Besakih Temple locally known as Pura Agung Besakih is the largest Hindu temple complex in the village Besakih on Mount Agung in eastern Bali, Indonesia. Survived a volcanic eruption in 1963, the temple is considered holy and miraculous and the local people call it the Mother Temple. It comprises at least 86 temples which include the main Pura Penataran Agung -the Great Temple of State and 18 others. It is the largest and the holiest temple in Bali. There are 23 separate but related temples which are built on six levels, terraced up the slope of volcanic Mount Agung.
The location of the temples on the high set gives it mystical quality and for the locals, visiting it is like having pilgrimage. All the Temples on the premises are connected by staircases and consist of different statues representing different types and functions. The studies of the architecture state that these Temples resemble megalithic stepped pyramids which dates back 2000 years at least. So, it will be precise to say that the Besakih temple dates to Megalithic times. Local people believe that Sri Markandeya, a Javanese priest of 10th century AD was the founder of the temple.
Besakih Temple is dedicated to three main gods of Hinduism - Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma. These temples are further surrounded by smaller temples of lesser gods and shrines of Balinese castes. These three temples represent the Hindu trinity. The largest of all temples is Pura Penataran Agung, representing Shiva. It has seven layers of the universe which are represented in different areas, each with their own shrines. There is also Pura Batu Tirtha where holy water is sourced for the 'Karya Agung' ceremonies at Pura Besakih. Besakih temple provides us a close watch of the Balinese tradition. Apart from these temples, there are more places to visit around them. The breath-taking view from the mountain gives freshness to the mind. There is 'Kulkul' (Balinese wooden slit gong) which is a device to convey a special message. There is a waterfall and Kintamani volcano to witness too.
There is a big cave at the canon of the river on the east where people practice yoga. On the south of the temple is 'Setra Agung' burial grounds where are many sacred ancient stone statues in the form of mythical Garuda bird. The temple complex is open 24 hours a day but visiting hours for tourists is restricted from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. To get the best experience you should visit it early in the morning or late in the evening. To enjoy the Odalan ceremony of the temple you can also choose the 10th month of the Balinese calendar in April. While exploring the complex you will need a lot of walking and stair climbing and so it is best to reach early and set out for the Pura Penataran Agung first. Then you can continue moving towards the other sites. You should wear proper top, a strong and a sash while visiting temples. They are also available on rent. Make sure bare knees and shoulders are not visible. There is no public transportation available to reach Besakih Temple so hire a car with a driver. The route is easy and convenient, but you should carry a map and basic amenities for traveling.