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10 October 2021

Bali - Indonesia - living in the shadow of a volcano


Hello Folks✌️


As promised, we are returning today to Bali where we have already visited the Nusa Dua peninsula with beautiful geysers. Maybe this article is worth refreshing?

I don't know if you noticed, but recently we have been recording quite a lot of seismic activity in many places on earth. And these are volcanic eruptions in the Canary Islands, the eruption of Vesuvius in Sicily, and recently, two earthquakes, one in the Philippines and one in Japan.



So what will you say if today we are moving in the shadow of a volcano in Bali?

I am taking you on an expedition to the Batur volcano, which is one of the two active volcanoes in Bali.

The largest is the Agung volcano, which is a huge mountain almost 3000 m above sea level. It is active and its last eruption took place in 2019.

We will go to the slightly smaller, 1717 m above sea level, volcano Batur.

What makes it so interesting? In my opinion, its location and the fact that around this volcano, and in fact in the old crater of the original volcano, we will see the largest lake on the island of Bali. Lake… Batur.

It is a picturesque place, easily accessible by car or on foot, and is well prepared for servicing tourists. The surroundings of the volcano give the opportunity to admire the views thanks to the viewing terraces built in the back of small bars and restaurants.

Lunch or dinner with a volcano in the background? Here you are. So let's spend time there and see what such a volcano looks like.

Next to Lake Batur, which stretches beautifully at the foot of the present volcano cone, there is also the Pura Ulun Danu Batur temple. We basically have a complex of three attractions in one place. This also determines its popularity.

The view of the volcano, in general, is not very common, especially in Poland. Every time I visited Indonesia, whether it was in Bandung or Surabaya, the sight of the mighty conical mountains from which smoke sometimes came out was awe-inspiring.

Batur volcano is specific for several reasons.

First, it is an active volcano that has two craters, an outer and an inner.

It is in this outer crater, which has a rectangular area of ​​10 x 13 kilometers, that houses the lake of the same name.

The lake was created as a result of the collapse of the old cave of the plenum chamber, which was created about 30 thousand years ago.

The present volcano cone, clearly visible from anywhere, is a new summit, created from the recent volcanic eruptions, elevated at 1700 m above sea level.

It is covered with black, solidified basalt magma from recent eruptions.

The older parts of the slope, which were not flooded with magma, are now covered with green vegetation.

The last active eruptions of this volcano are in 1999 and 2000.

Volcanic eruptions are usually accompanied by a fairly abundant lava flow, which is basalt and forms black "tongues" on its slopes. The cone visible above the surface of the lake was formed as a result of many eruptions and emerges from the lake to a relative height of 700 m.



Batur volcano

When you look at the slopes, you will see buildings at the foot of this volcano.

They are inhabited villages.

When you look a little higher with binoculars, you can see that as a result of recent eruptions, lava has flooded old habitats.

The first documented eruption took place in 1804.

This volcano was active relatively frequently until the last eruption in 2000.

What you see straight ahead when looking at the slopes of the volcano is the flow of lava congealed into black basalt from 1968.

Visible until today, it has not yet been covered with any vegetation. You can also see the fresh formations of the eruptions from 1999 and 2000. Amazing.

Driving up to the places that are intended for observation, I wondered how it is possible that knowing that the volcano is active, people still build houses and settle, risking losing their homes but also their lives?

I can clearly see 4 villages, their red roofs stand out against the green in large clusters. In addition to the largest four, there are also a total of 15 small villages. The word "village" does not reflect the essence of housing in Indonesia.

It is quite typical of the entire archipelago that houses are built very close to each other, mainly due to the ownership of the land owned by the family and divided into small plots of land among its members.

These houses are basically separated by small paths to ensure access to each of them. Such dense development is, among other things, the cause of significant losses in the event of natural disasters. The tongue of lava just sweeps the entire village away at once. It is similar with landslides or floods. Despite the threat, such enclaves of land are built up very quickly after each catastrophe. For me it is a bit incomprehensible.

In the case of the volcano area, there is another reason. As you probably know, the volcanic soil is very fertile, so the inhabitants of this area, risking their lives, have good conditions for cultivating the land. If we add a large lake to that, it also goes to fishing.

Their choice. My personal opinion on this topic is simple. I wouldn't build a house there.



The Lake

Batur volcano, like Agung, are volcanoes known as - stratovolcanoes.

Let's explain what it means.

These volcanoes eject magma, pyroclastic rocks and ash that quickly solidify into basalt. Low speed and high clotting causes that very quickly build up high cones with a large inclination of the walls. The volcano quickly forms a mountain that looks like a triangle from a distance. A pyramidal volcanic mountain is forming.

Overlapping layers of magma from successive eruptions build up layers called "stratos". Hence the name of such volcanoes - stratovolcanoes.

