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Bali and Its Brief History

(Balitrips.net) / 02 Jan 2010
Bali and Its Brief HistoryAlthough Bali is only a small island offering abundance attractions which combines the natural wonders and Balinese dynamic life. The people live in harmony with the nature and uphold honesty instead of falsehood style of living.
Bali is inspiration. Bali as a province within the Indonesian archipelago with its population of 3 million of which a large portion follows the religion of Hindu has given an important value to the uniqueness of cultures in the archipelago.
Throughout the course of its history, Bali has received influences from foreign cultures. This could lead to the decline of its own indigenous culture if the challenge is not faced with a determined mind. Changes in the attitudes of the Balinese towards the environment have been felt by the people who have come to love the island.

History tells that Bali had been the final crystallization of the development and flourishing of Java's ancient Majapahit culture. The harmonious integration between the local traditions of Bali with Javanese Majapahit culture with its Hindu nuances gave birth the Hindu culture in Bali which has a uniqueness for its own. Regarding its position which is in the middle of the range islands stretched out from the east to the west, Bali with its unique culture is often called Nusa nin Nusa or the island amongst a thousand islands. Though Bali now bears the image as the potential investment destination, it is still appealing for a mind enlightenment and inspiring place for everyone.

Buleleng was first regency to be colonized by the Dutch, followed by Badung and Tabanan. Bali was totally conquered after the Klungkung was ousted in the battle of the Puputan Klungkung in 1908. The Puputan Margarana was a violent confrontation, led by Colonial I Gusti Ngurah Rai which could put an end to Dutch rule. The independence of the Republic of Indonesia finally ended the monarchy system in Bali. The province of Bali occupying an area of 563.296 hectare consisting of mountain ranges and highlands which are stretched out from the west to the east. The mountain range and the highlands divide Bali into South and North plains.

The province of Bali was previously divided into 8 regencies of which 7 located in the southern part of Bali and one was in the north. Historically the regional division into 8 regencies followed the pattern of 8 kingdoms before colonial era. In 1980 Denpasar was the capital of Bali province while Badung regency status was improved to be an administrative region and then a town. Finally in 1992, Badung was officially given the status as a municipality, which can be placed at the same level as a regency. Thus since 1992, Bali officially has 9 regency level and a city.

At the end of prehistoric times, Bali has been a destination for the spiritual seekers and travelers. Rsi Markandeya was the first spiritual leader who came from Java to follow his path in Bali. His search for spiritual purity and balance with nature led to the establishment of the center for Balinese Hinduism on the south slope of Mount Agung, which is now called the Pura Agung Besakih. Pura Besukian is believed as the first location established by Rsi Markandeya and his followers to ensure Bali as the destination for building spiritual values.

Following this spiritual life goes in harmony with secular life as Balinese government supported the preservation of spiritual values in the island. It is written in the old literature that the dynasty of Warmadewa was very supporting to the harmonious development of the religious life and local culture and customs, a support that encouraged the coming of spiritual leaders from Java Island. The arrival of Empu Kuturan around the 11th century was to stick the life order of the locals, with those Javanese Hinduism. The order within the traditional village with the concept of the perhyangan as the personification of God in Tri Murti Function, was an effort to integrate local and Hindu concepts.

The Javanese Hindu leaders then led the spiritual search. The integration of the archipelago under Majapahit's supremacy was the peak process of acculturation of local religion and culture and Hindu culture. Bali and its people live through their daily life in line with religious rules and orders as well as unique art and culture. This uniqueness captured the attention of a Dutchman named Cornelis de Houtman who journeyed to Indonesia in search for spices. The fertile land, the farming activities, and the uniqueness of the culture of the people in conducting their daily life became an object of interest for de Houtman's expedition.

If Indonesia were later known for its spices, Bali would be known for its culture. The Dutch colonization over Indonesia from around 17th century to 18th century did not out much influence on the religious and cultural life in Bali. Hinduism in Bali entered its golden era when the kingdom of Bali was centered in Gelgel, and was later moved to Smarapura known as Klungkung. Following the fall of the Klungkung kingdom in the battle of Puputan Klungkung in 1908, Bali since had become a Dutch colony at the of the 20rth century.

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