South and West Bali – Snakes in Caves

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Continue along the main highway toward Tabanan,

Then turn left (south) at the town of Kediri along a small but well marked lane which leads after some kilometres to a parking lot and a walkway down to beach. Here, perched on a large rock just offshore, sits the remarkable temple of Tanah Lot, founded by the proselytizing Hindu saint, Naratha in Bali it has animal guardians, in this case snakes who live in caves nearby. At high tide, waves lash the islet, but at other times it is possible to cross over the rocks and ascend to the temple, which appears at sunset strikingly silhouestted against a flaming sky.

Farther west, the district capital of Tabanan was once the seat of a powerful independent kingdom, founded in the 17th century. Puri Tabanan, the traditional home of the raja, is a striking reminder of the immense wealth once possessed by the Balinese rulers.

The town itself been overshadowed economically by Denpasar, but still boasts many famous music ensembles, dance troupes and a lively night market. The regional cultural centre, Gedung Mario, takes its name from the most celebrated dancer of the 1930s and 1940s, the legendary I Nyoman Mario.

The fabulous beaches of Tabanan regency, reached by taking any side road to the sea, are remarkably little known. One such side road, southwest of Tabanan, passes through the village of Kerambitan, famous for its beautiful maidens and joged dancers. The palace Puri Kerambitan, is another example of the region’s ornate architectural style, its merajan house shrine encrusted with strands of old Chinese procelain.

Kerambitan is currently governed by identical twins, grandsons of the late raha, and in 1974 they created a dance, the Tektekan, which combines the clatter of a spirit appeasing bamboo ensemble with the high drama of a Calon Arang play.

Held in the handsome forecourt of the palace, the dance’s finale finds the entire orchestra entranced, armed with keris and throwing themselves upon the evil Rangda.

–> Read Also : South and West Bali – Batukaru and Negara

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