November 21, 2014

Bali- Places to Visit and Things to Do...!!

The tiny island of Bali sprouts out of the azure colours of the Bali sea bringing together a unique blend of exotic culture, wonderful architecture, beautiful landscapes, friendly people and delicious food. Here is the list of interesting places to visit and activities to enjoy while in Bali.

Kuta/ Legian- This is the heart of Bali with a beautiful beach and a vibrant main street which is lined with shops, art galleries, massage centres, pubs, restaurants and hotels. The electric night life and a plethora of pubs and restaurants to choose from, makes this street one of the top places to visit in Bali. Kuta beach, though devoid of shacks (beer is available) is a great place to spend the evenings as the sun creates a splash of colours. It usually gets crowded during the weekends.

Ubud- The art capital of Bali has slowly become as popular as Kuta and attracts hordes of travellers. The numerous art galleries, art streets and a wide range of shops with excellent display of art and wood works is a haven for culture vultures. Ideally, Ubud is the best place to buy a souvenir to take back home. Ubud palace is also quite popular and is well recommended. The step terraced paddy fields in the outskirts of this alluring little town is another big attraction. The lush green fields makes for a serene landscape.

Tegal lalang- Tegal Lalang is known for its terraced paddy fields which offers beautiful vistas as one sits by the many coffee shops that overlook the landscape. Gaze over the beautiful fields in oblivion as you sip your Balinese coffee.

Kintamani- The small hill town of Kintamani is a pleasant surprise from the balmy beaches of Bali. Tucked away from the crowds of Kuta and Ubud, Kintamani has a cool climate, offers spectacular vistas all around and is an ideal place to stroll around doing absolutely nothing. Enjoy an afternoon at any of the numerous restaurants that offer delicious food and magnificent views.

Lake Batur and Mount Batur- Both the lake (the largest crater lake in Bali) and the mountain are best seen from the hill town of Kintamani. The expansive vistas of both are a delight to watch from the view points of Kintamani. However, it is an enthralling experience to trek Mount Batur- an active volcano, to witness the spectacular sunrise from its summit. There are numerous trekking and adventure companies that organize the sunrise trek and this is a must do activity while in Bali.

Beratan lake and Ulun Dhanu temple- This pristine lake situated in northern Bali has mesmerizing panoramic vistas all around with magnificent mountains in the backdrop and serene surroundings. The climate is quite pleasant throughout the year and the beautiful Ulun Dhanu temple with an interesting architecture by the lake adds to its charm. The temple does seem like its floating on the lake when seen from a distance.

Tanah Lot- This is one of the most spectacular temples in Bali. Located on a rock in the sea, this temple can be visited only when the tide is low as it is a precarious walk over a few rocks to this lovely temple off the main land. It is well known for its spectacular sunsets and the myriad colours that appear over the evening sky. It gets quite crowded during the evening.

Uluwatu temple- Though the temple is small and one has to walk through a small monkey forest, the breathtaking vistas from here can leave you spellbound for a while. The temple is located on a cliff which has a sheer 100 meter drop and the clear azure waters way below and the never ending horizon are a delight to watch.

Besakih temple- Besakih temple is the most important and mother of all Hindu temples in Bali. With Mount Agung as its backdrop, this beautiful temple complex has many uniquely built temples amidst a serene setting. 

Thirtha Empul temple- Also known as Tampak Siring temple as it is located in the village by the same name, it is well known for its holy spring water and is considered sacred by most Balinese to take a dip in its holy pool. There are a couple of shrines and most visitors give offerings here.

Taman Ayun temple- This is the royal temple of the Mengwi dynasty and is a popular attraction in Bali. Interesting roof structures blended with Balinese architecture makes this a very attractive temple. The temple also has a surrounding green garden area with fish ponds.

Goa Gajah- Goa Gajah which translates to Elephant cave is a popular cave temple with a beautiful entrance. The attractive entrance to the cave has numerous carvings of various mythological figures and animals. There is also a holy pool next to the cave and a large garden nearby.

