Bali History and Culture

While there is debate about Bali’s prehistoric history, there is ample proof of a well developed Megalithic culture. Nevertheless, good documentation about Balinese culture does not begin to emerge until the 8th or 9th century A.D. At this point the Balinese had already begun to practice various forms of Buddhism imported from India and there is evidence of Hindu influences as well. From the 10th to 11th century, Hinduism continued to merge with local customs. Through intermarriage, Javanese culture began to permeate royal court life and later spread to the villages.

The Hindu Majapahit Empire of Java conquered Bali in the 14th century. (The Majapahit imposed a caste system on Bali with themselves on top and the original inhabitants of the island on the bottom.) By the beginning of the 16th century Bali became a sanctuary for Hindus forced out of an increasingly Islamicized Java. As the Majapahit Empire crumbled, there was a huge influx into Bali of Javanese noblemen and craftsmen.

Indonesia’s wealth in spices, precious stones, gold and other exotic items have attracted traders for centuries. The islands in the Indonesian Archipelago were natural way stations on the trade routes between the Middle East, India and China. The Balinese were never an active seafaring people. It was the Chinese, Indians, Arabs, Malays, Javanese and Bunganese who plied the trade routes. Later came the Portuguese, English and Dutch.

Bali has no naturally protected harbors and the coastline is notoriously perilous. Many coastal villages profited routinely by plundering shipwrecks. One such incident provoked the Dutch invasion of 1906, which was relatively late in their 300 years of colonial rule in Indonesia. Despite the bloody conquest, Balinese culture was relatively undisturbed for most of the years of Dutch occupation, partly because Singaraja, in the north of the island, was the only place that ships could anchor in relative safety and travel in the interior of the island was difficult. Ships from all over South East Asia stopped to exchange goods in Singaraja but for the most part, before the advent of airplanes, only the inhabitants of the north end of the island were directly exposed to foreign influences. Nevertheless, the Dutch did exploit the island vigorously, siphoning off essential resources through an efficient and clever system that used the local aristocracy to do their bidding. After the Dutch, Bali endured an era of Japanese occupation during World War Two and then became part of an independent Indonesia. Under Presidents Sukarno and Suharto political loyalties continued to shift the balance of power. Technically the aristocracy and the Brahmins (priestly caste) no longer “rule” but in practice they still enjoy a large measure of power and privilege.

The arrival, in the last few decades, of tourists, export industries and technology, have had many easily observed effects. The Balinese usually dress in Western cloths, they send faxes, roar down the streets on motorbikes and watch TV. But such changes can be misleading.

Beneath the Surface

Balinese reality is vastly more inclusive than Western consciousness allows. The Balinese have a word, “sekala,” for things which you can perceive with your sense of vision, hearing, smell or touch. There is another word, “niskala”, for “that which cannot be sensed directly, but which can only be felt within.” In the West, we only recognize sekala phenomena as “real”, but in Bali they make no distinction between the two.

Mystical forces, both malevolent and benevolent, occupy a central role in Balinese life. The principal Hindu-Balinese rituals and ceremonies are concerned with maintaining the balance between positive and negative forces. Demons and witches, called leyaks, are not creatures of fairy tales but dangerous and common menaces against which everyone must be on guard at all times. Objects and places which are considered inanimate in the West may be charged with mystical power and therefore very much alive to the Balinese. For this reason, they make offerings to many objects, including the tools used to make silver beads and the building in which the silversmiths work. Directions, numbers and dates can be charged with “kasaktian,” which means “magical power.” Every activity must be carried out with careful consideration and the Balinese often consult religious authorities for propitious dates for important events. The Balinese also accept dual realities, something may be true, but not true, and in certain circumstances they reject linear time.

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Bali – A Splendid Tourist Destination

Renowned for its natural splendor which transcends limits of human imagination, Bali, a tropical island in the Indonesian archipelago, needs no introduction. The islands spectacularly enthralling landscape, replete with exotic beaches, majestic temples and palaces, and rich flora and fauna makes it a perfect tourist destination.

The islands fabulous beauty has repeatedly been a subject of many a movie such as Julia Roberts starred Eat, Pray, Love. This has helped bolster Bali’s overseas reputation as a heavenly respite from modern world. No wonder every year, thousands of people flock its sun kissed beaches, to wash away their worries and indulge in all that stands for fun and excitement.

Bali enjoys tropical sunshine throughout the year. Since remains wet for most part of the year, June to September, being a dry season is considered best for a visit. This period is best suited for beach lovers, who can make a dash for the party towns of Kuta and Legion that are well known for their beaches at Lovina and Candi Dasa. Famous for its magnificent sunset, untamed wild life and great shopping options, Kuta, a beach discovered by Hippies in 1960’s is a favorite amongst surfers. Nusa Dua with its transparent waters and white beaches is yet another surfing paradise for adventure seekers. The place is dotted with luxurious hotels, so you can try the mouth watering cuisine.

