyond is a majestic complex of 23 separate temples and countless shrines. This temple complex is often frequented by locals especially during an important religious celebration or festival.
Given the significance of this temple, it is a pilgrimage spot for many Hindus and the many temples within the complex play different roles and have different architectural features. Pura Agung at the center of the complex is dedicated to Lord Shiva the Destroyer, Pura Kiduling Kreteg to the right is for Brahma the Creator and Pura Batu Madeg represents Vishnu the Preserver. Besides these, the many smaller temples are also worth visiting to get a sense of the intricacies of this complex.
Besides the grandeur and historic significance, Besakih Temple is also worth visiting as its high location means you will get a spectacular view of the countryside and Mount Agung. Come and explore this vast space which may take up to a day, and bask in the view of the mountains, hills, paddy fields and streams from above!
While Besakih is the biggest, Lempuyang is probably the most iconic temple in Bali. Famous for its split gateway overlooking Mount Agung, this temple is also believed to predate the majority of temples in the island. Lempuyang Temple is historical, a marvel of a sight and has several other attractions along the way like monkeys and several other temples.
However, not many tourists have been to Lempuyang despite its beauty because it requires quite a bit of climbing to get to the top. There are over 1,700 steps in the steep staircase as the main temple lies 1,175m above sea level. Those who make the 2-hour trek will be rewarded with the most amazing panoramic view that is the perfect backdrop for photos. Locals also believe that only the most strong-willed and genuine pilgrims have the stamina to make it to the top, so if you’re attempting the climb, be sure to not complain on your way up!
As both Besakih and Lempuyang Temples are considered extremely sacred sites, visitors should observe general temple etiquettes when visiting. Women should wear a sarong and both men and women should cover their shoulders as a sign of respect. Besides clothing, visitors should also maintain polite decorum at the temples and be aware of how they behave.
Both Besakih and Lempuyang temples are mystical sites that are great for those looking for something a little different. However, they can be pretty out of the way, so if you do not have the time, make sure to still visit Uluwatu and Tanah Lot temples when in Bali. Guests at Club Med Bali can enjoy excursions to these temples which include a private car, an English-speaking guide as well as water and lunch.