The legend of Mount Agung - the volcano that closed down Bali

When someone says Bali, you will instantly see white sand beaches, laid back backpackers, tanned tourists and locals mingling, fresh produce and tasty cocktails, but paradise comes with a footnote.

Sunset from mount Rinjani, wtih a view of mount Agung volcano

Mount Agung, or Gunung Agung, guards over the island of Bali, Indonesia like a sleeping giant. Standing at 3,031 m (9,944 ft) it's the highest point on the island, and it has a strong influence on the weather patterns, especially rainfall.As it turns out, the sleeping giant has recently awakened and a pre-eruption closed the main airport on the island prompting evacuations and stranding visitors. Now scientists consider its eruption imminent and potentially colossal. During its last eruption, lasting intermittently from 1963 to 1964, the lava flows devastated numerous regions and killed between 1110 and 1500 people. It is still considered the largest eruption in Indonesian history. Experts say global atmospheric temperatures dropped by 0.1-0.4 degrees Celsius in the time after it happened.

Airplane view over Mount Agung vulcano Bali Indonesia with cloud

Although a volcanic eruption of this magnitude wreaks havoc with peoples' lives the volcanic ash that results will turn into one of the most fertile soils on Earth.Tephra, the scientific name for volcanic ash, contains a high density of minerals and nutrients, which, in contact with the weather elements, will release in time. Both destructive and nourishing in the same time.The main religion on the island of Bali is Hinduism and Mount Agung is considered sacred and the home of the Gods. Although Besakih temple, the main temple of the island, is situated only a few kilometers away from the crater and is a no-go zone since September, the Bali governor was seen praying there together with the Balinese in October.

Legend has it that there was no island of Bali before the Gods came and created the Mountain. The Mountain is holding the land together and is the center of all things sacred. The Balinese orient themselves by the position of the mountain.

Mount Agung on Bali Island, Indonesia

As found in ancient Balinese Hindu texts, every 100 years, a ceremony called Eka Dasa Rudra, a cleansing ritual, must be performed by the Hindu. This purifying ritual would keep our world clean and safe and would prevent the gods from angering. The last ritual of this type was supposed to be performed around February 1963, right around the time when the last eruption of Mount Agung was starting. Due to political circumstances the priests, who advised against the ceremony being held because they believed the Gods had been angered and the moment is not auspicious, were forced into complying.In March, the same year, the volcano erupted and most of west Bali was covered in lava and pyroclastic material.To the surprise of many, Besakih temple, situated on the eastern side of Agung, was hardly touched and it survived the devastation standing like a beacon of hope in the storm.

Pura Besakih is a temple complex in the village of Besakih on the slopes of Mount Agung in eastern Bali, Indonesia

With the highest possible alert level issued by the authorities will the Gods bestow their wrath or their good will on the paradise island of Bali?If you are caught in the evacuation procedures please stay safe and follow the authorities guidelines.

Photo credits: Bjulien03, Mathiasrhode, Rsusanto, Jaturun Phuengphuttharak.

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Gguussddee5

Im Balinese, thanks for share about Agung Mount and The mother Temple Besakih

Jonkio4

thanks for sharing :)

Ctmphotog

Interesting article and excellent images!

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