Mt Batur caldera, Kintamani, Bali

Trunyan Village

Kintamani, the region encompassed within the Mount Batur caldera, contains several traditional Bali Aga villages, descendants of the original aboriginals who resided in Bali long before the 14th century invasion by the Majapahit peoples. There is evidence that Trunyan Village down on the eastern shores of the lake, existed as far back as 882AD. Legend has it that the village was established where an ancient taru menyan tree stood; the lovely scent of which lured the Hindu goddess Ida Batara Dewi Ulan Danau down from heaven. The taru menyan is the lair of underworld demon who are distracted from dastardly deed only by corpses which explains the Aga’s enduring practise of neither burying or cremating their dead. Instead bodies are given open burials in shallow pits and only covered with a light cloth. Apart from offering a different perspective of Mount Batur over the lake, and great views from the path up the southeast slope of Mount Abung behind the village, the ancient cemetery is the village’s rather morbid main attraction.

Assuming you’re already in the Kintamani region, perhaps to visit Mount Batur, the easiest way to reach Trunyan is by boat from Kedisan village (just below Penelokan) or Toya Bungkah. Small public boats depart when full and cost around 5.000Rp per person, otherwise a charter boat seating up to seven people will set you back around 40.000Rp. Alternatively, follow the road around the southern edge of the lake through Kedisan, Buahan to the road end at the tiny hamlet of Abang, then trek 4km around the eastern shoreline to Trunyan. It’s a rather strenuous trek with some steep hills and you can expect to be stopped along the way by locals informing you that Trunyan can’t be reached on foot (untrue) and trying to convince you to hire a boat instead. For clarity, the village can be reached on foot, the cemetery cannot.

On a cautionary note, the villagers at Trunyan have a reputation for being quite unwelcoming, despite relying heavily on tourist revenues and clamouring for money from the moment you step off the boat. Many of the old buildings which had been crudely crafted from volcanic rock have been replaced with modern homes and although a 1,100 year old milkwood tree and a few traditional buildings remain, Trunyan no longer feels like an old village. There’s a temple that dominates the village but visitors are not allowed to enter. Inevitably, many visitors step off the boat, pay a 5,000Rp admission fee, get hassled into engaging a guide for 5,000Rp who marches them up to the temple where another 5,000Rp “viewing” fee is extracted before returning to the boat for a 5,000Rp trip around the rocky point to the cemetery. Sadly, Trunyan village has become a rather unsatisfactory experience. If you really want to check out Bali Aga culture, Tenganan village is a far better option.

Kintamani, approx 2 hours from Denpasar
East Bali
2-3 hours from Kedisan village (Kintamani)
Get there
Public boat from Kedisan or Toya Bungkah
Need to know
Be prepared to put your hand in your pocket at each stop along the way