South and West Bali – Batukaru dan Negara

All temples in west Bali have shrine dedicated to the spirit  of Mt. Batukaru,

The highest peak of the western volcanic range. A turnoff to the right some kilometres west of Tabanan leads up past the hot springs at Yeh Panas to Wongaya Gede, the village colsest to the tempke sanctuary, Pura Luhur, high on Batukaru’s slopes.

Uninhabited jungle encloses the solitary temple, whose single seven tiered meru is the symbolic abode of the mountain deity. Nearby is a square poll, symbolizing the ocean, and from the adjacent village of Jati Luwih, a stunning panorama of the sea and the coast present itself.

Back down to the highway and many kilometres farther west, the district capital of Negara is famed mostly for its bull races. A secular entertainent introduced from east Java and Madura less than a century ago, bull racing takes place regularly between July and October.

Bulls are specially bred for speed and colour (no ordinary plowing bulls, tehese), then decked out in silk banners and enormous wooden bells, and paraded before being raced down a two km (1.25 mile) track. They are judged for speed and style. It is remarkable to see such ordinarily slow moving creatures thunder down to the finish line at speeds of up to 50 km (32 miles) per hour!.

As one approaches the western tip of Bali, the landscape changes to thick savanna, the villagers live by hunting or finishing rather than farming.

Avid skin divers will want to explore the coral gardens ringing the island of Menjangan in the Bali Barat Nature Reserve, just north of Gilimanuk. From Gilimanuk, a ferry crosses on the half hour to Banyuwangi in Java.

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