Further inland the weather is cooler. Plots abound with sweet potato, peanut, corn and spices. A high kulkul drum tower marks the entrance to Bangli, capital of a kingdom descended from the early Gelgel dynasty. The largest and most sacred temple of the district is Pura Kehen, the terraced mountain sanctuary and state temple of Bangli.

An ancient document tells of the slaughter of a black bull during a feast held at this temple in the year 1204. Down below at the foot of the stairway, there is an old temple which contains a collection of historical records inscribed on bronze plates.

Statues, in wayang kulit shadow play style, line the first terrace from which steps lead to a magnificent closed gate the people of Bangii call "the great exit".

Above the gate looms the hideous face and splayed hands of KalaMakara, the demonic one who catches harmful spirits to prevent them from entering. On either side are statues of villagers gesturing a welcome.

An enormous banyan tree shades the first courtyard, where the walls are inlaid with Chinese porcelain. An eleven-tiered meru dominates the inner sanctuary. Here, on the right, you see the three-throned shrine of the Hindu trinity: Brahma, Siwa, and Vishnu. A hierarchy of deities is carved on the back of the shrine. By turning left at Bangli, you may bypass the volcano and take a short cut to Tampaksiring. Just 3 kilometers out of Bangli on this road is Demulih hill. It is well worth the climb up, for the view of central Bali is superb, and the hilly setting (worthy of being declared a sanctuary) is conducive to peace and relaxation.

Bangli itself, a little town that is usually passed through, is rewarding and worth a walk through to view some of the stone Statues and temple reliefs. To reach the volcanoes of Batur and Abang, continue straight. Many villages in this mountain region have retained an older form of culture that was not deeply influenced by the courts of the lower slopes.


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