Penglipuran - valuing the ancestors' wisdom, sustaining the tradition for a better future

Bali is popularly known for many things: bikini-clad girls in pristine white sand beaches, a vibrant and pulsating nightlife, extraordinary cuisine, and a plethora of sightseeing options that create unique energy and a destination that has visitors wanting more. However, with a distance of only 45km from Denpasar, the capital of Bali, about an hour's drive north we will arrive at a village that is able to distort our understanding of Bali. Penglipuran the name of the settlement, we were treated to a different experience, for a moment our feet stepped into the gate of this traditional village. Tranquility, cleanliness, peace, spiritual impression from the nuances of Bali in the past century seemed to be rebuilt in the present. Past experiences that are so authentic presented today. 

A living museum of old Balinese culture, called Penglipuran Village.

Immediately after stepping into the village complex which is at an altitude of 700 meters above sea level, and this area of 112 hectares we will be welcomed with a refreshing, comfortable, typical highland air blends with green, colorful, ornate foliage along the village road, inviting every visitor to go deeper into enjoying the inch by inch of the village with a population of 985 people. We will witness a row of unique Balinese traditional houses with uniform spatial arrangements. Along the village corridors that stretch from north to south are only used for pedestrians, no motorized vehicles are allowed to operate in this village. The right and left side of the road leads to the top there is a row of houses with the shape of the building and the materials used are the same as one another. The entire house building faces east. The central access to the yard in each house is a small gate with a bamboo roof structure. 

All houses are equipped with village structure attributes such as "angkul-angkul" (typical Bentar temple), and uniform trenches, as well as bamboo roofs for all village buildings. This conditions, follow Tri Hita Karana's classical Balinese spatial philosophy. That is replicating the concept of a human body that has a head, body, and legs. The head (the top) is referred to as "parahyangan" which means having a relationship with God. The body (the middle part) called "pawongan" is defined as the relationship between humans, while the foot (the bottom) is called "palemahan" which depict the relationship with the biosphere. Relations with the biosphere can be perceived that humans should not arbitrarily exploit the biosphere, without thinking about its preservation. That living humans cannot be alone, but as social beings should maintain relationships with other humans. Likewise, with the relationship with God, humans must maintain a balance between world affairs and the afterlife.

The village with an area of 112 hectares is divided into 12 hectares of settlements and public facilities, 55 hectares of moorland, and also has 45 hectares of sacred conservation bamboo forest to walk through and feast eyes. In the center, we will find four modest, yet beautiful temples where people pray and pay their respects. This bamboo forest surrounds the entire village where there is a path used for Penglipuran Village Trekking Ecotour and Penglipuran Rural Cycling Ecotour. Also, this bamboo trees serves as a road shade used by tourist activities. Coupled with fresh air, making this village very comfortable for sports. Bamboo from this forest is utilized for the roof and walls of the Penglipuran community. Apart from that, there is also the Penataran Temple functioned as a means of public worship, and “Karang Memadu is a particular land area of 921m2, separated by a high wall with narrow road access to the location, which functioned as a form of social sanctions for people who practice polygamy.

Since its founding in the 18th century until now, the yard of the residents’ house consists of 76 courtyards that are arranged neatly with the same size within one and the other. Of the total, 50 residences participate directly in the provision of tourism facilities, both in the form of homestays (IDR 250,000-500,000 / per night), warungs which provide various kinds of food and beverages and souvenirs. Men and women work together to share roles fairly and evenly in Penglipuran, following the appropriateness of functions and needs. While the assistance and engagement of the local community in maintaining and preserving the cleanliness and comfort of the environment, conserving the culture both physically and non-physically and participation in supporting various tourist attractions and activities are carried out by the entire Penglipuran community. 

As time went by Penglipuran tried to innovate developing alternative tourism activities extended from the local people daily activities including weaving courses, traditional food cooking courses, coffee processing, coconut climbing, cockfighting, trekking, bicycle tours, and watching traditional beverage processing "loloh cemcem." In addition to the already existing tourist attractions such as the traditional dance performances of Panyembrahma, Puspawresti, Bebarongan, Joged, Prembon and Wayang performances. These attractions sold in the form of tour packages or by special requests, whose marketing is carried out independently by the village organization or through a mutual partnership with the tour operators. Additionally, Penglipuran has also implemented organic waste treatment. Garbage such as leaves, grass and household waste is processed as organic fertilizer for agriculture, where the majority of the Penglipuran people are dual occupants, both as farmers and tourism workers.

All tourism activities in Penglipuran are regulated by an official organization owned by locals, by locals and for locals benefits. This formation of the organization is the result of the melting of a conscious tourism group consisting of members of Penglipuran Village existed previously. The role of this organization is to gather ideas from the community through village meetings, ranging from planning, managing and regulating everything related to the development of tourism villages.

The management of Penglipuran involves the local community since the beginning on all-tier of workers. As the number of tourists visits reaches 200,000 per year with the ticket sales revenue is Rp4 billion, of which 40% goes to the management where 60% goes to the local government. The funds are used for operational costs, including paying staff on duty, such as front office, ticket seller, security, parking attendants, janitors, and others. Likewise during the construction or improvement of facilities carried out by the local government, such as paving the road in parking areas and physical development of repairing temples, and others wherein the construction prioritize underprivileged workers from residents, with wages above the standard minimum salary of Balinese people.

Based on all these realities, Penglipuran could face at the future more harmoniously. In the midst of the rampant modernity in the tourism world, it turns out that the wisdom and value of ancestral heritage, the old culture of ancestors which is stated in a well-defined vision of the village, and carried out in earnest possible proved particularly relevant in preparing Penglipuran to pursue a more sustainable future.