Island of the Gods

Explore the dense forests, take a dip in the waterfalls, go beach bumming, dive in the deep blue ocean waters or get enchanted with the ancient temples as you immerse yourself in the surreal beauty that nature has given in abundance to the beautiful Bali.

BY NAMITA GUPTA

It’s very hard not to fall in love with the picture perfect beauty of Bali. My previous trip to Bali when I was much younger, was about indulging in its night life, exploring the many wild pubs and bars and living it up to the fullest. But, this time I saw this stunning island of Indonesia through different eyes, as it handed me gems and marvels at every stretch and I immersed myself in the treasure trove that the bounty of nature has to offer. As I got my visa on arrival stamped for free and emerged out of the Ngurah Rai International Airport, I was welcomed by the sight of the 75-metre tall statue of Garuda atop a hill, overlooking the airport and I promised myself a visit.

Just about 500 metres away from the airport, you’ll spot a celestial scene of Ghatotkacha Karna war at the Patung Satria Ghatotkacha statue, stationed at a busy junction, giving you a stunning visual of the Mahabharata. Bali is filled with references and inspirations from the Ramayana and Mahabharata. Culture is a big thing for the Balinese and the statues and installations all over speak volumes about its dominant Hindu population, representing the religion of the country for the past centuries. It won’t be wrong to say that religion is everywhere in Bali.
After checking in at The Westin Resort Nusa Dua, my home for three nights in Bali, I visited the 120 metres high, second tallest statue in the world, that took over 25 years and around $100 million to build. The enormous copper and brass sculpture of the Hindu God Wisnu astride the mythical bird Garuda called the Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park has newly opened and can be called as the mascot of Bali and is a must-visit. The story goes that Garuda agreed to be ridden by Vishnu in return for the right to use the elixir to liberate his enslaved mother. Garuda mythology is linked to that of Aruna – who runs the chariot of Surya, the Hindu Sun God. It’s a sight to behold and evenings here come alive with the Kecak dancers showcasing a captivating performance. Besides being a form of entertainment and an expression of devotion to the Gods, dance here is a way of carrying on the legacy of instilling cultural values. These vibrant dancers perform the Kecak, a form of Balinese Hindu dance, based on the story of the Ramayana, at the Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park every evening. This lively and engrossing show is traditionally performed in temples and villages across Bali.

Bali is teeming with Instagrammable spots all around. It is an utopia. Next up on my itinerary that I chalked on my own, was a visit to Tanah Lot, meaning Land in the Sea and was built to worship Bhatara Segara or the sea God. This most-photographed temple in Tabanan dating back to the 16th century is best visited at sunset time. If you want to witness some rituals with Balinese women carrying offerings on their head to pray here, then plan a trip during Odalan, which is celebrated every 210 days.

Back after an entire day of sight-seeing entering The Westin Resort Nusa Dua located in an exclusive enclave on Bali’s southern peninsula, overlooking the Indian Ocean, is almost like entering the gateway to heaven. Spread across a sprawling lush green property, it has 433 modern luxury rooms and suites with pool, garden and ocean views, designed with touches of nature and Balinese accents reflecting in its tropical surroundings. There’s never a dull moment at this upbeat resort – there’s plenty of recreational facilties like spacious pools, waterfalls on one side and the beachfront on the other side, where you can get your adrenaline rush by trying some water sports. I rented a bike and cycled my way around the quiet flat roads flanking the seductive beaches in the most spacious and tranquil part of southern Bali.

A rejuvenation sanctuary, the award-winning Heavenly Spa by Westin reinforces the sensory experience of indulgence. Some of its healing and beauty rituals are a must-try, if you’re looking for complete bliss and relaxation. When in Bali, indulging in a spa treatment is a given. The resort is clearly committed towards making families feel at home. No wonder then that it has repeatedly been awarded as the premier resort for family holidays in Bali.

And that’s not it. Dining at The Westin Resort Nusa Dua takes the hospitality metre a few notches higher with its exciting options. Prego is the perfect stop, if it’s authentic Italian fare you’re craving for. From freshly baked bread and pizzas, to home-made pastas cooked in classic lip-smacking sauces, the entire menu is inviting and will leave every gourmand satiated. I was very impressed with my most flavourful Italian meal at Prego. Velada Tapas Bar & Kitchen is where you can sip on some cocktails and tuck in some tapas. Hamabe is their Japanese restaurant famous for its teppanyaki counter. My favourite was the sushi and sashimi counter. Those with refined tastes can also enjoy the robata grills too. Seasonal Tastes, resort’s signature dining venue with live interactive kitchens is where I indulged at the lavish breakfast buffet in a neat market style selection of Western, Asian, Mediterranean and Indian dishes, besides superfoods with nutritious ingredients. Indonesian restaurant named Ikan, on the white sandy beach of Nusa Dua offers a panoramic view of the ocean, where I gorged on fresh seafood, Balinese as well as international cuisine served in a carnival-like atmosphere.

One cannot leave Bali without a customary photograph at one of the many swings. Swing away all your worries as you leisurely sway over an entire forest with cascading waterfalls below. I chose the Bahama Swing and it did not disappoint. There cannot be a better way of experiencing a more unique view of the lush Balinese jungles. Another romantic and picturesque location is the central foothills with its lush green rice fields. Drive to one of the famous attractions in Ubud – the Tegallalang Rice Terraces for endless views of the paddy fields, where you’ll see no other colour but green. This natural paradise where Gods live also boasts of warm and welcoming inhabitants. Yes, the Balinese, who are extremely humble, warm and polite and leave you with a sense of calm.

Some of the other nearby Nusa Dua attractions from The Westin include the Bali Collection Shopping Gallery, Pasifika Museum, Devdan Show at Bali Nusa Dua Theatre and the Peninsula Island. If you have more time to spare, don’t miss a visit to a few more famous temples, that Bali is famous for.