The small Indonesian island of Bali is dominated by a series of towering volcanoes that are the focus of life on the island.
The tallest is Mount Agung standing 3,031 metres high, also known as ‘Mother Temple’, and is the holiest site in Bali.
Mount Agung appears to be perfectly conical, the shape of a typical strato-volcano, though it has a huge crater at its top which occasionally spews smoke and ash.
According to Balinese-Hindu myth, Mount Agung was created by the gods to stabilise the wobbling island of Bali.
In every temple on the island there is a shrine to the holy mountain, and the most sacred temple in Bali, Pura Besakih, lies on the slopes of Mount Agung itself.
Like many of Indonesia’s volcanoes, Mount Agung is still active; it last erupted in 1963 after being dormant for 120 years in a
violent outburst that left 1,600 dead and tens of thousands homeless.
In spite of being located in the path of the deadly lava flows that thundered down the mountain’s slopes, Pura Besakih was spared from destruction, said by the Balinese to have been protected by the gods.
Numerous eruptions over thousands of years have left Bali with extremely fertile soil, as volcanic ash with high nutrient content has settled across the island.
The volcanic soil coupled with high levels of rainfall means that Bali is lush and green all year round, with thick forests and mangroves covering the mountains’ lower elevations.
The people of Bali have taken advantage of the fruitful soil and have planted rice paddies in distinctive terraced fields carved out of the island’s hills and mountains.
The cultivation of rice has contributed greatly in changing the natural landscape of Bali, which is now dominated by a bright green patchwork of fields that is vital to the economy of the island.