The village of Tenganan undoubtedly belongs to one of the rarest sights in Bali. Unlike the rest of the island, Tenganan is not inhabited by Hindus, but by the Bali Aga, a small part of the population who has kept their pre-Hinduistic faith and traditions. They have no caste system and they also reject other Hindu customs, such as cremation and choose to bury their dead instead. Thus, Tenganan has always been strictly isolated from the outside world and even weddings are only permitted within the village community. Those who don’t adhere to the rule are expelled and it doesn’t come as a surprise, that the population is dwindling and today, only about 500 people live in the town.
The village with its rectangular center and checkered floor plan consists of only two parallel roads and is surrounded by a long boundary wall. The simple houses with their thatched roofs look like Polynesian long houses, mixed in are some shrines and pavilions and roosters, dogs and cows roam the streets. Apart from a couple modern power poles, the architecture remains largely authentic. Since the Bali Aga see themselves as artists and guardians of their religion, they not only have this unique building style, but also practice very distinct dances, cultural expressions and one famous craft: weaving the valuable double ikat fabrics. These textiles as well as typical Balinese maps hand drawn with macadamia ink on bamboo leaves can be purchased in the stalls. Nothing is mass produced and instead, is handmade in long and intricate processes, which of course, comes with a price.
Tenganan is located about 65 kilometers from Denpasar in the Manggis District. It’s easy to get there with either public or private transport via the coastal town Candidasa, which is well served by local busses. Tenganan Village can be found only 4 kilometers inland from Candidasa.