Tegalalang Rice Paddies, Pura Kawi & Tirta Empul
After a few days spent in Ubud, we left the city and headed north towards Kintamani, a village at the foot of the Batur volcano. However, before we faced the mountain, we visited the picturesque rice terraces in Tegalalang, the rock carved Pura Gunung Kawi and the sacred springs of the Tirta Empul.
Tegalalang rice paddies
After visiting Ubud, it was a time for a change in climate. After breakfast, we said goodbye to the owners of the pension and with mixed feelings we left the city. And this time we took advantage of the services of a private driver, who for a few-hour course took a lot of money from us. We set off to the north, towards the Kintamani popular due to the presence of a volcano. We had hoped that we would not find so many foreign tourists on the spot. Along the way we stopped in three places. The first of these was one of the most impressive rice paddies in the area – Tegalalang. The village itself is located at an altitude of 600 m, thanks to which a pleasant, cool climate prevails in it. Lush green rice fields stretching on the slopes of the valley offer unforgettable views, which every year attract crowds of admirers in the form of painters, photographers and nature lovers. Strolling along the picturesque, winding paths, we had the opportunity to take a close look at the work of local farmers and see how rice is grown. A beautiful panorama of the valley, covered with a rice field and coconut palms, can also be admired from one of the nearby restaurants.
Dark side of paddies
Unfortunately, as Tegalalang has become a popular stop among travelers to Kintamani, you have to pay a fee (10,000 rupees/ person) for admission to the terraces. Additionally, walking on the rice fields it is easy to come across the cheaters who for the crossing will try to extort additional money from us (in this case it is best to be assertive or just ignore them). Here and there, stalls with coconuts are placed, whose owners will also try to make money. In addition, it is easy to get lost in the terraces, because the paths are not well marked (not to say at all), which we had the opportunity to see on our own skin. Fortunately, we were helped by a lady working nearby, who (of course for a small fee) from wetlands and steep cliffs led us to the right path. Well, as you can see, the Balinese people have mastered the art of extorting money…
A handful of practical information: visiting the terraces in Tegalalang is possible daily from 8.00 am to 4 pm. The rice paddies are open all year long, also at harvest time, because then they are supposed to look just as great. Parking and a toilet are available nearby. To avoid crowds, terraces are best visited before noon. Do not let the local farmers get cheated – for the entry we have to pay only once.
Pura Gunung Kawi
Another place on our list that we visited that day is the Pura Gunung Kawi temple carved in the mountainsides. This unique complex is located in the Pakerisan Valley surrounded by rice fields and jungle, passing through the village of Tampaksiring. In addition to being an archaeological gem, it remains a sacred place for the Balinese people. The complex consists of ten unique temples, which are considered the tombs of the royal family in the 11th century. Although the exact origin of the buildings is unknown, five of ten candi are thought to have been erected to honor the family of the ruler of Udayana, and the other four are devoted to the favorites of Prince Anak Wungsu. Although there is evidence supporting this theory, the locals have been repeating an intriguing legend for years, according to which the temples were created thanks to the mythical giant Kebo Iwo, who in one night bore reliefs with his own nails (!).
How to get
To get to the bottom of the deep valley where the tombs are located, you have to overcome about 300 stairs, along which there is a row of shops. To the left of the stairs, there are four candi, while another five are carved in the rock on the other side of the river. The last of the quaint buildings is located a bit further south. It is also worth going to the right, to the hermetic hermitage, which used to serve monks for meditation. A place definitely worth a visit!
A handful of practical information: a fee of 15,000 rupees per person is payable for admission to the Gunung Kawi temple. The opening hours of the Gunung Kawi Temple for visitors are from 07:00 am to 5:00 pm. As in case of any temple in Bali, a sarong is required. You can rent it at the ticket office.
Tirta Empul holy springs
The last stop on our way to Kintamani was a visit to one of the holiest sanctuaries on the island – Pura Tirta Empul. The main reason why this place is visited by hundreds of Balinese people (and not only) is a bath in the healing holy springs, whose origin is attributed to a peculiar legend. According to this legend, the ruler Mayadenawa, possessing the supernatural powers, one day decided to become a god. He forbade his subjects to give gifts to other deities, which angered the true gods. They declared war on Mayadenawa and sent their troops to earth in place of the present temple. The self-appointed ruler lost the fight and escaped to the jungle, trying to cover his tracks. Fortunately, the attempt to escape failed. However, before the divine army caught up with the king, he poisoned the stream of water. When the thirsty warriors drank from this spring, they fell dead. Fortunately, the god Indra came to help. He drove his weapon into the ground. In this way, the source of immortality arose. The elixir resurrected the dead army of the gods, who easily defeated the evil king.
About Tirta Empul
It is estimated that the Tirta Empul temple was erected around 962 AD (this is also the date on the so-called holy stone). The entire complex consists of three successive yards. In each of them we can admire intricately carved altars. Arriving here from nearby villages, Balinese people, after giving gifts to the gods, perform mass ablutions – a ritual washing of the body in the sacred waters of the god Indra. Every year, residents of nearby villages conduct processions involving barongs (half-lions that embody the good), which are then immersed in the sacred spring. We regret that we could not see it!
Practical information: the temple can be visited from 07:00 am to 5:00 pm. To enter Tirta Empul, you must pay a fee of 30,000 rupees per person. Visiting the object is possible only in the sarong, which can be rented for free at the ticket office. To avoid the labyrinth of stalls with clothes, ending the tour, do not follow the exit sign. It’s best to go back the same route we came.
On way to Kintamani
After visiting the sacred springs at Tirta Empul, we went to a nearby restaurant with the graceful name of Warung De Koi for dinner. An undoubted advantage of this place is the opportunity to eat in one of a dozen houses on the water surrounded by beautiful nature. Unfortunately, the proximity of one of the most popular Balinese temples makes this place quite expensive. We have ordered a classic mie goreng and nutritious soto ayam soup.
After a hearty meal with our Balinese driver, we moved further north towards Kintamani. On the way we stopped in Penelokan, a tourist town located at an altitude of 1350 m above sea level, from which is a magnificent view of the lake Batur caldera. We must admit that the local landscape is really awesome! We were only disturbed by the crowd of sellers attacking from everywhere, trying to sell us… chess. In addition, for entry to the village a fee is charged. Well, it looks like the commercial has already come here.
After a short stop in Penelokan, we finally arrived at our hotel in Kintamani. And this time we decided to stay in an intimate facility, offering spacious bungalows with a nice view of the area – Mapa Lake View Bungalow.
After checking in at the hotel, we would not be ourselves if we did not decide to take a walk in Kintamani. Apparently, every three days in the village takes place one of the largest marketplaces in the area, where you can buy literally everything, from clothes to cultivated here fruits, such as salak, mangosteen, or green grapefruit. Unfortunately, we arrived to Kintamani too late to be able to see it. In return, while walking around the village, we had the opportunity to see the everyday life of the residents. We even managed to see a youth volleyball tournament! Unfortunately, due to our growth, none of the locals had the courage to play with us. Well, maybe next time?