Denpasar, the Balinese capital amazes you with its rich medieval architecture in the form of temples and historical sites. One can visit local villages such as Celuk, Ubud, and Bedulu. Known for their fabulous silverware, and finest works of art such as sculpture, painting, dancing and leather work, these villages are a must visit, on every tourist’s travel itinerary.

Six kilometers to the south of Denpasar is another beach paradise, the Sanur Beach. It offers a panoramic view of sparkling coral seas, with glorious sunrise and sunsets occurring behind the wonderful South Bali mountain range. One can indulge in a number of sporting activities such as diving, surfing and snorkeling or simply hire a chartered boat and head towards the sea.

Apart from its crystal clear waters, to keep you refreshed, Bali has a lot to offer a lot on its entertainment platter, thanks to its rich and vibrant culture. One can enjoy Balinese theatre, dance, and drama that vividly portray tales from Ramayana and Mahabharata in a delightful manner. Bali is matchless when it comes to seafood. Do visit Jimbaran Bay, to munch on your favorite delicacies, such as fresh fish, prawns, squid, and lobster.

Bali Holidays – Perfect Way for Reaching Nirvana

Holidays to Bali are all about creating a collage of everlasting memories. The Indonesian Island is renowned for serene aura that embraces the charm of sun-soaked beaches; grace of pleasant weather and glory of chiselled peaks. The blissful culture of Bali shines amid the incredible natural beauty and portrays a unique melange of awe-inspiring natural splendour and vibrant culture. Besides, abundance of staggering ingredients like vast wildlife, lush parks, imposing monuments, jocund festivals and virtuoso artworks decidedly add zing to one’s trip to Bali.

In addition to unique smorgasbord of attractions, the “Ultimate Island”, Bali offers lavish hotels to sybarites, delightful beaches to beach lovers and scores of temples to spiritual holidaymakers. The island is an apt destination for all, making cheap flights to Bali a perennial hit among assortment of travel buffs.

Beaches

Beaches are the essence of Bali. Dozens of aqua blue beaches accentuate its beauty and make this heavenly island a haven for beach lovers grabbing flights to Bali. The island boasts a remarkable string of beaches like Kuta, Candidasa, Denpasar, Nusa Dua, Ubud, Seminyak and Legian. The best part is every beach offers a unique ambience and scores of exhilarating activities. It is absolutely hard to resist the urge of trying hands at surfing, snorkelling and other amazing water sports available at diverse beaches.

Temples

Apart from sun basking at Bali beaches, an expedition to explore the marvellous temples strewn across the island is one of the most popular activities on the island. Besakih Temple, known as the Mother Temple of Bali, is one of the famous temples among travel buffs bagging tickets on cheap flights to Bali. It is revered as the biggest and the holiest temple among other Balinese temples. Tanah Lot Temple, Goa Lawah Temple, Pura Penataran Sasih, Pura Samuan Tiga and Gunung Kawi are some of the unique temples that illume the already entrancing aura of Bali.

Shopping

Exciting shopping scene of Bali is another great reason to hop on flights to Bali. The island offers an exciting range of shopping options for eclectic retail therapy. There are countless shopping markets and glitzy malls all over Bali. The island is considered as the treasure trove for laying hands on variety of souvenirs, art and handicrafts items, antique furniture, jewellery, stone carvings and designer clothes. Kuta Square, near Kuta Beach, is apt for sampling the flavour of boulevard styled shopping centre while Sukawati Art Market makes for a finest spot to grab array of indigenous handicrafts. Other popular shopping attractions include Bali Celuk Village, Mall Bali Galeria, Sukawati Art Market and Monkey Forest Road.

Nightlife

Bali livens up with the setting of the sun!! Resort area of Sanur and district of Kuta in Bali are perfect for indulging in after dark entertainment. Both the places house scores of go-go bars and dozens of upbeat nightclubs that enthral the wild-night-owls till dawn. There are many other clubs that showcase mind-boggling performances of live bands. Hard Rock Caf?� near Kuta Beach, Bacio Club near Legian, Boshe VVIP Club in Kuta and Jazz Caf?� in Ubud are among the true hedonistic nightspots to hit after dusk.

Balinese Food

The exotic food scenario of the island caters to all sorts of taste. Bali is abounded with ample of restaurants and stalls offering vast range of scrumptious Balinese cuisines including nasi ayam and nasi campur, betutu and babi guling. Metis Restaurant and Gallery in Kuta, Naughty Nuri’s Warung in Batubelig, Ku De Ta Bali in Jalan Laksmana 9 Oberoi and Raja’s Balinese Cuisine in Nusa Dua are some of the finest chic restaurants that one must visit during the Bali tour.