Standing majestically on the east coast of Bali is the island’s highest mountain: Gunung Agung Bali or Mount Agung, based in the district of Karangasem. With its summit reaching a height of 3, 031 meters above sea level, Mt. Agung influences the surrounding climate. Its western slopes capture rain clouds make the west side lush and fertile, while its eastern slopes remain dry and barren. The Balinese believe that Mt. Agung is the home of the gods, and the volcano consequently is revered as sacred. It’s on this mountain, where the mother of all the temples in Bali is, is called Pura Besakih.
Entering the temple one has to climb hundreds of steps before reaching the main gate. But, fortunately, other stairs with more straightforward climbs can be found to make it simpler for females carrying high mountains of offerings on their heads to reach the temple. Best time to visit Besakih is at Galungan’s celebrations when the whole entry and temple is beautifully decorated with tall bamboo poles, coconut leaves, and flowers, while hundreds of women in a neat row, in their best white costume, gracefully bears heaps of colorful fruits and blossoms offerings on their head. While commanding protectively in the background of the temple looms Mt. Agung. This is indeed a spectacle never to be forgotten. Even though Mt. Agung inspires peace and tranquility, nevertheless, after one hundred years of slumber, on 17 March 1963 the volcano burst violently, spewing ash and volcanic materials eight to ten km high to the air while pyroclastic clouds rolled down all sides of the mountain. Over a thousand people perished that day. And the whole surrounding down to Kintamani was blanketed for months in thick gray ash. But astonishingly, the ash brought fertility, and large yams grew from the volcanic material.
Today, however, the landscape has turned green and fertile again, and Mt. Agung became a steep mountain to climb. There are two paths that trekkers might follow, the steepest and toughest being the trail right by Pura Besakih. The 2nd Is along its southern summit starting from Pura Pasir Agung. Reaching the top one has a spectacular View of Bali with to its east the island of Lombok with its volcanic peak of Mt. Rinjani.