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Puncak Mangu Temple

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abea00d7-ca21-43c9-ac43-b1c47d48052cPuncak Mangu Temple is located on the rim of the caldera above Lake Bratan. What the temple on top of Gunung Abang is to the people of the Gunung Batur region, this temple is to the people of Bedugul. Though it’s one of the sacred sad-kahyangan temples of Bali, it’s difficult to access and little known.

If you’re in reasonably good shape, the six-km hike along the northeastern edge of Lake Bratan requires about 2.25 hours of hard climbing through a canopied rainforest. Bring water. Ask at the ranger station about a guide-you’ll need one, especially if you intend to take the steep and arduous path down to the lakeshore.

imagesReach the trailhead by turning right off the main road at the Y before Bedugul. The well-marked path starts by the ranger guardpost just as the small road turns left 180 degrees to Bedugul’s lakeshore recreation complex. Register at the guardpost, then walk past the trash pile.

The first segment of the trail is gradual, winding through bean and cabbage patches, then it climbs through a dank lantana and pandanus forest with glimpses of the lake down below. You really start to climb as the mist sets in-up one steep hill, then a saddle before an even steeper section where you must pull yourself up by the roots of trees up through a slippery, muddy slope. The last 500 meters is pure torture.

At the top is a flat shady area, inhabited by gray monkeys. Gaps in the dense forest provide stupendous views of Gunung Batur and Gunung Abang to the east and the mountains of west Bali to the west. Ancient Pura Puncak Mangu, built by Mengwi’s first raja, is a simple, peaceful temple with a padmasana, shrine, a ‘linga’, some nice relief and two ‘meru’. Camping is allowed under the temple’s several bale. Unless a festival is going on, it’s unlikely that anyone will be there.

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On your return, after about one and a half km (45 minutes) there’s a path to the right-marked by plastic bottles-that is very steep, slippery and scrabbly, with loose dirt jungle weeds, scratchy vines, leading straight down for 700 meters to the lakeshore. This trek is impossible in the rainy season. There’s also a path from the back of the temple that leads down the other side of the mountain and emerges on the main road above Pancasari, but you’ll definitely need a guide for this.

From the bottom, walk three km past grazing cows and thriving market gardens of cabbages, carrots, parsley, scallions and potatoes. See Goa Jepang on the way. The path soon turns into a small road which leads to a village on the north shore, your vehicle can meet you here or you can flag down transport on the highway one kilometer farther north



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