Bali is barely more than a speck on the map yet this tiny island has a huge reputation. Since it’s “discovery” by a few intrepid surfers back in the late 1970’s, the island has earned itself a place in the hearts of millions of travellers around the world and there’s no sign of the love affair ending any time soon.
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Bali is barely more than a speck on the map yet this tiny island has a huge reputation. Since it’s “discovery” by a few intrepid surfers back in the late 1970’s, the island has earned itself a place in the hearts of millions of travellers around the world and there’s no sign of the love affair ending anytime soon.
Dubbed the “Island of the Gods” it’s hard to know whether the moniker is a reference to the majority Hindu population’s deep spirituality and propensity for numerous gods, or the island’s immense natural beauty and fertility which must surely have been bestowed by a truly benevolent deity. Perhaps it is a combination of both. Either way, the description is entirely apt.
With looming volcanoes, dense tropical jungle, superb beaches, fringing coral reefs, terraced rice fields, soaring coastal cliffs and world class surf, Bali is absolutely gorgeous. But the island doesn’t have a monopoly on tropical splendour. It’s the friendly Balinese and their unique culture that gives the island its particular brand of special.
Bali’s culture is inseparable from the islander’s unique brand of Hinduism which incorporates traditional Hindu gods such as Vishnu and Brahma as well as their own deities, early animistic beliefs and ancestral worship. Every element of life, death and the environment has a spiritual connotation. After the exodus of intellectuals, artists, priests and musicians from Java to Bali in the 15th century following the decline of the Hindu Majapahit Empire, the little island entered a rich period of religious expression that remains at the heart of Balinese culture today. We see it everywhere from the superbly crafted temples, shrines, statues and intricate carvings to the elaborate ceremonies and simple daily acts such as the pretty sidewalk offerings. It’s this honest, pure devotion that visitors find utterly charming.
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