Kecak Fire Dance at Uluwatu Bali

Kecak, also known as tari kecakilolahhe in Indonesian, is a type of Balinese Hindu dance and music theatre that originated in Bali, Indonesia, in the 1930s. Since its inception, men have performed it almost exclusively; the first women’s kecak ensemble established in 2006.

We had a chance of watching this incredible performance this time when we visited Bali. The set up is against the backdrop of gorgeous setting sun in Uluwatu Sea Temple. The most interesting fact about this show is that there is no music. All the sounds are created by the performers. I was amazed at their lung capacity and the enthusiasm never dropped.

Watch the amazing performance on my Youtube channel here – https://youtu.be/B5g9qQXcLgQ

The clips in my video includes the parts of Hindu epic Ramayana. You will see the scenes of Sita sending Ram & Lakshman after Gold Mrig and Ravan Kidnapping Sita. Jatayu tries to save Sita but gets killed. Then comes Hanuman and the best part of the show when they capture hanuman and set his tail on fire. He escapes and sets Lanka on fire.

The Kecak Dance of the Uluwatu temple is a pioneer in drawing a sizable part of tourists from all over the world among all the major traditional arts, theatre, and dance in Bali. One of Indonesia’s most recognisable glimmers of its rich cultural past is the Kecak Dance of Bali. It is a type of classical Hindu dance that is based on the tales from the well-known epic “The Ramayana.”

At around 6:00 PM, the Kecak dance performance begins in the sparse light of the setting sun. A big group of approximately 75 male dancers enter the stage and perform the first five chapters of The Ramayana at varied tempos depending on the atmosphere of the scene. The performance concludes with a magnificent rite that involves lighting up the central torch against the deep, dark sky while gradually singing in unison. The atmosphere is too compelling to pass up the opportunity to experience at least once in a lifetime when the silhouette of the fire against the night sky and the sound of the ocean combine.

Due to the dense jungles that surround the Uluwatu Temple and are home to numerous monkeys and long-tailed macaques, it is imperative to carry food and other necessities in fully covered bags or backpacks to protect them from the animals’ teeth.

Obtaining dancing tickets is not at all a difficult task. One to two hours before the dance starts at around 5:00 PM, you can walk up to the ticket booths without making an appointment. Because to the presence of many guarded routes, wild animals, and extremely steep slopes, the route to the temple may be difficult for pilgrims from the plains. Therefore, it is usually suggested to wear proper shoes and stay away from slippers to reduce any unwelcome incidents and the amount of trouble while travelling to the temple.

Image From Internet

Incredible Rice Terraces in Bali

An ideal vacation to Bali includes strolling along picture-perfect beaches, visiting temples, indulging in delectable cuisine, taking in colourful ceremonies, listening to the roar of waterfalls and taking in stunning scenery. Not many people know about the stunning & mesmerising view of rice paddies. No matter how many you’ve already seen, Bali’s dreamy rice terraces will win your heart.

We arrived at Jaltiuwih Rice terrace around noon and it was raining quite heavily. Though the view was great, the incessant rains were making it tough to step out of the car. We waited for around an hour at one of the lovely restaurants and had lunch in the meanwhile. The rain finally stopped and we were all excited and charged up. A small alley across the paddy fields was inviting us to explore this lovely view closely. We travelled the red route through the rice fields, passing a few farmers and cows that were taking a break in the nearby covered shacks. We eventually arrived at a paved road from which we could capture stunning images of the majestic rice terraces and the distant, dramatic views of Mount Batukaru.

Jatiluwih Rice Terrace

A staple cuisine in Bali, rice is closely associated with Balinese culture. The rice growth cycle very much establishes the framework for traditional Balinese living. The Balinese people consider rice to be a gift from God and a representation of life. The three types of rice grown on Bali’s stunning rice terraces—white rice, black rice, and red rice—have been produced by the Balinese people for countless generations. White rice is the most widely available, whereas red rice is considerably more expensive and unusual. My freind bought samples of each type of rice from the local farmer.

Asia is home to many beautiful rice fields, but what sets the Balinese rice terraces apart is the Subak irrigation system, which was even added to the UNESCO list of world historic monuments. The Tri Hita Karana philosophy, which is a part of Balinese culture, is manifested in the Subak system. 

This way of thinking permeates practically every element of daily life in Bali, including Balinese architecture, daily rituals and offerings, and the subak water system. Agriculture crops thrive in Bali’s fertile soil, which is the perfect combination with the island’s humid tropical environment. The subak method, which integrates spiritual, natural, and social aspects, is used to water all of these crops.

Although the Jatiluwih rice terraces are not yet as popular with tourists as Tegalalang is (the eateries and the marked trails indicate they will soon become one of the most popular rice fields in Bali), early access is usually advised. However, you shouldn’t worry too much because, because of their size, you can probably still find some peace and quiet even in the middle of the day.

We still have a few Bali rice fields on our bucket list for our subsequent trip because there are so many beautiful ones that it is difficult to see them all. Particularly the one in West Bali.

