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The regency of Badung extends in a narrow ribbon from the central uplands in the north of the island to the Nusa Dua Peninsula, also known as Bukit Badung, in the south. The Peninsula is strikingly different from the northern fertile volcanic plain, consisting of a slightly-raised limestone plateau surrounded by sea. Kuta and Jimbaran are to the north and west of the peninsula, Sanur to the east (see article Kotamadya Denpasar), while the famous Nusa Dua resort area is on the eastern tip of the peninsula itself.
The local government became concerned about the "immorality" of the Western hippie communes which developed in Kuta (see below). So it was decided to isolate future tourist resort. The development of Nusa Dua was therefore carefully planned. Today, while Kuta is still synonymous with sun, fun and youth, Nusa Dua-which was developed in the 1980's is home to the five-star resort. Tanjung Benoa, Jimbaran, Sawangan and Batu Pageh (Bali Beach), are the latest additions to the list of attractions Badung has to offer.
The scrub and bushes give Bukit Badung a weird Mediterranean air during the dry season. No rice paddies are to be seen anywhere. The plateau rises up to 200m above sea level, ringed to the south and southwest by cliffs with small beaches. The view over the white sand is best at sunset.
Bukit Badung is famous among surfers for its long, white rollers. The best surfing is at Suluban, Labuhan Sait and Bingi. For hikers, there are paths running along much of the cliff, while the inland region has many prehistoric caves including Gua Selonding.
The tallest statue in the world, the Garuda Wisnu Kencana (145m), is built in an ancient quarry at the highest point on the Bukit. The famous Pura Luhur Uluwatu temple is an achitectural marvel situated on a headland at the western tip of the plateau. According to local tradition, the first Uluwatu temple was built in the 11th century. In the 16th century, it was rebuilt into its current state. The temple has some of the most exquisite architecture in Bali. The carvings made in the unusually hard coral stone have withstood time well. The split entrance gate is shaped as curved Garuda (eagle) wings. Inside, a second gate is topped by the monstrous head of Kala, with two statues of Gana at its foot.
Nusa Dua and nearby Tanjung Benoa are in a world of their own, where the idea of tourism insulated from the Balinese environment has been implemented. Some of the most famous hotels in Asia are to be found here, among them the Hilton, the Hyatt, and Club Med. Their neo Balinese architecture (giant split gates, huge statues and halls) complements the beautiful natural surroundings palm trees, to provide all the ingredients of a tropical paradise.
Nusa Dua differs from the rest of the Bukit Peninsula. In place of cliffs, sandy soil descends to a long white beach stretching from Nusa Dua proper all the way to Tanjung Benoa harbour, five kilometres to the north. The beach at Nusa Dua is sheltered by coral reef, creating an ideal family beach, while Tanjung Benoa specializes in water sports.
The Bukit peninsula is connected to the rest of Bali by a narrow neck of land. Here, the Jimbaran by area has one of the safest and most tranquil white beaches on the whole island. Jimbaran is renowned for the Barong (trance) dance. It also has Pura Ulun Siwi, a beautiful temple made of brick.
To the north of the Bukit peninsula is the popular beach resort of Kuta. Its claim to fame owes much to two things: its beach (originally Bali's best) and the sunset. The beach front is now host to star hotels, except for Legian and Seminyak, where much of the social scene is now centered. The main shops are located along Legian street.
Beach bungalows first opened in Kuta in the 1930's. But mass tourism did not start here until the late 60's when it became known as a hippie haven. Kuta soon boomed. The bamboo beach bungalows were turned into losmen, then into hotels. T-shirt sold on the beach were replaced by a thriving garment and handicraft industry. The hippies either left of struck it rich, and Kuta has become one of the most dynamic places in Indonesia, a place to encounter new ideas and lifestyles and a place to experience all manner of pleasures.
OTHER PLACES OF INTEREST
Another resort to the south of Kuta is Tuban. Originally part of Kuta, it now claims an independent status. To the west of Kuta are the new resorts of Peti Tenget (with its beautiful temple), Canggu and Seseh.
Most of the places of interest in the northern part of Badung regency are on the main roads leading out of Denpasar to the north and west.
Just outside Denpasar, on the road westwards to Tabanan, is the village of Kapal, home to a small earthenware industry. But Kapal is better known for the Pura Sadha temple, with its multi-tiered prasadha shrine. And Pura Puseh temple has some interesting Ramayana reliefs.
Further west is the little town of Mengwi, which has one of the grandest temples of the island, Taman Ayun. Until the end of the last century, Mengwi was one of the main island kingdoms, and this temple was built around 1740. Pura Taman Ayun is a water garden temple, symbolizing the cosmic union of sea and mountain. You can even row in the moat in a rented boat. The architectural structure has three parts, duplicating the order of the cosmos-nista (impure/demonic); madia (middle/human); and utama (godly)-corresponding to the three successive courts. Most sacred (utama) is the inner court. The shrines are made and decorated in the finest traditions of Balinese carving.
To the north of Mengwi is the famous Monkey Forest at Sangeh, set in the heart of the only primary forest in southern Bali. This forest comprises entirely of pala (nutmeg) trees. The monkeys living here are considered sacred, an association from the Ramayana epic, wherein Prince Rama allied himself with the monkey hero Hanoman to attack Alengka. Some of the forest trees are also considered sacred and hence used to make barong. After Sangeh, the road heads northwards to Kintamani past some beautiful scenery near Plaga.
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