One of my fave class here in Tsukuba Univ is 文化的景観論/ Cultural Landscape Theory. One time, the teacher asked us to make a fiction story about the cultural landscape which impressed us a lot. On the fiction story we have to make a heroin/hero who was born on that cultural landscape, story about the place itself, the content of the lecture and should combine it into one interesting story. So here it is, my fiction story about one place which impressed me within the fraction of a second.
From the rooftop he clearly see the surrounding skyscrapers fulfill the Manhattan city , hundred rooftops, hear the hustle bustle from the street, and start wondering to escape from the city. He sat together on the rooftop with his best friend whose a monkey named “Gek”. Both of them doing a light conversation while the sun is descending into the landscape. The guy look at the forest of building in Manhattan while wondering about the next destination for his wanderlust desire. He want to see more nature, local tradition, experience the sacred experience and smell the incense ‘s fragrance. The monkey “Gek” suddenly starts talking to the guy and mention about an incredible cultural landscape that is located in the island of Gods.
Guy : “Hey Gek, you gave me goosebumps! The Island of Gods? What does that mean and where is it?”
Gek (monkey) : “Yea, let’s go to my hometown. It’s been like a decade and I think I miss my hometown. I am from Gianyar, Bali and Bali island is called the Island of Gods because we have more than thousand Puras (Temples). We do many tradition and custom up until now, not as a
mandate but as our goal of happiness life.”
Guy : “Gek, you know I haven’t bought a ticket but I am already excited now. So what place that you said it’s an important and incredible place for you? Please describe it detail! Oh Gek, you’re making me curious!”
Gek (monkey) : It’s a place where I spent my childhood, experience beautiful memories, receive bunch of delicious fruits, yes it Pakerisan Valley or Valley of The King. On the valley there are many important things for us Balinese people or even for monkey like me.”
Guy : “Valley of the king, well there must be King living there and what are the important things for Balinese you mentioned?”
Gek (monkey) : “In this valley, you could find a sacred pakerisan river runs in the middle of
archaeological site of 10 rock-cut Hindu temple carved into the cliff . In Bali, the river which runs through the temple is considered as sacred and it will be function as a water source for subak /irrigation system in the rice field. We call it important because this valley has complete component to apply our life philosophy Tri Hita Kirana.” By the way it’s getting dark here in rooftop, do you want to continue inside the house?
Guy : Oh my God, it sound interesting and Gek, you sounds like my teacher! Hehe. So what is Tri Hita Karana and please describe in detail about the valley. I imagine it has river, rice field and temple. But I can’t imagine how it is connected to each other? Emmmm.
And I like here in rooftop, if refreshing, we can feel the fresh air and see the clear sky! So I don’t want to continue inside the house!”
Gek (monkey) : “ Oh why so many questions? Well, Tri Hita Kirana mean the happiness is a harmony relationship from human with human, human with nature and human with God. If it’s completed then we reach our life happiness. In the Pakerisan valley, there’s sacred river which is cultivated by human to do the paddy field work with subak system. So subak system is using water which flow from the sacred temple to irrigate the rice field. And in the subak system, people from some Temple community should work together to discuss about the water system and do the festival for the rice field. So it means, in the valley there are harmony relationship of human, nature and Gods. Oh ya, this valley also has unique temple/Pura which is different to the rest of the temples all over Bali.”
Guy : “Wow, in my whole life, I have never heard about this tradition systems which connect the life philosophy with rice field system. And what makes it different to other temples in Bali?”
Gek (monkey) : “The Temple in this valley called Gunung Kawi which mean “carved mountain”. So there are 10 temples on the cliff and it was built in the era of Udayana Kingdom. The temple is carved directly into cliff and there’s one big area has some chamber to do the meditation. It is said this place is for Buddhist monk to pray. So beside it’s unique archaeological side, this place also allow other religion to come in. The carved rock-cliff temple are separated by the river, so If you come there you need to cross by walking through the bridge to reach the other part of the temple.”
Gek (monkey) :”It will be better if we came there and see it directly! Oh I feel sleepy now, you have so many questions…”
Guy : “We will go there soon, but reply this answer first and later you can sleep, ok? Please?”
Gek (monkey) : Hahaha, I am just kidding. Of course I am happy to tell you about my home. When you enter the Pakerisan valley, you need to go down to the valley through hundreds of stairs. During walking through this stairs, you will be surrounded with the terraced rice fields and forests. After you reach the stone gate, you need to sprinkle a holy water to your head because you need holy water to visit sacred place in Bali. Also, usually Balinese will visit sacred with traditional clothes and tourist can enter with additional cloth called sarung. So you can wear the sarung for your outer outfit.
After the entrance stone gate, you walk to the left side and you will see the carved rock-cliff Hindu temple. On the opposite area, there’s a sacred pakerisan river. You need to cross the bridge to see the other carved rock-cliff temple. The other side has bigger size with small water mountain from the sacred river. Beside this huge temple, there’s an area with filled of stone chamber which is also a place for Buddhist to pray and do meditation. Behind ths temple there’s huge forest and it is a place where I spend my life before. I often play in this Pakerisan area and drink the water from the sacred river. It’s really fresh.”
Gek (monkey) : “Yes, I love the scenic beauty in my hometown but maybe I look like you. You have beautiful hometown with such beautiful sophisticated buildings but you want to travel to other place. Maybe because during my day in Bali, I often see the local traditions so sometime I feel overwhelmed and want to experience other things. But I think someday I’ll come back to Bali.”
Guy : “Oh Gek, I don’t know how to describe what I feel now . Surely the word is “Wonder”. Thank you Gek for the story. I can’t wait to explore your hometown.”
Gek is a short word for jegeg which mean Miss, ms. or beautiful girl. Some Balinese woman usually call gek to their friends or sisters. The monkey can explain well about Tri Hita Kirana because it represent Balinese who know well about this life philosophy. It is really important for all Balinese and it affects to the subak system, cultural landscape in Bali and their daily life.
The monkey also represents Balinese who live abroad to widen their experiences, specific skill and they usually come back after they pursue their dream abroad. Some Balinese study and live abroad to find more experiences, but they believe that they have merajan/family temple and they need to come back after doing life journey abroad.
Comments are welcomed!
Photo credit : fani atmanti
*special thanks to my best friend Arik for the useful info about Balinese life and culture