BAli Art And Architecture


Balinese architecture is unique and inspired by the human body.  Traditionally, dwellings and buildings reflected the dimensions of the patriarch who lived there.  Traditional homes have central living areas for daily activities and holy inner-sanctums for prayer and meditation.  The tropical climate of Bali allows for most activities to be held outdoors, and every home has a courtyard. Traditional peasant homes tend to be tiny and simple with a single cleanly-swept yard, while palaces can be ornately carved with dozens, if not hundreds of interior courtyards. Balinese landscape design, particularly that of gardens and courtyards is a widely exported skill: Balinese master-gardeners have been enticed as far afield as California, India, the Middle East and UK.  Bali is also home to a lot of public art, particularly sculptures that guard intersections and temple forecourts. On the other hand, internationally-renowned architects have been pushing the envelope of topical design for homes and resorts in Bali for decades, many of which are indeed worth a visit.  This proposed tour is centered around a stay at two of Bali’s most elegant resorts, the Alila Manggis Hotel in the East of Bali and the equally charming Alila Ubud Resort in the Central hills. Both hotels boast their own characteristic design and architecture elements that are interesting to observe and experience during your stay.

2011 Dates:    September 6 - 15

                      November 16 - 25

2012 Dates:    January  10 - 19

                     September 2 - 11

Day 1 Arrive in Singapore

Flights typically arrive late at night so transfer to the hotel and begin to catch up on jet lag. 

Day 2 Singapore sightseeing

Sleep in for a late breakfast, followed by a walk to the Asian Civilization Museum for the morning tour.  Lunch at the nearby restaurant and return to the hotel through the central colonial section of old Singapore.  Optionally, enjoy cocktails at the sky high lounge above the Fairmount Hotel for a panoramic view of Singapore.

Day 3 Singapore - Bali

Arrive in Denpasar Airport, and transfer by car to the Mangiss Hotel stopping along the drive to appreciate two magnificent sculptures:  Gatotkaca's Last Battle and Dewa Ruci.  Explore the hotel and gardens and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure before a welcome cocktail reception and dinner.

Day 4 Eastern Bali Sightseeing

Breakfast at leisure followed by an afternoon journey to Amlapura for a glimpse of a palace and colonial architecture.  Within 25 minutes drive from the hotel are three special sites:

  1. Puri Karangasem - The ornately carved home of the royal family of Karangasem, a kingdom which ruled the east coast of Bali during collonial times.

  2. Taman Ujung Soekasada Water Palace - Built as a designated place where Karangasem Royalty would host the colonial administration, including a visit by Queen Wilhelmina, this site is characterized by its wide open spaces and a principal pavillion located at the center of a man-made lake.

  3. Tirta Gangga Water Palace - Literally 'water of the Ganges', Tirtagangga is the watergarden folly of the Karangasem royal family which sits upon the natural springs of Rejasa. The over 5,000 litres per second of water flows through the pools and channels surrounding buildings now converted into holiday homes and sculpture gardens before irrigating rice fields below.

Day 5 - Tenganan Sightseeing

After breakfast, by bicycle (30 minutes) or van explore Tenganan for ancient village architecture.  Tenganan is one of the few remaining Bali Aga (mountain or 'indigenous' Bali) villages that is impressively well-preserved, thanks to tough local laws and customs which include, among others, a ban on felling any live tree in the village forest for purposes other than ceremonial. Return to the hotel for dinner on your own and overnight.

Day 6 - Eastern to Central Bali - Option 1

Enjoy a scenic drive along the route to Ubud to visit the Kertha Gosa Museum.  Located at the heart of Bali's ancient capital of Klungkung, Kertha Gosa was the courthouse in colonial times and is decorated with hundreds of panels creating friezes that depict the punishments of hell and the rewards of heaven as witnessed by the warrrior Bhima in his search for his deceased parents. It consists of elevated pavilions surrounded by lotus ponds, a temple with courtyard and an annex containing displays recounting the history of Bali and Klungkung. A separate wing also houses bronze sculptures, paintings and sketches by celebrated italian painter Emilio Ambron. Ambron's home town of Florence is a sister city to Klungkung.

