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ᝰ THE STORY
Mystic Besakih pays tribute to the most important and largest temple of Bali: Pura Besakih. Balinese people worship the great cosmic mountain Agung, the highest of the island, and rule their life by the eternal principle of orientation. This photograph is a visual representation of their relationship of the mountains to the seas (high and low, right and left) that constitutes the ever-Balinese present rose of winds, the nawa sanggah. To the Balinese, everything that is high is good and powerful. Perched at around 1,000m (3,280ft) and sitting on the slopes of Gunung Agung, Besakih is regarded as the holiest temple of the entire island where all Balinese venerate the area with deep respect.
The temple consists almost entirely of merus—high pagodas of wood resting on stone platforms. The merus are always built with an odd number of superimposed receding roofs, usually from 3 to 11. They are made with thick layers of ijuk, the everlasting and costly fiber of the sugar palm. The merus are supposed to represent the Agung mountain and are the seats of the high Hindu gods. Mystic Besakih puts into highlights a series of merus, conferring to the temple a dimension of divinity and untouchability, as if higher and more important than any human beings, and closer than ever with the gods.
For this very reason, thousands of Balinese gather each year to feel the spiritual power of the Besakih Temple and be even closer to the gods. With the lava flows missing the temple by mere meters after the violent eruption of Agung in 1963, the Balinese consider it as a true miracle but also as a demonstration from the powerful gods to show that they intend to protect this temple completed since the 15th Century.
Conditions to take this frame turned out to be harder than expected because I was trapped under heavy rain for two hours. This shot was taken in between two short breaks of intense showers, while having birds flying around the merus, giving a dramatic and epic final touch to the overall mood of the place.
📍Karangasem, Bali 🗓 2023