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Besakih Mother Temple is located on the holiest mountain in Bali, the volcanic Mount Agung, and is itself the biggest and holiest temple on the island. It sits at about 1000 metres high on Mount Agung’s southwestern slopes, overlooking verdant rice paddies and breathtaking mountains and streams. The temple was built before 1000 AD, where it was originally dedicated to Besakih, the dragon god that was believed to live on the sacred mountain, and is now a complex collection of at least 86 temples.

Besakih is unique in that it’s the only temple where any Hindu can worship, regardless of their caste. There are three central temples, dedicated to Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu, and then 18 other shrines for various caste groups. There are many temples to see at Besakih, but some are only open to pilgrims, not tourists, and their inner courtyards will be closed off. As you ascend the stairs from the bottom of the mountain, you will come across various sanctuaries, such as Pura Pangubengan, with its incredible views, Pura Batu Tirtha, where holy water is sourced, and Pura Peninjoan, which has an amazing vista of Bali’s beaches.

The site of the temple has been considered holy for thousands of years, and people still believe it is a sacred place. In fact, when Mount Agung erupted in 1963, its lava only just missed the temple, and many considered this a miracle from the gods.

The temple is busiest during the day when it becomes a bit of a tourist trap. The best time to visit is in the early morning and evening when the complex is quiet. Please keep in mind that you should wear the appropriate dress of sarong and sash, which can be rented on the premises.