Goa Lawah- This bat cave is an important shrine in Bali and a popular place of interest. The cave also acts as a dwelling for thousands of bats and hence the name Goa Lawah (bat cave).

Thirtha Ganga- This beautifully maintained lush garden has numerous ponds and fountains. There is also a wellness spring which many locals consider as sacred. The beautiful natural setting makes this a very popular tourist attraction.

Nusa Dua- Lined with numerous beach resorts, Nusa Dua is a well known tourist spot in Bali. There are many long white sandy beaches such as Greger beach, Blue point beach and Pandawa beach. Apart from being quite safe for swimming, the beaches are also well known for its water sport activities.

Seminyak- If you are keen on luxury shopping, spas, boutiques and bars, Seminyak is the place to head to. Located further north of Legian, Seminyak is well known for its high end accommodations and restaurants. The beach here is quite serene and beautiful.

Jimbaran- Jimbaran is one of the popular beaches in Bali and has numerous beach shacks lined up along its shoreline. The beach is serene, less crowded and offers a wide range of sea food to choose from. Being located close to the airport, you can watch various kinds of air crafts land and take off every other minute as you sip your chilled beer in the scorching sun. 

Sanur- Located along the eastern coast, the beach at Sanur is less crowded, has numerous open air restaurants and water sport facilities. It is serene and offers wonderful vistas of the blue sea and the distant hills. Definitely one of the best beaches on the island.

Lovina beach- Lovina beach is one of the most popular beaches in north Bali. The biggest attraction here is the dolphin watching tour. Numerous dolphins can be seen not very far from the shores of Lovina. There are also many accommodation options, restaurants, bars, art shops and water sport activities here.

Gitgit Waterfalls- Located amidst tropical trees and thick vegetation, Gitgit waterfalls at a height of 35 meters is one of the most beautiful falls in Bali. Water gushing through the green surroundings at an enormous pace is a delight to watch.

Monkey forest- Bali has a couple of monkey forests, which are infested with notorious monkeys, who, if not careful are sure to run away with your belongings. Alas Kedaton near Taman Ayun temple and the Monkey forest in Ubud are the most popular ones.

Kecak and fire dance- This interesting and old ritual dance is not accompanied by any orchestra but by a choir of more than 60 people. The dancers are in a state of trance and communicate with deities and ancestors. A portion of the epic Ramayana is included into this and is played daily at Uluwatu temple during sunset. Make sure to reach early to grab the best spot to view this dance.

Barong and Keris dance- This is a play which enacts the the eternal fight between the good spirit (Barong- a mythological animal) and the evil spirit (Rangda- a mythological monster). Jambe Budaya in Batubulan is the best place to enjoy this wonderful play.

Celuk- Celuk is well known for its silver wares and visitors can enjoy guided tours and are briefed about the creations. They also have a huge display of various silver wares to choose from to add to the list of souvenirs. 

Mas- This tiny town is known for its wood works where one can visit the carving workshops and see the artists in action along with the numerous wood work displays.

Nasi Goreng- This fried rice is the most popular dish, not just in Bali, but across Indonesia and is a must try. Along with rice, it also has eggs, chicken and prawns. Delicious and filling, it is not without a reason that it is known as the national dish of Indonesia.

Kopi Luwak- This is supposedly the world's most expensive coffee and is made from the droppings of wild civet cats, who hog on coffee berries. They are available at most cafe shops and is well recommended.

Bintang beer- This is the most widely available and most popular beer across Bali. Interestingly, this lager beer is easily available on Kuta beach, despite the beach being devoid of shacks.

You can read more about Bali here-

November 6, 2014

The Photographer's Pose...!!

I find it quite amusing, but isn't this half squat pose quite popular among East Asian tourists?


Ellora Caves, Maharashtra. October 2013.

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