Pura Ulun Danu Bratan

As you travel on the main road from southern Bali to the north shore, the road rises gently though rice terraces and cocoa plantations. Before you know it, you're passing through Bedugul, with its vistas of the entire southern coast, and then up over the walls of an ancient crater. A short descent brings you to the village of Candi Kuching on the shores of Lake Bratan, one of three lakes that have formed in the crater. On the shores of this lake is the Pura Ulun Danu Bratan temple, one of those "postcard" temples that feature on old travel posters and guidebooks.

A procession carrying the gods out of the temple A procession carrying the gods out of the temple

The temple was built in the 17th century and is dedicated to the goddess of the lake, Dewi Danu. Unusually, the temple is designed and used by both Hindus and Buddhists. Although you can't enter the inner courtyard of the temple, you can view its two most distinctive features - a pair of small islets with shrines on them. The larger island sports an 11 tiered meru dedicated to Vishnu while the smaller islet has a three-tiered meru for Shiva. The shrines are generally not accessible.

There's an admission fee of 5,000 Rupiah (0.30 USD) to enter the temple area and get access to the lake shore closest to the islets.

Another view of the two islands with their shrines View of the two islands with their shrines

Close by in Candi Kuching is a fresh market selling many cool weather fruits and vegetables, such as strawberries. The market has become somewhat tourist-oriented, but is still worth a look. Somewhat behind the market, and the rest of the village, is the large Eka Karya Botanic Gardens, featuring orchids and herbs used in traditional medicines. Just north of the lake is the Bali Handara Kosaido Country Club, a world class golf course, and perhaps the only one inside a volcanic crater.