Rice for Life
Did you know? Indonesia is the third largest producer of rice in the world. Not only is this Tevital grain the main crop in the country and a fundamental food source, but its significance is deeply rooted in Indonesian culture.
Amid the emerald green rice paddies in Bali, you will likely see shrines to Dewi Sri, the Goddess of Rice and Fertility, and official protector of rice. Offerings are made at crucial periods: planting, full moon, when the rice is a month old, when the grains first appear, and just before harvesting. Balinese rice farmers believe that Dewi Sri is responsible for the thriving crops, thereby protecting their livelihood, prosperity, and health.
While the largest rice cultivation takes place in Sumatra, Sulawesi, and Java, it is Bali’s rice terraces that are considered to be among the most beautiful. Along with its majestic temples, Bali’s rice fields are must-sees. Fringed by jungle with swaying palms and wild banana trees, Bali’s central highlands boast quite a few. Here are two of the most famous, each rather different in character.
Jatiluwih Rice Terraces are part of the Subal Landscape of Catur Angga Batukaru, one of the five regions in Bali designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Possessing a grandeur likened to that of the Grand Canyon and Taj Mahal, Jatiluwih offers an authentic Balinese experience. Walk or bicycle its peaceful, scenic trails for the best perspectives. Pass raffia huts, temples, and farmers tilling the fields with their water buffalo in tow; listen to music from the locals in the distance. Jatiluwih is in the Tabanan regency, an area with palm-lined beaches and verdant slopes.
By far Bali’s most visited rice terraces are Tegalalang in Ubud. More touristed than its counterparts, it’s best to enjoy this beauty in the early morning or late afternoon. Strap into one of the giant swings that carry you over the valley for spectacular views, amazing photos, and a heady rush. Peruse the shops, cafés and markets. Delve further into the fields for mesmerizing vistas and fewer crowds. You will witness the water-filled terraces in gradient shades of green. Climb the steps to the top if you can – a challenge to the very young or old, but worth it if you’re able.