As part my will to share with you things to do in Bali of the beaten track, I bring you today Buleleng a district in the mountains in Central/North Bali. If you want quietness and chilly nights this is your place, heat during the day but the mountain breeze at night. This was my favorite place in Bali, I loved the nature and all it has to offer, and the best of all is that only a few tourists go up to North Bali in the mountains so you can almost be there by yourself enjoying the landscape. We spent a day discovering the area of the Lakes in Bululeng and these are my recommendations:
The water temple: Pura Ulun Danu Bratan Lake in Bali
The lake Beratan or Bratan is in the highlands of Bedugul regency in Bali, is 1500 metres above sea level, so expect to bring a jacket as it might get chilly. The name Beratan comes from the word Brata that means to push yourself to fulfil the 9 primary needs of life, quite an spiritual meaning as you can see. The lake Bratan has a called water temple in it that I am sure you have seen around, very peculiar for its shape. The temple is often surrounded by a mist that rises from the lake and hangs around in the air, giving the temple a magical appearance.
The lake Beratan is the second largest lake in Bali, it sits in the "holy mountain" as the villagers call it as the weather is cool and the soil fertile. It is said that long time ago the lake Beratan was the largest lake in Bali but after an earthquake, the lake was divided into three sections: Beratan, Buyan and Tamblingan. The earthquake gave birth the three lakes that we know nowadays, or at least is what the legend says.
The temple was built in 1663, the temple is used for offerings and ceremonies to the Balinese water. There is a lake and river goddess called Dewi Danu, Danu means queen of the water. The lake is very important in the area being the main source of irrigation in Central Bali and it is a life source for surrounding communities, that is why the water queen is venerated.
The area where the temple was built it is believed to have been a site of worship and religious rituals since the megalithic period. That explains a sarcophagus that is to the left of the temple that dates from 500 BC. We were lucky enough to see a ceremony going on the same time we were visiting the temple, if you can find out if there are ceremonies when you are visit the lake is good if you can see it.The temple was built following the Trimurti belief, it represents the three holy colors for the three Gods for Hinduism: Shiva for white, Bhrama for red and Vishnu for black.
In the way to Ulun Danu lake you can stop by in Candikuning, a famous town for its daily market. There are spices, fruits, vegetables etc…It is also near the Botanic Gardens, we did not visit them though.
Bali twin lakes: Buyan and Tamblingan
The twin lakes are two crater lakes located within the caldera of the extinct Bedugul volcano. They are separated only by a forest that is one kilometer long, there is a pool that is connected to the lake Buyan through a narrow channel. The community pool is called Lake Aya in case you want to visit it. We stopped to see the beautiful landscape from the top of the hill to observe the two lakes, I know there are some magnificent trekkings around the area to walk on the lakes. If we would have had more time we would have rented a guide to walk in the area, I am sure it has to be an incredible experience.
Danau Tamblingan in Bali
Tamblingan lies 1, 224 meters above sea level and it is a small lake covering a surface of 1, 5 square kilometres, the name is derived from the words "tamba" which means medicine or medicinal and "elingang" that means spiritual. There is a famous legend about the lakes that goes to the 10th century and the residents of the surrounding villages, Munduk, Gobleg, Gesing and Umejero were the guardians of the sanctity of the lake.
One day, the villages were affected by an infectious disease, a holy priest went down to the lake to take some water and he prayed that the lake with its spiritual powers could cure the for villages with the lake's healing waters. It is said that from that moment onwards, people built many temples in the surrounding area.
Up north the lakes in the coast, are the cities of Lovina and Singaraja, I didn't find them particularly interesting, to be honest to visit them. Although Lovina has all its fame to be the perfect place to see dolphins and we didn't, cultural wise there is not much to visit in town.
We had lunch in Singaraja in the port, they have seafood and fish restaurants in the dock overlooking the sea, the food was very good and the price reasonable for Indonesia's standards. My fresh fish, mid size cost 50K IDR which translated to 4 euros, with rice and salad a side included in the price.
Danau Buyan in Bali
The Lake Buyan lies 1214 meters above sea level, an it is surrounded by coffee and clove plantations. There is no motorized boating in any of the twin laked but row boats to rent are available and kayak is also a common activity in the area. You will also see local fishermen in the lake paddling their traditional perahu. On the road winding up the hill there are wild monkeys on the road sides, be careful because they are not that used to humans as the ones in the
Monkey Forest in Ubud.
Where to stay in Bali? Buleleng area
To visit the area of the lakes we stayed at Munduk Moding Plantation (MMP). Munduk Moding plantation is and eco-friendly boutique hotel in the mountains of Buleleng district, near the lakes. If you are enjoying your honeymoon as we were when we visited, it is the perfect spot to relax but also to see interesting natural sites around. They have the top 3 best infinity pool of the world, and you can see how relaxed I looked in there enjoying the landscape. This hotel has become one of my top choices of special places I have been to travelling the world.