It is the most popular type of volcano in the world.

Not so long ago, in September 2012, this area was included in the world network of "Geo - parks" under the aegis of UNESCO.

The intensive farming around the volcano, the large "overfishing" of Lake Batur and the rapid growth of the water hyacinth make the lake's waters less and less able to self-clean and replenish resources. This, together with the high porosity of the volcano's rocks, is causing the water level to drop steadily.

This has the effect of changing the behavior of the local population. They are starting to switch more and more to serving tourists. They make many handcrafted souvenirs which are sold in numerous stalls with folk handicrafts. These are basalt figurines, pictures made of ground basalt rock and all kinds of hand-made ornaments, including textiles.

This work takes more and more time for the residents and, at the same time, is a significant source of income.



Once there, it is worth spending at least a few hours observing the volcano. For example, at sunrise or sunset.

The weather changes constantly. And these are the clouds, and this is the sun, also temporary rainfall. The views are fantastic indeed.

Blue sky reflecting in the lake, dramatically black basalt rock covering the volcano's tongues, sometimes a plume of smoke coming out of the cone.

The greenery covering the slopes of the older eruptions combined with the red roofs of local residents' houses creates an unforgettable impression.

There are many opportunities to spend time.

Well-prepared viewing terraces connected with a restaurant or a bar invite you to stay. If we decide, the Indonesian cuisine offer, often in the form of a buffet, will enhance our experience. In addition, you can drink coconut juice and, of course, buy a number of souvenirs. It is not known when 5 hours pass. This is not the end.



The Temple

Another attraction that you can and even must see while visiting the Batur volcano is the Hindu temple Pura Ulun Danu Batur.

It is one of the most important temples that is responsible for maintaining harmony and social stability throughout the island of Bali.

It is dedicated to the god Vishnu and the local goddess Dewi Danu. This is the goddess of Lake Batur, which, as I mentioned, is the largest lake on the island.

The location of the temple near the lake has its justification. After all, it is the largest source of drinking water for residents. The goddess Dewi Danu is to protect this lake, while ensuring constant access to water for the inhabitants and rice crops.


The name of the temple consists of words that are of great importance to the people of Bali:

Pura - this word means exactly temple,

Ulun - translated as head or source,

Danu - it's a lake.


One can freely translate this temple from the local language as "the temple of the lake of resources."

The very word Batur, included in the names of the volcano, lake and temple, means purity and refers to spiritual purity.

Thus, the name of the temple reflects the importance of water for the prosperity of the villagers at the foot of the Batur volcano and for the entire Hindu community of Bali.

The temple itself was built in the seventeenth century. It is located at an altitude of 1460 m above sea level. Unfortunately, it was damaged during one of the volcanic eruptions.



There is a legend related to this.

Before the eruption of the volcano in 1917, the village and the temple were situated directly on the slope. However, the explosion resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people. As if that were not enough, the flowing black lava significantly damaged the infrastructure of the village of Batur and reached the gate of the Pura Ulu Danu Batur temple. There, quite unexpectedly, she stopped.

It was taken as a sign from the gods and people began to settle again around the temple. Unfortunately, in April 1926, the volcano erupted again. This time, destroying the entire village and killing 1.5 thousand people. Lava also reached the temple, covering almost its entire surface.

The only structure that survived this eruption was the 11-story temple pagoda tower.

It was then that the entire area around the volcano was declared uninhabitable and the surviving villages were relocated. A decision was also made to rebuild the temple and move it to its current location along with the surviving pagoda.

The case was so important that the Dutch administrators decided to support this allocation. Soldiers and prisoners were sent to the island to help the local people rebuild the village and the temple in a new place.

The land in the new location was divided according to the size of the families and everyone was allocated a place for a house, and the local government provided money to help the residents build a new village.

Today, the temple complex consists of nine small temples, which contain over 285 Gates - Shrines and pavilions dedicated to various deities. They are mainly deities who are believed to look after water, agriculture, crafts and other areas of life.

In the temple area you will also find five main gardens, and one of them has this preserved weather.

This is where the "Odalan", the main temple festival, takes place. It culminates on the 10th full moon in the Balinese calendar year, which is usually seen in late March or early April in the Gregorian calendar.



This is the second place I visited while in Bali. It was my first encounter with a real volcano. So close you could almost touch the foot of the mountain and smell the lava. But this is what it is like to visit the ring of fire that stretches from Japan to the Philippines and Indonesia to India.

Equipped with souvenirs, beautiful drawings made with the use of black basalt sand, a statue of the goddess Dewi Danu and a tasteful hat, I set off on my way back for the night.


We will come back to Bali in the next article. I will dedicate it to one of the most interesting temples of this island - Uluwatu. Terima kasih Bali, see you soon!



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