Information before you go
Most of Bali's inhabitants today are descendants from those who fled Java island when Islam was introduced. The Bali Aga people are those who didn't fall under the rule of post-Majapahit kings and their Hindu-Javanese court culture and are therefore seen as the original inhabitants of Bali island.
Their religion comes from the Indra sect in India and unlike the rest of Bali, they are casteless. They have a council of elders ranked by seniority instead of elected representatives.
Bali Aga are built differently then most villages in Bali
There aren't many Bali Aga villages on the island and those which are still existing today are tucked away in forests, mountains or on scenic locations in East Bali, especially on the stretch between the coconut village of Candi Dasa and the capital of the Karangasem Regency, Amlapura.
The roads in most Aga villages run in a straight line from mountain to the sea while the small alleys run from east to west. Within one village there might be several banjar operational.
In the centre of every Aga village you'll find a big open building which is called the 'bale agung'. This building is sacred and the council of the village comes here to talk about the most important affairs.
the Bale Agung
You'll also find other pavilions in an Aga village where villagers come together to perform certain rituals such as the Rejang Dance or playing the Gamelan Gambang.
The Rejang Dance is one of Bali's most sacred dances and is performed only in the inner courtyard of the temple. Its derivative is called the 'penyembrahma' dance and this one is the opening dance for tourists which you can see at the Budaya Arts Center in Denpasar.
Just like their dances their instruments are also sacred to varying degrees. For instance at the village of Asak, southeast of Tenganan, the Gamelan Gambang instrument plays an important role in their rituals and it is composed of four wooden keyed xylophones played with Y-shaped mallets in each hand and there is a pair of seven-keyed bronze xylophones to carry the melody.
Quiet life in Tenganan village
The Bali Aga do not have the same ceremonies as the other Balinese on the island, Nyepi, Galungan, Caka New Year and Ngaben are not part of their rituals. They don't cremate their dead but bring them to the cemetery after the sun has reached its highest point. Here they undress the dead and bury the corpse facing the sun.
The Aga at Trunyan don't cremate their dead, nor bury their dead. They bring them to a special spot outside the village, place them in bamboo cages and leave them to the elements.
If you like to have a look at the structure of Bali Aga villages you can go to Taro (famous for their albino cattle), Bug Bug, Bebandem, Asak, Bungaya, Timbrah, Penglipuran (famous for their bamboo skills), Tenganan (famous for their double weaved dyed ikat cloths) or Batur (famous for their directional temple and volcanic lake).
The Batur Crater is definitely worth a visit. Not only does the volcano provide stunning views, but on a clear day the colors of the lake are amazing.Read more
Tirta Gangga is probably one of the most refreshing and unique sights. In the past these pools were for royalty only but today you can take a dip too.Read more
Mount Agung and Mount Batur are probably the most popular hiking trails in Bali. But there are many more taking you to waterfalls, through rice fields and villages.Read more
Now and then people send us inspiring emails and this generates even more enthusiasm to share all of the things we know about this lovely island in the hope that you can plan your tropical holiday properly and have as such a great time as we always have. Hope to see you there!
When I wrote the mail I never really expected a reply. I might have expected a computer generated but never a personally written one. The information you provided is invaluable, thank you so very much. I have been using your website as a bible through Bali. Through your recommendation, I will be heading to Ubud then follow the sightseeing route to the coast of Candidasa.
WOW...what an awesome website. I could only dream that there would be a website like this for all our travel destinations! You guys have done an fabulous job and now, I am sooo excited about our upcoming trip to Bali. To be honest, I wasn't quite sure Bali was the place for us considering some of the travel warnings (we are Americans). But I can tell from your experiences that the Bali people are so very kind and peaceful.
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