Some 22 separate temples dot the hillside of Mount Agung in eastern Bali, where the Mother Temple of Besakih has been perched for more than 1,000 years. This complex of Hindu temples is the largest, holiest and most important on the island and miraculously survived the catastrophic volcanic eruption of 1963. Today, it serves as a popular destination for visitors to Bali and as a place of prayer for local Hindu people.
Travelers can wander the stepped terraces and brick gateways of the 23 ancient temples that make up the complex and sit on several parallel ridges, some 3,280 feet (1,000 meters) up the side of this active volcano. The temples dedicated to the three main gods of Hinduism, Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma are surrounded by smaller structures housing temples to lesser gods or shrines to various Balinese castes.
The temple's mountaintop location makes it especially atmospheric early in the morning, before it becomes crowded with tourists and pushy touts. While it’s best to visit Mother Temple of Besakih on an organized tour, it is possible to visit on your own. If you choose to do so, you may be approached by touts telling you that having a guide is mandatory, but this is untrue. Remember to wear long pants or bring a sarong to cover your legs. Entry fees are Rp. 15,000 for adults, while children enter for free.