Penglipuran, My Favorite Village in Bali

Bali is not only well-known for its beautiful nature and panoramic. In addition, the island is also famous as a place where the culture and local wisdoms still apply. Since the 9th century, Balinese community had known village’s government system in traditional village, or in local language called as ‘desa pakraman’. A village in Bali was given an autonomy to decide its own rules. The government of village is determined democratically and autonomically in certain period. The leader of village is called ‘Kelihan Adat’ or ‘Bendesa Adat’. In conducting their duties, Kelihan Adat is assisted by some subordinates, such as: secretary, treasury and  disseminator. Beside the government system directly governed by Government of Indonesia, desa pakraman assists its community to solve the issues related to custom and tradition, religion, social and culture in each village.

Until today, there are still many traditional villages spread across the island. I was lucky, when I lived in Bali for short period, I had lived in one of them. Even though I still could feel the sense of traditional rules applied in the place where I stayed in, but modernization had influenced in many places. Nonetheless, I managed to visit one of the best traditional villages in Bali, Desa Penglipuran or Penglipuran village. It is among the oldest villages in Bali which had had its existence since the 18th century, under the rule of Kingdom of Bangli. Its name was derived from the words ‘pengeling‘ or ‘eling‘ which means “remember”, and ‘pura‘ which means “the ancestral land”. Later on, it defines that the residents keep the land of their ancestors in mind.

To get there, I rented a car from my house in Jimbaran. Penglipuran village is located in Bangli regency, located around 5 kilometers from Bangli city or 45 kilometers from Denpasar. The village still maintains the culture and traditions with principles of Tri Hita Kirana. Additionally, it has its own rule and punishment for the thefts. Those found guilty are obliged to present five chickens as offerings to ancestral temples. This punishment is purposed to embarrass the perpetrators. The total of village’s area reaches 112 hectares, now is a home to 234 families. Admission is required, which is cost Rp. 15,000.00 for local tourists and Rp. 30,000.00 for foreigner. The fee will go to regency and village administration.

Desa Penglipuran, Bali, Indonesia

Desa Penglipuran, Bali, Indonesia

Desa Penglipuran, Bali, Indonesia

It did not take long time, I fell in love with the village and it became my favorite village as soon as I arrived there. Once I entered the village’s gate, where the free gas emission applied, I was impressed by the clean and tidy houses. I had no wonder since Penglipuran was declared as one of the cleanest villages in 2016, as written by by SEAsia. Moreover, back to 1995, the village also received Kalpataru Award from Government of Indonesia for its environmental and sustainability by raising and maintaining 75 hectares of bamboo forest. This forest is also functioned to assist the preference of traditional spatial layout and buildings based on ancestral designs.

The village gate, Desa Penglipuran, Bali.

Bamboo forest

Walking through the old-Hindu angkul-angkul entrance, I felt like stepping through a portal to the other world. It is another version of Indonesia, where the plastic is rare and all wastes are in their place. The village even has designated smoking areas. Vehicles are not allowed to enter. Special place is provided as the parking lot out of the gate. The village consists of 76 equally divided plots where each plot faces the main road. The main road is covered by the stone with truly cut grass on its side. Penglipuran is prominent for its consistent and harmonious architecture, from the roof to the floor design. Most of houses are built from brick, nonetheless, some are made from wood and bamboo.

Desa Penglipuran, Bali, Indonesia

One of the house’s gates

A temple in Desa Penglipuran, Bali

A woman is going to the temple with her offerings on her head, in Desa Penglipuran, Bali.

Desa Penglipuran, Bali, Indonesia

A woman is going to the temple with her offerings on her head, in Desa Penglipuran, Bali.

A mom and daughter are going to the temple with thier offerings on her head, in Desa Penglipuran, Bali.

One of offerings at the temple

Some dogs in Desa Penglipuran, Bali, Indonesia

A dog in Desa Penglipuran, Bali, Indonesia

Desa Penglipuran, Bali, Indonesia

Harmonious architecture

All plants are arranged in harmony in Desa Penglipuran, Bali

Souvenirs in Desa Penglipuran, Bali

Souvenirs in Desa Penglipuran, Bali

Being neat, tidy, clean, beautiful and unique has altered Penglipuran into a major tourist’s destination in Bali. The residents of the village gain economic benefit from tourism. Selling souvenirs, food stalls and serving as a guide had become one source of their incomes. Some houses also offer homestays for the tourists who want to explore and feel the sense the culture for shorter and longer periods. These homestays are designed to imitate Bali’s atmosphere as a whole. According to some guests I met along the way, the hosts are hospitable and friendly, so the guests feel like they are part of the family instead of guests. Living in the village and interacting with the locals will be an authentic experience which could not be compared to living in luxurious hotels.

This story is my contribution for Lens-Artists Challenge.