Mount Agung plays a central role in the spiritual life of the Balinese. They believe that Mount Agung is the place where the great god Siwa resides and therefore the mountain represents eternal holiness. All Balinese temples and shrines face the mountain. Pura Besakih, the mother temple, the biggest and most important religious rituals of Balinese Hinduism, is located on the slopes of Mount Agung.
Over the past 2000 years, Mount Agung has erupted 5 times. The first eruption, known as Rudhira Bumi, took place in 92 AD. This was the mount’s most momentous eruption yet. An earthquake occurred as a result and it rained heavily non-stop for two months. It was during this eruption that Hyang Putra Jaya, an incarnation of Siva, descended to Earth to reside on the summit of Mount Agung. The third eruptionoccurred in 148 AD, and the fourth one, known as Wak Sasih Wak, took place in 189 AD. The last recorded eruption was in 1963. In this eruption 1,600 people were killed and around 75,000 people wounded, as hot lava flowed from the mountain. The whole island was covered in ash and crops were wiped out. Fortunately, Besakih Temple just six kilometers from the crater suffered little damage.
For nature lovers, Mount Agung is a very attractive and challenging climb. However, according toHinduism, there are some requirements to ensure your safety before climbing the mount. Some of the requirements are that climbers have to pray before the temple and climbers are not allowed to bring beef of any kind. This particular prohibition is based on the Hinduism belief that cows, being the animal that Siva rode, are sacred animals. In addition to these restrictions, things considered “unclean” by Hindu standards are also forbidden to climb the mount, which anyone who has had a family member die within the past month and seven days or menstruating women.
Climbing the summit of Mount Agung can be started from three locations; the South, Southeast, and Northwest, which passes the Besakih Temple. Climbing the route through the Besakih Temple takes 8 hours. After passing the forest, climbers will walk through a steep rocky area. On the way to the peak, climbers will see various flora and fauna such as Edelweiss, pines, accacias, casuarinas, monkeys, wild chickens and even wild boars.
From the peak of the mount, climbers can enjoy spectacular view down to the villages and other mountains on Bali, and even the peak of Mount Rinjani on the island of Lombok.