Watching the sun make its steady descent towards a gold and orange infused ocean from the vantage point of Bali’s world famous Uluwatu Temple (Pura), is a must see for anyone travelling to the Island of the Gods.
The Temple is situated right on the tip of Bali’s southernmost point, the Bukit Peninsula and the panoramic views of the island’s cliffs and Indian Ocean makes you feel like you are standing on the edge of the world. It is clear to see why the ancient Balinese decided to erect one of their most glorious temples here.
Although you have to deal with the inevitable throng of tourists from around the globe trying to grab ‘that pic’ of the sunset, or wrestle their water bottle back from any one of the numerous monkeys that call the temple home, this really is one of those views in which seeing is believing.
Pura Uluwatu was built in the 11th Century and is one of the nine temples built during this time to protect Bali from evil spirits. Perhaps its most famous daily event is the performance of the Kecak Fire Dance every evening at sunset. The show takes place in a small outdoor auditorium with spectacular views of the sunset, and quickly fills up with tourists such as myself, eager to catch a dose of traditional Balinese culture that has gone unchanged for the last 100 years. The Kecak Fire Dance is a show that depicts various scenes from the ‘Ramayana’ that is accompanied by an all male chorus chanting the word ‘cak’ in various forms, rythms and tempo’s. The chorus provides the musical soundtrack to various scenes of intrigue, love, betrayal and battle taken from this famous Hindu story, and is accompanied by some beautiful costumes, great interactions with the audience and of course, the spectacular finally bathed in fire, while the sun sets in the background. That the men in the chorus can maintain the furious tempo without their voices failing is a minor miracle and the standing ovation they received at the end of the show was a fitting end to what is definitely one of my favourite cultural experiences on Bali.
Bali is a beautiful island with a rich cultural heritage that is however, fast becoming modernised. It is great to know that you can still catch some of the events that truly make Bali a unique experience, while at the same time finding comfort in the fact that your entrance fee is helping maintain this beautiful temple, and that you are showing your respect and support to the local inhabitants of the island.