Gates of Heaven : Most Instagrammable Place in Bali

You’ve certainly seen photos of this location on Instagram, where the gate and clouds appear to be floating above water in a beautiful mirror-like reflection known as the “Gates of Heaven.” I’m sorry to disappoint you, but there is no pool of water. All of those reflection images were staged using a pocket mirror. A clever local sits here all day and takes the identical photo of each person who who pays and is willing to wait for at least an hour as there is a long queue to get this intagrammable spot picture.

The gate is also referred to in the west as “The Gates of Heaven,” and the entire setting is quite lovely. Approximately two hours from Ubud and two and a half hours from Canggu, the gates and its temple are situated in the eastern highlands of Mount Lempuyang.

Although the complex contains 7 distinct locations or temples, most visitors only throng to the “Gates of Heaven.”

The above photograph shows the temple bang opppsoite of the famous “gate” and the stairs take you up to the temple. The other temples are also quite lovely, so it is absolutely worthwhile to see them as well. You must ascend 1,700 steps to reach the mountaintop location of the steepest one. We did go and offered prayers and must say it was worth it.

Little bit of History

As per wikipedia, the establishment of places of worship around Mount Lempuyang is believed to predate the majority of Hindu temples on the island of Bali.The puras of Mount Lempuyang, represented by Pura Lempuyang Luhur, the highest temple in the area, is grouped one complex of pura which represents the Pura Sad Kahyangan Luhur Lempuyang. The temple groups are considered as part of the Sad Kahyangan Jagad, or the “six sanctuaries of the world”, the six holiest places of worship on Bali. According to Balinese beliefs, they are the pivotal points of the island and are meant to provide spiritual balance to Bali.The temple groups of Mount Lempuyang is also one of the group of temples in Bali known as Pura Kahyangan Padma Bhuwana. Each of the temple in the Pura Kahyangan Padma Bhuwana marked each of the eight cardinal directions. Pura Lempuyang Luhur represents the direction of east (purwa) and the color white. This direction is associated with the domain of Balinese the god Iswara.

Pura Penataran Agung Lempuyang was restored in 2001.

Tanah Lot – A Blissful Coastal Temple in Bali

Bali excels in every category, whether it’s the beautiful bluish blue ocean, the massive Hindu temples, or the sheer untouched virginity of the countryside. Tourists who visit throughout the year have the time of their lives and are relaxed beyond their wildest dreams. Variety is the spice of life, and Bali has a plethora of tourist attractions and getaway locations where one can recharge after months of strenuous work and strain.

It will take many blogs to cover my trip to Bali this June. So I plan to take it slow and introduce you to the place, one attraction at a time.

Tanah Lot Temple

Tanah Lot, also known as Pura Tanah Lot Temple, is a well-known and sacred Hindu temple in Bali. As a popular tourist destination, Bali attracts a large number of enthusiasts and adventure seekers who make it a point to visit this location each year. This holy temple is well-known for its beautiful sunset views and even more soothing cold breezes that flow throughout the beach.  This beautiful temple is situated about 20 kilometres southwest of Kuta in the Beraban town of the Tabanan Regency. This location may be reached in around an hour and a half if you’re travelling from Kuta. It takes around an hour to get there from Bali’s Ubud.

Three temples make up the Tanah Lot complex, which is situated on a massive offshore rock on the beach. The main Tanah Lot temple is one of the three, while the other two serve as a spiritual stand-in when it is closed due to high tide because they are inaccessible. The ‘guardian’ sea snakes that live in the cracks around the Tirta Pabersihan fountain can be seen at low tide by crossing to the base of the rock. It is one of Bali’s main attractions and welcomes everyone, regardless of caste or creed.

Fun and interesting details regarding the history of the Tanah Lot Temple can be found in its legends. It is stated that in the latter half of the 15th century, a high Hindu priest from the Majapahit Kingdom in East Java travelled to Bali to propagate Hinduism and related ideas. He built a shrine to honour the Sea God Varuna, and despite objections from the village leader, he successfully used sea snakes to secure the rock where he meditated. That is how the eponymous temple in Bali, Tanah Lot, got its name, which means “land in the sea.” The priest is said to have gained Nirvana, or enlightenment, at this holy location.

 

The tranquil Tanah Lot temple site was properly protected and repaired thanks to assistance from the Japanese government, despite a serious erosion threat. As a result, the magnificent temple continues to welcome visitors today. On the approach to the temple, you’ll pass by a number of tropical gardens and rest areas where gift shops, art galleries, and sculptures are on show. Traditional drinks and sumptuous  snacks using coconuts are available here.

Pro Tip :

When you see the scene in all its splendour, the Tanah Lot Temple sunset view speaks for itself. In order to avoid the crowds, try to make this sight your final stop for the day and come well before nightfall.

 

A French Affair

I will never forget my visit to Paris this summer. After having a fantastic week in Switzerland, we were all excited to explore this cosmopolitan capital city of France. From a week in Mountains and lakes, coming to Boulevards and Bridges, I personally quite liked the contrasting characteristics of Switzerland and Paris. While the former takes your breath away with its peaceful nature, Paris sets your adrenaline high the moment you get on your feet.

