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Puncak Penulisan Temple

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An island shrouded in magic and mystery, often referred to as The Island of the Gods, it has been said of Bali that there are more temples than homes. Perched at the summit of Mount Penulisan, 1,745 meters above sea level, Pucak Penulisan Temple is the highest temple in Bali, as well as the oldest. More popularly known as Pura Tegeh Kahuripan, Penulisan Temple is located in the village of Sukawana in Kintamani, in the district of Bangli. Ancient inscriptions from the 9th century refer to this temple, while the architectural features of the building hold certain cultural aspects from the prehistoric megalithic age, suggesting the structure may have stood for many millennia. The exact age of this temple remains unknown as its existence far surpasses that of the culture, religion, and recorded history of the Island. This ancient holy place was not designed in the same way as the usual Balinese temples, as the more recent temples have been acculturated with the Javanese styles of Sanggaran, Meru and Gedong. Because of that, temples from earlier times which were patterned in the authentic Balinese Style are often referred to as temples from the Early Bali Age or True Bali Age. The temple consists of 5 walled complexes, spanning across 11 tiers of a terraced hill. The hill is carved in pyramidal form, which some archaeologists believe bears resemblance to culture from the megalithic era. Each of the temples is built on a different level, connected by stairs to the next. The highest is located on the seventh tier, reflecting the Hindu Septa Loka Concept, which represents the 7 realms of the universe. The first temple is situated on the third level of the hill (Swah Loka) and contains two small shrines of carved, tiered towers by the names of Dana Temple and Taman Dana Temple. On the fourth level (Maya Loka,) facing to the east, is the Ratu Temple, while theRatu Daha Tua Temple is found on the sixth level (Tapa Loka,) to the west. The highest temple, Panarajon Temple, is located on the seventh level (Sunya Loka,) to the east of the peak. This last temple contains a vast collection of carved stone monuments, ancient sculptures of the Kings of Bali and other relics of Bali’s megalithic heritage. Construction of the temple is believed to have been around 300 B.C., during The Bronze Age. Various inscriptions and artifacts dating between the 11th and 15th centuries have been found throughout the temples which help archaeologists and historians to determine the functions of the temple in previous times. The oldest inscription is dated to 1011A.D. (993 Balinese Caka Year), and reads The King was Mpu Bga Anatah. Another inscription on the Bukit Indrahilla Temple, a temple close to Kintamani Village, dates 1016 A.D. (938 Caka) and states that the people of Parcanigayan (the previous name of a village in Kintamani) asked their ruler, Anak Wungsu, to attend a celebration that was being held by his wife, Bhatari Mandul. Their request was granted. Inscriptions from 1332 A.D. (1254 Caka) read Raja Sri Asta Sura Ratna Bhumi, who was the last Balinese King before the island was overcome by the Majapahit Empire. Dr. WF Sturterheim, in his book entitled “Van Oudheden Bali I-11” (1929-1930), concluded that the artifacts and archaeological objects found within the temple grounds came from the Old Bali Era. This was based on the discovery of several artifacts dating between 1077 A.D. (999 Caka) and 1436 A.D. (1352 Caka). One such discovery was the statue of a man with a woman behind him, entitled Prastita (Shrine of the Holy Spirit.) Behind the Prastita sculpture was yet another statue of a woman, inscribed Batari Mandul (Barren Goddess.) These inscriptions led to the conclusion that the relics were from the time of the reign of Raja Anak Wungsu (Caka 911-933,) the King with no son. Other findings supporting the notion of the temple’s existence during the Old Bali Era were a pair of statues standing 92cm tall, wearing crowns and earrings. The statues were discovered in 1922 by Tim Peneliti from The Faculty of Literature. The university research team also uncovered many inscriptions which were carved by Mpu Bga Anatah. Another statue of a woman carved from rock stands 154 cm. On the back of the statue reads the inscription Batari Mandul (Barren Goddess) and the year Caka 999 (1077 A.D.) In addition to the above mentioned sculptures and inscriptions, is another statue of a man with his right hand held downwards and his right hand extended out. This age of this statue is estimated to the Mid-Bali Era (13th century.) Other findings which have been categorized to the Mid-Bali Era are the four-faced Lord Brahama Statue and the elephant-headed god, Ganesha. The temple also holds vast collection of hundreds of phalluses, which are manifestations of the Lord Shiva. There is also a stone adored with the Moon and the Sun, which is considered to be a representation of the Lord Brahma. A miniature temple can also be found as a symbol that the mountain is the place of the gods. With the amount of prehistoric relics from various periods, the site functions as an ancient place of worship, a must-see tourist destination, and a much sought-after area of research for scientists and historians.

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