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Besakih  

D. J. Stuart-Fox

Balinese Hindu temple (pura) complex. It is situated on the southwestern flank of the volcano Gunung Agung, Bali’s highest mountain, in the northeast of the island. Associated probably since prehistoric times with the Lord of the Mountain, now identified with the Hindu god Shiva, it has been a dynastic temple of several royal families since at least the 15th century. The complex consists of twenty-two temples, spread along three parallel ridges over a distance of more than a kilometer. The complex was not planned as an entity but seems to have been constructed piecemeal, and the overall structure that links the temples is more ritual and symbolic than physical. The annual cycle of more than seventy rituals culminates in the enormous centennial Ekadasa Rudra ceremony.

The symbolic and ritual center of the complex is Pura Penataran Agung, the largest temple, which over the centuries has undergone numerous changes. Its fifty-seven separate structures are arranged on six terraces. Originating probably in a simple prehistoric sanctuary, it has a terraced form suggesting a series of successive enlargements. The earliest structures were probably simple shrines and stone seats, represented now in developed form by the two uppermost shrines dedicated to the Lord of the Mountain. On current evidence, the pagoda-like shrines (...