Volcano Agung - Bali's sacred mountain

Volcano Agung - Bali's sacred mountain

Among Indonesian volcanoes, Agung stands out for its size and activity. Its name means "great mountain" and the Balinese respectfully call Agung "Mother Mountain" and worship it as a sacred place. There are many legends and tales associated with the volcano. Local guides will tell the story of the distant past, when the Earth was still young, and their home island is completely flat.

Here animals grazed freely, strange plants bloomed everywhere, and birds sang magical trumpets. The people did not have to take care of anything, because nature provided them with everything they needed to live.

The gods liked the paradise place very much. They decided to settle down on Bali and made Mount Agung their earthly residence, because it was not fitting for the gods to be on the same level as humans. They decided to settle in Bali and built a temple of wisdom on the top of Mount Agung, because being on the same level as humans was not appropriate.

From above they watched over the deeds of men, judging them severely but justly. The gods did not forget the people; they saw that they strove for good deeds and worked hard. Garudu, the magical bird, would take such righteous people to the top of Agung, where they were allowed to live near the gods.

The Balinese have been worshipping the gods of Agung ever since, worshipping their power, making offerings, and most importantly, remembering them constantly, literally, day and night. All local houses and temples are built with an orientation toward Agung, and beds in bedrooms are placed so that the headboard is directed toward it.

Climbing Agung

The laconic and almost perfect conical shape of the volcano literally draws people's eyes with its beauty. If the life of the gods is hidden from humans, everyone can observe the changing outlines of the clouds and the extraordinary colors of sunsets and sunrises. Many tourists strive to climb to the top of the volcano to get the most vivid impressions.

It is advisable not to take any chances and not to try to storm the mountain on your own. Although climbing the volcano is not technically difficult, from time to time inexperienced tourists get unpleasant injuries. There are facts when tourists, including those from Russia, lost their orientation and for several days wandered without finding their way back.

Volcano Agung on the map: https://goo.gl/maps/fD6D1moPCkJ2

It takes an average of six to seven hours to climb the sacred mountain, depending on how well prepared the group is. Any healthy person can climb Agung. It does not require special climbing equipment. It is enough to wear comfortable shoes that do not slip on the rocky paths and scatterings of small stones.

It is necessary to take care of warm and comfortable outerwear, because at the altitude is still quite cool. Be sure to take water and a necessary supply of food. Do not forget about the flashlight, preferably take a headlamp to keep your hands free. It does not hurt to wear thin gloves.

How to climb Agung

There are several developed routes for climbing to the top of the volcano. Two of them are particularly popular. The available third option is less popular.

Agung volcano

  1. The first route starts at 1,100 meters at the temple of Pura Besakih on the western slope and leads to the very top. It is by this route that monks and pilgrims ascend the sacred mountain. The time of departure to the route at about 11 p.m. is calculated to meet at the highest point, at 3,142 meters, the dawn and admire the extraordinary beauty that opens from the top in the rays of the rising sun.
  2. The second route begins from the village of Selat on the south side of the volcano. The ascent begins at 02.00 and travel time is about 3-4 hours. Tourists do not reach the highest point, but stop at an altitude of 2866 meters, where during the ascent there is a spectacular view of the crater of the volcano.

The third route is less popular with tourists. It is really a whole hike in length and time. The lowest point is at an altitude of 300 meters, near Duku Bujangga Sakti. At an altitude of 1700 meters there is an overnight stay in tents to complete the ascent by sunrise the next day.

There are many attractions around the volcano. You can start with the town of Candidas, next to which is the Temple of Bats Goa Lavach. Its construction dates back to the 11th century. The name comes from the bats, hundreds of thousands of which live here in the cave. They are revered by the Balinese as sacred creatures. The temple is among the most important on the island and is intended to protect Bali from evil spirits.

The water palaces to the east of Kandidasa are a must-see. This is the royal palace of Tirtha Ganga, which is an entire complex of ponds and fountains in the middle of a beautiful garden adorned with stone statues. The second water palace is called Taman Ujung, and it was built for the last raja of the Karangasem princedom.

The palace was twice damaged by the elements, but has now been fully restored. The atmosphere around the palace, numerous pavilions, bridges, ponds and intricate paths dispose to unhurried strolls and relaxation. You can admire the views of the mountains and the ocean.

In the same part of the island is the world-class Balinese star - the Blue Lagoon, replicated in numerous promotional booklets. Its snow-white sand with black flecks of volcanic sand, like a magnet attracts tourists who dream to arrange their own photo shoot in a corner of paradise.

How dangerous is Agung

Agung is an active volcano, and in recent times it has shown increased activity. The catastrophic eruption of 1962-1963 killed more than 1,000 people and destroyed many homes. This high death toll was due to the lack of a warning system in those years.

Although it is almost impossible to predict the immediate moment of an eruption, there are a number of indications that a volcano is becoming increasingly active. In such cases, a high level of eruption danger is declared. This is understandable, because about a million people live in the area of the volcano, and the main resort city of Cuba is only 15 kilometers from it.

The population is warned in advance about the danger and about 50,000 people are evacuated from the nearest settlements. Tourists are not allowed on the volcano during such periods. The last time a state of emergency on the volcano was declared in the fall of 2017, when there were serious signs of a possible eruption.

volcano in bali

Indonesian authorities recommended tourists and locals not to visit the region. Because of the volcanic ash, many airlines cancelled flights. Security measures have borne fruit and there have been no casualties in recent years. It should be noted that some media exaggerated the situation, exaggerating the dangers.

Tourists intending to travel to Bali are advised to use information from official sources. The most reliable ones are the State Tourism Administration in Bali and the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism, which has lowered the danger level in Bali since February 2018, based on data from the Volcanology and Geological Research Center, as the volcano has gradually calmed down. 

The tourist situation on the island is returning to normal, visitors are even interested in watching the activity of the volcano, which sometimes throws up into the air puffs of gas and ash.

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