Take a trip to the vast western part of the island and admire the history, the legends, and the simple natural grandeur of various spots there. We start from the south and take a look at the significant temples, the coastline, and a Catholic church in the village of Palasari.
Start off our journey this time to the west of the island. Most overland journeys going to the neighboring island of Java, the regency of Banyuwangi to be precise, would travel through this region. Yet you do not need to hop between the islands to look for a hoard of highlights to explore, as the region itself is dotted with abundant historical sites to see.
Embarking from Bali’s south you would cross the regency borders of Badung and Tabanan and travel along the main road for around two to three hours until you reach a stopover, a spiritual stopover that is. But before reaching the stopover, head out to the west’s own site to surf – the rolling waves and the beaches of Medewi.
Pantai Medewi, or Medewi Beach is often considered the ‘Kuta’ of the Jembrana regency. So if you do get bored of the crowded waves in the south, head to the northwest. Medewi is great fun for surfing due to its long curling waves, plus it is a scenic sunset vantage point. It has now become a favorite alternative for surfers, and several accommodation facilities are available nearby. And on the culinary side, there are restaurants that cater to international taste buds there too.
This temple, referred to in veneration as ‘Pura Luhur Rambut Siwi,’ is located in the village of Yeh Embang at Mendoyo in the Jembrana regency and celebrates its Pawukon calendar-based anniversary of Umanis Perangkabat on June 17.
According to knowledgeable local elders, Rambut Siwi is closely related to the legend of high priest Dang Hyang Nirartha while on his way from the Majapahit kingdom in East Java to Bali circa 1489. When he entered the temple grounds, he took a strand of his hair and placed it at the temple as an offering and as a curing talisman, as there was a plague in a nearby village. Ever since, it has been referred to by its current name, rambut meaning ‘hair’ and Siwi meaning ‘worship.’
Rambut Siwi is a scenic stopover, surrounded by terraces of rice fields and a cliff with crashing waves beneath. Nearby there are resting spots that enable weary drivers to take a break and enjoy the view. It is also a spiritual stopover for the Balinese Hindus who continue their journey to the west, where they can pray for a safe travels north and further westward.
Candikusuma Beach is about 12 km to the west of the capital city of Jembrana, named Negara. Candikusuma often is the sporting site for Jukung sailboat contests each August 17 for the Indonesian Independence Day celebration.
In the village of Palasari stands a majestic Catholic Church that has also become a symbol of religious tolerance. The commune was initiated by Father Simon Buis, SVD in 1940.
Further northwest and around the tip of Gilimanuk, where the crossing to East Java’s Ketapang harbor takes place, enjoy the diving and snorkeling playgrounds of Menjangan Island. And just near the bay lies a site of Bali’s own Romeo & Juliet.
PURA GEDE PERANCAK
This prominent Hindu sea temple is located in Perancak, and also commemorates the site of Dang Hyang Nirartha’s arrival in Bali in 1546. Continuing up the road from Rambut Siwi, one follows a signpost just before Delodberawah where a crocodile statue (among the icons of the Jembrana regency) stands in the middle of the road. Another icon of the place – bull racing – is organized here. Called Makepung in the local tongue, these bull races were initially competitions among farmers, where a pair of highly decorated bulls pull their masters on cikar chariots. The muddy rice field race courses are up to 4 km long. The races are now an annual affair with two major events – the Governor’s Cup and the Regent’s Cup, and usually take place at a dedicated circuit on Dlodberawah beach. Jegog bamboo orchestras and dancing are always featured during the races. According to the regency’s Cultural and Tourism Government Office, the racing calendar for this year will include events on July 5 and 19, August 2, 16 and 30, September 13 and 27, October 11 and November 1 – considerably a lot of time to plan ahead…
In the bay of Teluk Terima there is the eternal love story of Jayaprana and Layonsari, Bali’s own Romeo & Juliet. The story goes that the King of Kalianget was smitten by Layonsari’s beauty and wanted to kill her lover by inviting him on a hunting trip into the thick West Bali Jungle. At Teluk Terima, Jayaprana was murdered by one of the king’s guards. Upon hearing about the death of her lover, Layonsari thrust a keris dagger into her own heart.
High on a small hill overlooking the bay is the burial grounds of the two lovers, which was later developed into a temple site. Golden yellow cloths adorn their graves as worshippers from all around come in reverence and remembrance of their strong love.
PATHS TO DISCOVER
Pura Luhur Sari Teluk Trima is the first temple you come across on the Gilimanuk to Singaraja route. Then Pura Menjangan, Pura Pulaki and Pura Pabean follow after. A staircase rises towards a densely shaded and grey macaque inhabited temple ground. Just across from this site are two other significant temples, Pura Pabean and Pura Agung Pulaki.
The island’s west is dotted with numerous highlights. Might as well take your time and discover them all.