The Indonesian Bali Province is somewhat a marvel to all that get a chance to visit it. Its cultural landscape comprises of 5 rice terraces and their water temples, covering a 19,500 hectares piece of land. The temples and the cooperative water management systems consisting o canals and weirs date back to the 9th century. Perhaps this is what informed its inscription into the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2012.
Also in this beautiful landscape is the 18th century Royal Water Temple of Pura Taman Ayun. It is the grandest architectural edifice in the whole of the island and thus a significant draw to tourists.
The landscape’s water management system, also known as Subak is a reflection of the philosophy of Tri Hita Karana that brings together the realms of nature, spirit and human world. The philosophy was a culmination of years of cultural exchanges between India and Bali. The philosophy is responsible for shaping Bali in what it is today.
The Subak system encouraged democratic and egalitarian methods of farming that enable the Balinese to become the most prolific rice growers in the archipelago. Not even the dense population in Bali could limit its people to grow enough food.
Bali has a total of 1200 water collection facilities that are managed and utilized by 50 to 400 farmers. These water facilities have helped the farmers here to raise the rice crop without the assistance of pesticides or fertilizers.
Further afield, you will find the forests that act as the water catchment areas. The forests are the source of the water that is used to cultivate the terraces. Note that each temple is of varying size and importance. The temple may signify water passing through on its way downhill to irrigate the rice fields, or, it may signify that the temple is the source of water.
Whatever else you do during your holiday in Indonesia, make sure you get a chance to visit the cultural landscape of Bali. It is this site that you will learn that human innovation can triumph over all the challenges - especially when it comes to being able to feed themselves!
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