Karangasem Regency

Karangasem Regency | East Bali

During the 18th and 19th centuries, Karangasem was the most powerful kingdom in Bali but in the middle of the 19th Century, it become a vassal of Lombok. Covering 861 square kilometers, the district of Karangasem is well know for it's breathtaking landscape formed by lava flows from Gunung Agung, the sacred mountain of Bali. Beautiful terraced paddy fields lie at the lower south-eastern slopes of the district while coffee and clofe plantation are found higher up. Panning salt and fishing are the major economic activities in the coastal areas. Standing 3,412 meters high, Gunung Agung made disaster news on 17th march 1963 when its crater exploded, spewing rivers of lava and hot. Volcanic mud down its slopes and into the sea. Ash rained over the whole island and lava streams covering roads isolated its eastern end and even made the sky of Surabaya in East java dark at midday. Large areas of crops and many villages and temples were wiped out.

Thousands of people were either burned to death or suffocated by the searing clouds of hot gas rushing down the volcanic slopes. The villages of Sorga and Lebih, situated high on the slopes of Agung, were totally destroyed. As if by a miracle, Besakih temple just six kilometers from the crater, suffered little damage. Nowdays, Mount Agung is quite and the mother temple, Pura Besakih, perched1000 meters up the slope, attracts a steady of devotees and tourists. Pura Besakih is Bali's most important and well maintained temple, consisting of about 30 separate temples in seven terraces that ascend up the hill. Every district in Bali has its own shrine or temple at Besakih and besides honoring Ida Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa (God Almighty), all other Balinese deities are also honored.

If you want to climb Mount Agung, you must request permission from the temple authorities, as no one should stand higher than the temple when a ceremony is being held.you can ascend the mountain from behind the temple through the village of Sebudi, near Selat. It is about 6-8 hours climb and you are recommended t hire a guide and leave early in the morning. Padang Bay is the port for the ferry service to Lembar on the island of Lombok. It is a quite fishermen's village situated in a perfectly sheltered bay. The beach is picturesque and quaint with a long sweep of sand, where boats with colorful sail are drawn up on the beach.

From Padang Bay the road follows a beautiful stretch inland and turn off at Tenganan, a Bali Aga village,and one of the few Balinese communities to resist the Majapahit invasion of 1343. It is a walled village comprising two rows of indentical houses. This is where the famous Grinsing, fabric, a type of ikat, is produced. The village is also famous for its "Lontar' traditional sacred palm-leaf books. On the coastal road, 13 kilometers from Tenganan, is the one quite fishing village of Candi Dasa. You can expect to find plenty of accommodation, restaurants, bars souvenir shops and some nightlife here. There are fantastic views from the promontory and on a clear day, Mount Agung.

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