Terunyan in Bali As The Land Of The Dead

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Bali Terunyan Village
Terunyan Village - Image by via Wikimedia Commons [CC BY-SA 2.5] | modified

Getting on boat and crossing the Lake Batur, you will come to Terunyan Village, which is one of the unique places to visit in Bali. While most of the villages in Bali fame for its beautiful scenery, Terunyan Village is different. This village fame for its graveyard.

Apart from the rest of Balinese culture, the people in Terunyan Village treating the dead people in a different way.

They just laying down the dead people on the ground and leave it that way without being buried or cremation. And the unique part is the body does not even have a bad smell although it is not embalmed.

That is why sometimes Terunyan Village also known as the land of the dead.

Bali and The Death

Everyone would agree that Bali is paradise on earth. The island is most known for the beaches and the cultures, and one of them known as Ngaben, a Balinese ceremony ritual where the dead body is cremated.

As we talked earlier, there is one place in Bali that has a different ritual ceremony to treating the death people in which still being sustained until now. With one place name in mind, you may or may not familiar with the place called Terunyan village.

Terunyan Village in Bali

Bali Terunyan Village
Terunyan Village – Image by via Wikimedia Commons [CC BY-SA 2.5] | modified

Knowing Terunyan Village

This one unique village is located at the foot of Mount Abang, somewhere in the isolated and remote on the eastern shore of Lake Batur. The people of Terunyan are often classified as Bali Aga which means Mountain Balinese.

This refers to their way of life which are conservative, ancient and neolithic customs and very exclusive from outside influence.

However, the term Bali Aga is rarely used and the use of Bali Mula, which means the original Balinese, is more commonly used.

The age of the village is believed to be older than the main temple of Terunyan which dated at least the 10th century AD with the finding of copper plate inscriptions in one of the shrines.

People of Terunyan are divided into two castes. These castes are determined by their descent from the Gelgel dynasty period.

The two castes are called Banjar Jero and Banjar Jaba. Banjar Jero is the descendants of the rulers in the Gelgel dynasty while Banjar Jaba is the people who are ruled by the Banjar Jero.

The Dead in Terunyan

Bamboo Cemetry in Terunyan
Bamboo Cemetry in Terunyan – Image by Yusuf IJsseldijk via Wikimedia Commons [CC BY 2.0] | modified

The most breathtaking tradition from this Terunyan village is the way they treat the deceased. Instead of cremating their dead like other Hindu Bali, they have a ritual of cleansing the body with rainwater, then it is placed in a bamboo cage on the ground.

This practice has surely become an attraction to tourists as this is some kind of unique phenomenon.

Inside Bamboo Cage Trunyan
The Dead Body Inside Bamboo Cage – Image by Yusuf IJsseldijk via Wikipedia [CC BY 2.0] | modified

The place can be reached by boat only crossing lake Batur for about 20-30 minutes. By placing a human dead body to decompose in the open air will make you wonder about the bad odors and health concerns.

Apparently, the existence of the Banyan tree is the key. The bodies are put under the banyan or Taru Menyan tree until nature will dissolve the body tissues and what remains are skulls and skeleton.

Taru Menyan or Banyan Tree
Taru Menyan or Banyan Tree – Image by Yusuf IJsseldijk via Wikipedia [CC BY 2.0] | modified

Taru Menyan or “nice smelling tree” will eliminate the bad odors from rotting bodies and even this tree’s name is where the village gets its name, Terunyan. 

In this tradition, the body of married people only can be placed in a bamboo cage. If an unmarried person is dead then the body will be buried in the cemetery.

One more thing that women cannot come to the ceremony called Pengiriman, the ceremony when the body is being placed under the Taru Menyan tree or to the cemetery.

This due to the belief that if it is broken, disasters such as volcanic eruption, earthquake or landslide will strike the Terunyan village.

Visiting Terunyan Village

How to Get There

First, you had to go to Batur lake which could be reached by car or motorbike in approximately 2 – 3 hours. Then you have to cross the lake by boats for 20 – 30 minutes.

Cost and Fees

To visit Terunyan village you have to rent the boat and pay the entrance fee. The cost you have to spend approximately could be seen in the table below.

How Many PersonPrice
Up to 2 Person± IDR 900,000.-
Up to 4 Person± IDR 1,050,000.-
Up to 7 Person± IDR 1,200,000.-

What to Expect

The Line of Skulls
The Line of Skulls – Image by Arfiana Rahma Shanti via Wikimedia Commons [CC BY-SA 4.0] | modified

You could enjoy the scenery while crossing Batur Lake, the biggest lake in Bali. Then you will have a local tour guide which will be explaining about Terunyan village.

Beware if you get scared easily since you will see a lot of bones on the ground, corpses, and the mystical vibes.

Human Skulls in Trunyan Lake Batur Bali
Human Skulls in Trunyan Lake Batur Bali – Image by Yusuf IJsseldijk via Wikimedia Commons [CC BY 2.0] | modified

But you’ll get an amazing and memorable journey by experiencing the unique culture of Terunyan village.

Final Words

Since it is quite expensive to visit Terunyan village, it is up to you to decide whether it will be worthed to come to this village or not.

But if you have the cash, why not give it a try while you are in Bali?

Would You Like To Visit?

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