Tag Archive: history

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 Travel Offers Adventure, Wonder and History

The world is chock full of destinations that are all worthy of consideration when it’s time to make holiday plans. There are not many places, however, that can compare to a particular island in the Indonesian archipelago. Bali travel melds adventure, history and wonder into a single experience that is virtually certain to create memories to last a lifetime.

Located only a few hours away from Australia by plane, this unusual destination packs a great deal of fun into 5,632 square kilometers. Here holidaymakers will find weather that is perfect practically year round. With warm tropical temperatures ranging between 20 and 33 degrees Celsius no matter the time of year, visitors to Bali are often surprised to find sunny days dominate even in the thick of the rainy season.

When Bali travel is under consideration, potential holidaymakers will find these reasons tend to draw travelers from all over the world like moths to a flame:

– The outdoor splendor – Bali is famous for its breathtaking geography. The island is surrounded by warm turquoise waters that lap at white sandy beaches. From quiet lagoons just right for swimming and snorkeling to more “active” beaches that call to surfers and adventure sports lovers, the waters here are ideal for year round fun. Whilst the beaches are certainly a draw, they are not the only outdoor wonder that awaits those planning Bali travel. This island is also famous for its lush tropical forests, active volcanoes, tiered rice paddies and incredible lakes and waterfalls.

– The history – Bali has a history that dates back thousands of years. Evidence of its most early inhabitants can be found in a variety of sites all over the island. From the temples in the Mount Agung complex to the wonderment of the Tanah Lot, visitors here will learn much about the peoples and cultures that have touched Bali throughout the ages. With its strong ties to the Hindu religion, holidaymakers will discover that many of the island’s most splendid outdoor attractions have also served as places connected deeply to religion through the ages.

– The culture – Balinese culture is known for its distinct arts, form of dance and cuisine. Those who plan Bali travel will find themselves arriving on a island that is known the world over for its welcoming hospitality and unique traditions.

– The adventures – Bali is one of the few places in the world where people can get up close and personal with gray monkeys, elephants and a variety of other tropical creatures all on a single vacation. If fauna doesn’t appeal, those on Bali tours will find that plenty of other adventures await. Bali tours can unlock adventures that are found nowhere else in the world. From Odyssey Submarine trips that take holidaymakers into the depths that surround the island to a trip to the 11th century Elephant Cave, there is no shortage of opportunities to do and see things that cannot be experienced anywhere else.

When an experience like nothing else is desired, Bali travel will deliver. Combining adventure, wonder and history, this legendary island offers holidaymakers an opportunity to explore paradise on earth.