Monday, 26 September 2011

The Rice Fields of Bali

The famous Jatiluwih rice fields form one of Bali's most picturesque areas - if not THE  most. They can be found about 20 kilometers north of Tabanan, in Bali’s western region.  Situated majestically in the hills 850 meters above sea level, the atmosphere is refreshingly cool. Jatiluwih means ”really beautiful”.  An appropriate name indeed with breathtaking views across terraced rice paddies, Mount Batakaru and many undulating hills and valleys.
We took an obscene number of shots between us in this location, to the extent that Liz ran out of space on her camera card and had to borrow a spare. I have posted several shots instead of resorting to a collage for this location - I have this vain fancy that some folks may care to see some of them up-large so to speak.
Stitched Panorama

Our first impression of Jatiluwih.  Picky I know, but who allowed a telegraph pole to be sited there? The roads could have been used.

A view that shows the young rice plants growing in the water. The irrigation system here is from a mountain source.



A lone worker in the paddy field. P1160271

We had the distinct feeling that we were walking on private land. Not another visitor was to be seen and we had been assured that it would be crowded. Granted we arrived quite early in order to get good light, but still it was a surprise.
P1160273_postcardA lady came towards us with a basket on her head in true local style.
We made an approach and were greeted with smiles and cheery words. Jeremy had a few phrases of Bahasa and coupled with some sign language, convinced her that he would like to try carrying her load himself. Just to see how heavy it was – and to test his skill at balancing I suspect.
P1160276Finally, a little shrine, beautifully maintained in the centre of the growing area.

We really had to tear ourselves away from this amazing location. Our driver knew a cafe nearby and we paused for a break and also to experience the views from the cafe.
Temple CollageWe have booked the transport for the day and had previously agreed the itinerary, so we pressed on to venue two, a temple complex commencing with Pura Lumur Petali which embraces several discrete temple locations.
At this point we were in the Regency of Tabanan which occupies a big chunk of the west of Bali.
Back in the 15th century it was a kingdom in its own right, but after the Dutch conquest, the Royal family were taken captive and the territory eventually was granted regency status.
Driving on we came to Pura Luhur Batukau which is a royal ancestral temple, with a seven-tiered pagoda, built on the foothills of Mount Batukau. Not as easily accessible as others, this temple remains off the beaten track its forest surroundings have an abundance of flora and fauna.
P1160331There were quite a lot of tourists here and at the gate we were each supplied with a 'srendan' (a wrap around) in accordance with local custom

b-Trip to World HeritageThe area had an air of verdant charm and despite the numbers of people present, it had a tranquillity of its own.
Our guide book goes on to say:    'The tourist is few because it is not maintained of the road. Therefore, an approach to a shrine that goes to ruin and a covered with moss wall quietly have mysterious atmosphere.  There is a shrine where the god of Danau Bratan, the god of Danau Tamblingan, and the god of Danau Buyan pieces are enshrined in the hillside in Gunung Batukau. It can climb a mountain from this place.  Because it is a high ground, it is very cold according to the climate. Taking the jacket recommend it.’
IMG_0692 2 collagePassing through some stunning scenery (well, pausing occasionally), our journey heads north towards Singaraja.

Ulu Tanau Bratan

But first an important temple stop at Puru Ulu Tanau Bratan. This a Hindu and Buddhist shared site. Founded in the 17th century it is dedicated to the Dewi Danu Goddess of the Waters and is actually built on small islands and is thus completely surrounded by the lake. Pilgrimages and ceremonies are held here to ensure a supply of water for farmers all over Bali.
IMG_0747One of my favourite shots shows the temple musicians taking a rest break. It reminds me of a very famous print of seven policemen enjoying illicit pints of beer, known as ‘Seven Pints of the Law’.

We have pretty well finished the journey as we arrive at our last scheduled temple stop; that of Maduwe Karang, the Temple of the Landowner.
b-Trip to World Heritage3Like the Pura Beji (featured above) it is also dedicated to agricultural spirits, but this one looks after un-irrigated land. The temple is also quite famous for its sculpted panels one of which shows a gentleman riding a bicycle with petals for wheels.

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