Following Kertha Gosa, visit Besakih, a Bayung Traditional Village, and Pura Kehen, arriving at the hotel in late afternoon.  Located at the base of Mount Agung, Bali's highest volcano, Besakih is often referred to as the "mother temple" of Bali and is the largest temple complex worthy of getting lost in for at least three hours. All the clans of Bali have an ancestral shrine within this sprawling temple complex, and the founding of the main temple here is often considered the spiritual protection for 9th to 15th century migrations from Java to Bali. Lunch or coffee stop in Panelokan to view the magnificent natuaral wonder that is the Batur caldera, lake and volcano.

Bayung Traditional Village - Building homes in Bayung continues to be a communal exercise, to the point that outsiders seeking their exquisite skill with locally-grown bamboo (woven into walls or sliced into intricately tied bamboo-tiled roofs) are told "Sorry, we only do this for each other, you can't pay us to do it for you." Their bamboo roofs biodegrade in 8-15 years, so there is plenty of communal work to do. Affluent Bayung dwellers are starting to build with concrete and wood, but there are many good examples of bamboo houses in various states of decomposition. Arrive at Alila Ubud in the late afternoon.


Day 6. Scenic route to Ubud - Option 2

Enjoy the same scenic drive to Kertha Gosa (see description in Option 1 above) followed by visits to Pura Kehen temple, Penglipuran Traditional Village, and Batur Temple, arriving at the hotel in late afternoon.

  1. Pura Kehen - This small temple on the outskirts of Bangli displays a distinct mountain style. The terraced outer courtyard is dotted with sculptures of ogres. 

  2. Penglipuran Traditional Village - Whipped into an orderly state during the new-order era to be a showcase traditional Balinese village for an official visit by President Soeharto, Penglipuran is a textbook model of the traditional village and home layout of the Bangli region.  Lunch or coffee stop in Panelokan to view the magnificent natuaral wonder that is the Batur caldera, lake and volcano. 

  3. Batur Temple - Bali's second largest temple complex holding the north (Mountain) ward of the island (as opposed to Besakih at it's 'center') can make up for missing Besakih. There are fewer steps here, so this is a better option for those with limited mobility. 

  4. Penulisan Temple - One of the highest temples in Bali, this temple is at the top of over 500 steps. The view of Bali's north-east coast is astounding, however recent renovations have removed much of the old-Bali charm of this centuries-old temple. Some ancient carvings of deities in andesite stone remain.

Day 7 Ubud Sightseeing - Ancient and Present Capitals

Due to its success in attracting foreign visitors since the golden days of Balinese cultural tourism (1927-1932), Ubud has come to be regarded as the cultural heart of Bali, its palace architecture increasingly infiltrating home and temple architecture throughout the Balinese landscape which had in past centuries had their own homegrown architecture in response to available materials. Important places to visit are Ubud Palace, Museum Puri Lukisan

Royal Pita Maha Hotel (the Ubud Royals latest folly).

  1. Taman Ayun Mengwi - The ancient Kingdom of Mengwitani, which was absorbed by neighbouring kingdoms

  2. during the colonial era, once boasted a regal capital, still visible in the distincly wider oneway avenues of the township. The jewel of Mengwi is the Taman Ayun temple which is vying for World Heritage status.

  3. Denpasar - Bali's current capital has a number of sites worthy of note: Puri Denpasar for palace architecture, Museum Bali for history, Jagadnatha temple for a compact urban temple and its neighboring Balinese-style Catholic Cathedral.

Enjoy a final dinner with an opportunity to talk with a resident architect and developer.

Day 8 Ubud - Yogyakarta

Transfer to the airport for the flight to Yogyakarta.  After welcome and check in visit the incomparable Borobadur Temple, known as a center of classical Javanese fine art and culture such as batik, ballet, drama, music, poetry and puppet shows. It is also one of Indonesia's most renowned centers of higher education.  Visit Borobadur, one of the largest and most elegant Buddhist temple buildings from the 8th century.

Day 9 Yogyakarta

After Breakfast, visit Pranbanam, an extensive complex of Hindu temples to the east of Yogyakarta.  Return to the city for some shopping at the batik and silver workshops before leaving in the evening for Singapore.  Overnight at the airport hotel in Singapore.

Day 10 Singapore- International Flights Home

Individual, private tours are available weekly.  For information about a custom itinerary, please contact Silk and Stones Travel

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Bali Temple, Indonesia