Jatiluwih – Rice Terraces Subak Irrigation System (UNESCO)

Stunning Beauty

Jatiluwih area has always been known as one of the regions in Bali that produces great quality of rice. Still, back in the days, the locals did not realise that they have shaped the nature into such a spectacular way, that would be seen as worth been protected as a UNESCO Heritage Site. So today, Jatiluwih is also one of the attractions in Bai, that are worth a visit for sure.

Jatiluwih is located in the highlands (700 meters above the sea levels), and nearby the second tallest volcano in Bali, Mount Batukaru, The area has hilly contours with fertile soils and offers an incredible scenery. It spans more than 53,000 hectares agriculture fields covered mostly with rice terraces.

Terracing is one of the methods in agriculture management, that is created to make agriculture possible on lands that have a steep contour, such as the highlands and mountain slopes. A complex irrigation and watering system is necessary and crucial. Bali’s SUBAK irrigation system is also sued for Jatiluwih, a sacred and almost ancient, that has been developed all over the island since the 11th century. 

Subak is an irrigation system developed based on Balinese Hindu religion and is tightly connected to the religious rituals and beliefs. One core idea is to be in harmony with nature and acquire optimal results. Subak is also one of the manifestations of Tri Hita Karana philosophy. It’s the philosophy of maintaining balance between man and his fellows, man with nature, and man with the Creator. Since June 2012 subak has also been listed as one of the UNESCO cultural world heritage sites during a congregation meeting in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

Jatiluwih – a mystical place

Like most areas of Bali, behind Jatiluwih are also historical, and mythological stories, which are still told and to some extend believed today among local communities.

One source of its name is explained that Jatiluwih is derived from the word “jaton” and “luwih”, jaton means charm and luwih means good, so it can be interpreted Jatiluwih is a village that has a lot of goodness, like a lucky charm.

Another explanation for its name is that Jatiluwih was once a burial area of Jatayu (a mythology creature/ demi-god in the form of a Garuda bird). At that time Jatayu was often also pronounced as Jatonayu which sounds similar to Jatiluwih.

Because of its popularity, at that time, there were many people with diverse backgrounds such as Brahmana, Ksatria, Wesia dan Sudra visiting Jatiluwih from other areas of Tabanan. They were not only visiting ​Jatiluwih but also built some temples such as Pura Luhur Petali, Pura Luhur Bhujangga Waisnawa, Pura Rsi, Pura Taksu and other sacred places.

Visit Jatiluwih Traditional Village

Once Jatiluwih began to be more recognized by visitors from abroad, local communities wanted to make the area accessible to visitors but also to make sure it is protected from the potential negative effects of tourism. Jatiluwih village is now one of the touristic villages, recognized and overseen by the government.

Visitors can learn about the concept of agricultural tourism, rice terraces, the subak system, and join various activities of farmers in Jatiluwih. You can try to be a farmer for a day by doing; hoeing, Nampadin (cleaning procession for rice field), Ngelampit (plowing rice field), Melasah (leveling the soil of the rice field), Nandur (planting rice), etc.

Other activities such as trekking, hiking and cycling can also be found and booked when you visit the village. It’s a beautiful experience. There are some cosy, cafes, warungs, and restaurants with signature dishes using only Jatiluwih fresh produces.

If you are planning to visit Jatiluwih, it is recommended if you arrive at the location in the morning around 8:00 am until 10:00 am. Usually, this area will be very busy during lunch hours. During afternoon often fog and low hanging clouds hinder the spectacular view, but it has its own charm. Due to the high level of altitude, it can indeed rain in this area often. Visitors are advised to bring raincoats or umbrellas when visiting Jatiluwih.

To enjoy the natural scenery of Jatiluwih at the most, you can visit throughout February to April, because in these months the rice stalks are starting to grow and you will be able to witness the green-yellow carpets of rice terraces. During June – July (called Sasih Sada), you will be able to see farmers harvesting their crops on site. Something the former President of the United States, Barack Obama, who had visited Jatiluwih in June 2017, joined doing during his visit.

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