Tenganan Village - Karangasem - East Bali


This is an original pre-Hindu Balinese settlement, long a stronghold of native traditions, about halfway between Padangbai and Amlapura (67-km northeast of Denpasar). At the end of an asphalt country road up a narrow valley, Tenganan is far removed from the Javano-Balinese regions of Bali.

Like Trunyan on Lake Batur to the northwest, this small village is inhabited by the Bali Aga, aboriginal Balinese who settled the island long before the influx of immigrants from the decaying 16th-century Majapahit Empire. It might appear to be a stage-managed tourist site but is actually a living, breathing village-the home of farmers, artists, and craftspeople.

Tenganan VillageTenganan Village

The lowland people of Tenganan have preserved their culture and way of life through the conviction they're descended from gods. They practice a religion based on tenets dating from the kingdom of Bedulu, established before the Hindus arrived.

Tenganan origins can be traced back to the holy text Usana Bali, which states they must tend their consecrated land to honor the royal descendants of their creator, Batara Indra. Though Tenganan is today Hindu, it is also unmistakably Polynesian.

Except for such visual blights as the row of green power poles down the center of the village's unique pebbled avenues, Tenganan is a living museum in which people live and work frozen in a 17th-century lifestyle, practicing their own architecture, kinship system, religion, dance, and music. Signs of the 20th century are a public telephone just inside the entrance, TV antennas on bamboo poles piercing the thatch rooftops, the motorcycles parked outside the compounds, and the occasional tinny sound of a cassette recorder or radio.

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