Pura Bersakih, The Mother Temple of Bali. Mmm, spectacular indeed it is, but a visit here is not without its hassles – and if you think the following is me moaning check Trip Advisor…
On arrival you have to leave the car some 600m away from the temple entrance and buy tickets. You then have to run the gamut of sarong sales folk (sorry, got one) and sash sellers (OK, you got me there, I forgot my sash) that will be required to get in to the temple.
The next task is to get your tickets checked (yes, the ones you just bought), this involves a cursory glance at said tickets and then a sales pitch about how you need a guide; some sort of register was produced at this point – presumably to authenticate something or other – but I resisted… Guides can be great, but sometimes I just want to wander.
Having passed this test you now have the option of walking 600m up a fairly steep hill – past soft drinks, hats, more sarong sellers etc… or you can take a motorbike to whizz you to the top – fee negotiable of course.
So, you are in… you are at the entrance of Pura Bersakih, The Mother Temple, and you can see it majestically rising up the hillside framed by the giant volcano behind (on a clear day).
Unfortunately, the ticket you hold only allows you to wander the extremities of the temple, as entrance to the main temple is for Hindus only – the sign says so. Now, despite being a complete atheist I do know some facts about religion, and one of the things I know is that you can not become a Hindu, you can only be born one; so it was rather remiss of the ticket seller not to point out that your only chance of getting in is reincarnation – something the average visitor probably didn’t factor in.
Fortunately, all of that shit and old fashioned principle can be happily put to one side for the simple payment of 100,000 Rhp – pay up and you are in.
This ‘flexibility’ really gets on my nerves and I have a hard time keeping a straight face/ not testing the limits of flexibility…
- ‘That sign says Hindus only, why can 100,000 Rhp make me a Hindu?’
- ‘Well, it can’t, but we can guide you to make sure you make no mistakes on the inside’
- ‘Oh, I see, what kind of mistakes am I likely to make’
- ‘You might walk somewhere, you shouldn’t’
etc etc, but if you want in, pay up and shut up… after making them squirm a bit anyway…
These guardians against unintentional religious and social faux pas don’t however seem to be very bothered about all the tat and soft drinks sellers inside – but maybe they are Hindu and can do what the fuck they like…
I have no problem paying to get into places like this, they need money to pay for upkeep; what riles me is that fact that this is so clearly extortion and misdirection of funds, I’m fairly sure none of this cash works its way back to the temple.
Anyway; the place itself: spectacular and must be even more so on a clear day, worth all the crap you have to put up with to get in. The guides are marginally useful, but just trot out the same stuff you will have already read if you do any kind of research before visiting – however you will almost certainly have to relent and use one, and you will be asked for a tip.
There was a purification ceremony going on when I visited – to celebrate some repairs; maybe some of the cash does end up in the right place, who knows…