Seven Secret Place
BLANJONG EPIGRAPH The epigraph is actually a victory monument located in the Blanjong area of Sanur. The epigraph tells the story of the victory of King Kesariwarmadewa from the ancient Singadawala Kingdom over the Nusa Penida Kingdom. It is of a round pillar monument not too high, measuring at almost two meters in height with less than a meter diameter. The pillar’s top is ringed by a rim carved with sanskrit and old Balinese letters, announcing that King Kesariwarmadewa’s military troops had taken over the island of Nusa Penida.
The epigraph is actually a victory monument located in the Blanjong area of Sanur. The epigraph tells the story of the victory of King Kesariwarmadewa from the ancient Singadawala Kingdom over the Nusa Penida Kingdom. It is of a round pillar monument; not too high, measuring at almost two meters in height with less than a meter diameter. The pillar’s top is ringed by a rim carved with sanskrit and old Balinese letters, announcing that King Kesariwarmadewa’s military troops had taken over the island of Nusa Penida.
To get to Blanjong Epigraph, you can access the Danau Poso Street in Sanur – Blanjong is across from the Circle K on that street. If you want to ask the people around, it’s better to ask where the Blanjong Temple is; not many know about the existence of this epigraph, even the locals.
THE DANISH GRAVE
No, there has never been a Danish massacre on the island. This gravesite is the final resting place of a Danish man named Mads Johansen Langen. And who is he? Well, first of all, a street in Kuta, where his grave is located is named after him. Anyway, his first encounter with Indonesia was in the early 19th century, when he worked as a crew member aboard a Danish commercial vessel that made a stop in Lombok.
Anyway, he decided to part ways and travelled to Bali, where he made friends with one of Bali’s kings. With the help and material support from the king, Langen built his own empire, trading everything he could get his hands on – precious gems, spices, fabrics, and much more. But then came the Dutch, and he knew that it was bad news. And so he decided to leave the island with all of his treasures. Suddenly, he died as he was preparing to leave Bali. Some people say he was poisoned.
A PARK THAT “BREAKS THE KNOT”
Now this is definitely bad news for a romantic place such as Bali. The name of the park is Lila Ulangun Wongan, and it’s not the kind of park where you would relax beneath the canopy of a tree, drinking your afternoon tea. Its long, exotic name may seem pretty, but the park has a dark, hidden story. Happy couples, beware.
In days gone by, there used to be a small temple on the street opposite the park, connected to the park entrance by a small footbridge. In case you didn’t know, on an island where temples are everything, ignoring one can spell disaster. And that’s what happened; the temple near the park was ignored. Scores of teenage couples used to come here at night to watch the moon and, in some cases, did lots more than just holding hands. None of them ever paid homage to the temple – this is really bad. Today, no couple has ever been spotted in the park, for it is believed that if lovers come to this park, their love will not last, and that married couples will divorce after only one visit.
You can access the park through Jalan Gatot Subroto in Denpasar. But only if you are brave!
PAN AMERICAN MONUMENT
Many years ago a Pan American flight, flying from from Hong Kong to Sydney with a scheduled transit in Bali, crashed in the bushes of Tiga Mountains near Singaraja, claiming the lives of all 107 passengers aboard. For reasons unknown, a memorial monument of this fatal incident was erected in quite a hidden spot in Padang Galak near Sanur. It is still frequently visited by family members of the victims.
LEARN CULTURE LIKE THE LOCALS
Founded by I Wayan Balik Riti, SMKI (a high school level Balinese arts institution) was initially dedicated solely to the teaching of Balinese sculpture. It was soon accredited into the public school system and has grown steadily ever since. One faculty (SMKI 1) offers intense courses in wood sculpture, metal crafts, ceramic work and batik making; a second faculty (SMKI 2) offers professional training in Bali-style oil painting; and a third faculty (SMKI 3) trains youngsters in playing the various gamelan music instruments and the subtlety and nuances of the classic dances of Bali.
The good news is that this institution also offers visitors the chance to take part in the classes. It’s a lovely experience that can serve to give foreign visitors a deeper appreciation of just how seriously and totally the Balinese are dedicated to their art.
WHERE THE MONKEYS TALK AND THE TREES WALK
It was in the 17th century that an adopted son of the King of Mengwi received a heavenly message to build a temple on Sari Hill in Mengwi. His obedience towards God’s order turned the once barren place with no plants at all into a green area surrounded and protected by trees. It is said that all the shrubs and trees were supernaturally teleported by God Ida Bhatara from his holy volcano, Mount Agung. However, that wasn’t the only magic occurring that day, for hundreds of monkeys were also ‘sent’ to the temple area to complement the trees.
These monkeys immediately started occupying their positions as protectors inside and around the temple. Some faithful elders in this area claimed that they can verbally communicate with the monkeys – but only when they are praying and focused. In fact, the elders claim that anybody can communicate with the monkeys. If you are in a highly-focused state, it is believed that you can hear the monkeys talk – and you can talk back to them – and see the trees walking around guarding the area. Today, this area is called Sangeh, Mengwi. Due to its abundance of trees and monkeys, Sangeh is also for many times referred as Monkey Forest. Many Balinese people consider Sangeh as the real Monkey Forest in Bali – not to be confused with the famous one located in Ubud.
PURA KEBO EDAN
Before we get started, here’s a quick lesson in Bahasa Indonesia: Pura means temple, kebo means buffalo and edan means wacko. Put it all together we have ‘Pura Kebo Edan’, which, loosely translated, means ‘Temple of the Wacko Buffalo’. No, there is not one single buffalo in the temple compound; the name is derived from the name of one of the most legendary ancient local figures. The temple is interspersed with quite a number of century-old statues, with one being especially appealing. It is the Ciwa Bhairawa statue (a representation of God Shiva), which is shaped to have all the important aspects of a male human body, including the genitals. Of course, one is not a big deal; but six male genitals on one body? Now that’s really something!
Being a Balinese Hindu temple, Pura Kebon Edan has been a place of worship for centuries now. However, this statue, with its six genitalia, has created some controversy, since it is a distraction to those who are praying – especially the female visitors. However, men, too, gaze enviously at the statue and wonder if they measure up, and this corrupts the temple’s function as a place of worship. This is why the statue’s lower body is now swathed in a checked loincloth. A lot of Balinese Hindus still pay homage at the temple every now and then, though visitors have dwindled, and, this time, they’re there solely for religious and spiritual purposes.
Pura Kebo Edan is located in Pejeng Village, Tampaksiring. If you’re coming from the direction of Goa Gajah, the temple is located on the left side of the road before Gunung Kawi. Tampaksiring is a popular tourist spot because it’s the location of the beautiful summer palace of Sukarno, Indonesia’s first president, and was built in 1957. Pura Kebo Edan and Tampaksiring are close enough to one another so that you can visit both in a single day.