“Dear, It’s afternoon…I think you should tone down your Make-up”,  a rather quick comment come from my husband.

“No way, after all we are in Paris, the fashion capital of the world, itna make up to banta hai“, I smirked. I am sure Da Vinci had said something similar to Mona Lisa, hence the smirk/smile.

Trust me, no matter how expensive dress you wear or what kind of make up you put on, you can not match up with the fashionable crowd in Paris. It was June and the weather was sunny and unusually hot. I literally had to wash my face before reaching Eiffel Tower or the pics would had come out to the likes of an advertisement of a lost lady.

“I told you so”, comes another quick comment from hubby dear.

“Whatever”, I frowned.

Paris they say, is the city of Romance. Adventure, Architecture and Culture too. Though me and husband were all in for the adventure, architecture and culture minus romance!! The mood was salvaged by the positive bright vibes of the day outside. The streets in Paris are always springing with life. Multiple cafes with extended chairs and tables on the pavements with street artists at every nook and corner are playing or performing for your attention. The city is home to the world’s finest and most luxurious fashion designers and cosmetics, such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Dior, Yves Saint-Laurent, L’Oréal, Clarins, etc. If Mona Lisa went shopping here at Champs Elysees, there would had been no mystery left behind her smile as she would had not been smiling but grinning from ear to ear adorning at least five bags of her favorite cosmetics.

Surrounding the banks of the Seine River, Paris has a way of romancing visitors with its elegant beauty and magical ambience. Monuments like the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame,  Arc de Triomphe, Sainte-Chapelle grace the city and make it incomparable world wide. We completely enjoyed walking  up and down on The Champs Elysees, which by the way is pronounced nothing as it is read. Sitting at the high point in Paris, the Basilique Sacré-Coeur has a special aura. The Esplanade that leads up to the church is a popular area for people to hang out and is often graced by very talented street musicians. The Bohemian spirit of Montmartre is still found in its charming squares and cobblestone streets. Many wonderful artists at the square make lifelike portraits with  impeccable art. We had our kids sketched by one of the gentleman.

After couple of days in this lovely city, while walking on Pont Alexandre III, Paris’s most elegant and grand bridge, we finally decided to visit Louvre Museum and find out the mystery behind the smile of Mona Lisa ourselves. The large crowds outside the museum confirmed that no one goes back from Paris without a visit to the Louvre. Its huge and surely would had taken few weeks if we wanted to see all of it. Our target was set, we wanted to see the wing which houses the famous painting by Leonardo Da Vinci.

The line for the ticket was huge and the heat haze had set our temperatures high. The conflict of whether to take audio guide or not, pushed the tempers to one more degree. Adding to the woes, my younger daughter managed to set the language of the audio to French. Clueless of the directions, bickering over everything, we stumbled upon some great work of Art….sculptures like The Winged Victory of Samothrace, The Venus De Milo, Dying Slave, paintings like Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss, The Coronation of Napoleon…. You name it, they have it. Louvre impressed me highly with a collection that spans work from ancient civilizations to the mid-19th century.

The arrow pointed- first floor for Mona Lisa. I wanted to rush immediately while my husband was more interested in photographing the sculpture of ‘The Dying Slave’ by Michelangelo. Leaving him to cover naked man, I scooted towards Room No 6. to see Mona Lisa. The portrait hangs behind bulletproof glass and there were thousands of jostling spectators. It is the most famous painting in the world, and yet, when I saw her up close, I was baffled by the small subdued portrait of an ordinary woman. Neither her clothing is remarkable nor the surroundings. So what is it that makes the painting historical!

When I looked at her mouth, she wasn’t smiling as much as when I looked at her eyes. I feel that the magic of Mona Lisa’s painting is that it seems to react to our gaze. You question what is she thinking! She smiles back mysteriously. I looked again ….her smile seemed to flicker. I glanced away, and the enigmatic smile lingered in my mind. In no other painting  have I ever seen such motions and emotions intertwined.

As I was getting caught up in the mysterious smile of Mona Lisa, my husband called out for me. I turned and saw him clicking a pic of me. I smiled for a moment and than immediately hardened my face. My husband’s face drooped more.

It was our last night in Paris. We had heard that there is a light show at Eiffel on strike of every hour after 10 PM.  Light drizzle had made the weather pleasant. We found a great spot at Trocadero and settled for a while. “Smile now dear!” my husband said. I made faces and started going through the photographs he had clicked earlier at Louvre in our camera. Each and every one were exceptional, capturing details of  the displayed artifacts. But the painting of Mona Lisa was blurred, and the focus was on me!

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It was time…The lights of the Eiffel Tower sparkled through the misty rain. He placed his hands on my shoulders and I softened. After all we had promised to embrace each other’s passions and peeves  during our Saat Pheras. Kids were running around enjoying the magical moments of glitzy sight. I am sure a cupid was at a constant vigil in the Paris skyline that night. Let me re-emphasize, Paris is the city of Adventure, Architecture, Culture and Romance too.