Thousands of steps lead down, down, down, through pristine jungle. Along the way, shrines are decorated with fresh offerings, although because we are very early, there is no sign of human life anywhere. We are heading to the holy springs of Sebatu, a little known place that is right off the tourist trail, but well known to religious Balinese.
As we descend further we reach the shrine and the rushing waters that run through the complex of this very holy cleansing temple at Sebatu. Hidden away to the northwest from the other bigger temple complexes, this holy spring seems to be an almost secret place, a place you would never find without a well informed guide or priest to take you there.
Although it was deserted for our early morning visit, apparently, on holy days it teems with pilgrims wanting to be cleansed. They come to perform Melukat – the name of this special cleansing ceremony that refreshes the body, mind, and spirit. On this possibly less than auspicious day we were very lucky to have the whole place to ourselves. Yet auspicious or not, it seemed to be the perfect day for it.
We shed our clothes, don sarongs and head to the clear waters of the holy spring. The water is freezing cold and while my two companions wade in, seemingly oblivious to the cold, I decide it is a much better option to take photos. It is still early morning and the light is sublime. The sun’s rays slant through the nearby forest creating an almost ethereal atmosphere, very holy indeed!
The main part of the complex is the cleansing place where the freezing spring water rushes out, over a huge rock face. Offerings are piled all around and ours just add to the already huge pile. To my total disbelief, they both immerse themselves in the rushing water. I am impressed, if a little bit shocked at their devotion.
After their ablutions, we stay and make prayers, while my companions beam with cleanliness and a refreshed spirit, which is beautiful to see. My inner being feels good enough and the sound of the rushing water is very meditative, with a huge tranquilising effect that drives every thought from my head, until a kind of peace is achieved, even without the total immersion.
We sit quietly while another group comes, this time complete with their own priest. As there is no priest in attendance, larger groups bring their own, to give blessings and add to the holy experience. It is a serene and happy place which everyone seems to enjoy.
It is time for us to go, and we take a new path, that leads through the jungle and up to a pleasing restaurant complex that looks out over this secluded valley. It is a place to enjoy breakfast with a new fresh spirit.