Diversity in Singaraja

This month I had a chance to visit Bali for Asia Heritage Network symposium and visit my IKYEP bestfriend’s hometown in Singaraja.

I remember when I joined IKYEP on 2012, I heard many stories about Singaraja from my friend. It is said that the city is peaceful and has tons of beautiful natural sources such as waterfall, mountain, lake and ocean. Also, during the IKYEP program, my friend Arik asked me to use my free room to pray. It’s quite unique that she pray in a mix religion (Hindu and Buddhist). I just knew that there’re many religions in Singaraja and they respect each other.


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P1200855During my visit in Singaraja I visited some Pura/ Hindus Temple, Buddhist temple, and Vihara near Singaraja harbour for Daoist and Confucianist. I met also some local Christians visit Vihara in Banjar for travel and walk around. More surprisingly, I got a explanation about Balinese canang/flowers for offering and Hindu praying culture from local Moslem people.

P1200829 P1200903One time I came together with friends to Pura Jagadnatha. We use Bali traditional clothes since we’ll visit sacred place. My friend bought some canang for us and incenses. I wonder why incense is the main tool for praying. When I drive a motorcycle to travel around Singaraja, I can smell the good fragrance from incense everywhere. The incense gives a good smell of the city and I wonder why it’s used for the most important tools for praying. My friend said when incense is burnt, the smoke is going up to the air which means that the messages will be brought to the air and finally will reach to the Sang Hyang Widhi/God.

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P1200796 P1200800I remember when I was in university, there’s a class about the important of human senses in an architecture environment.

Sight, hearing, smelling, taste and touch are the sensory modalities that play a dominating role in spatial perception in human. With the interaction between human and environment in the architectural experience, one will eventually gain some memories in every places they have visited. In other words, when the architectural experience becomes multi-sensory, all the senses are equally experiencing the quality of the space, which will strengthen the existential experience. (Juhani Pallasmaa,27)

To design a great space and city, the designer should consider these senses as part of their masterplan. I think in Singaraja city, I could see the balance combination between building and nature, also I smell a good fragrance of incense everywhere. The good smell will later reminds me of Singaraja and I love how this city touches me with its visual aesthetic and incense fragrance.


And last, how do I explain about the important of tasting sensory for Singaraja city?

“Certain colors and delicate details evoke oral sensation. A delicately colored, polished stone surface is subliminally sensed by the tounge.” (Pallasmaa,J.69)

So the taste in architecture does not literally mean to kneel down and try to eat the stone bricks, but it means that architecture can make our mouth water just by the sight of appealing materials.

One interesting thing is the conversation with Arik’s father. He told us that previously he did a research about conflict in the community of Bali Aga and Bali Majapahit. He said that Bali Aga is the indigenous people of Bali who usually stay in Eastern part of Bali (Karangasem), North-West and also Central regions.

Then Bali Majapahit is the Balinese who use caste system such as shudras, wesias, ksatrias, and Brahmins. While Bali Aga people don’t have caste system in their social organization.

He also recommend me to visit Pura Negara Gambur Anglayang which is located in Kubutambahan Village, Buleleng. He said that this Pura/ temple is the most unique temple in Bali because there’re many statue with various religions. The temple has 8 pelinggih / worship shrines which have different faith followers. It represents the unity in diversity in Indonesia. I think the temple is a genuine example of religious tolerance in Bali which also show the unity in diversity.

Unfortunately I didn’t manage to visit the temple! I wish someday I could come back to Singaraja and visit this place!

Well, that’s all my story about Singaraja. I think Singaraja may stand as a model of Bali or Indonesia, maintaining diverse traditions without creating barriers.

If you had experiences about Singaraja, please feel free to share your story here.

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