Bali Island History By Bali Agung Property

Bali is a beautiful island that is in harmony with nature. It is also known worldwide for having a unique colorful spiritual culture. Inherent in the fascinating culture are its many rituals and practices which originated thousands of years ago, and till today they have survived. Such is the endurance of Balinese culture, which in turn reflects on the deep faith and resilience of the Balinese people. To study the roots of today's practices and how they have evolved from the original rituals is to take an interesting educational journey into the past.

In contrast to matters of religion, Bali's history is difficult to chronicle as factual evidence has not been collected. What is known is that at some stage in pre-historical times, an indigenous people populated the island. Their descendants, known as the Bali Aga, practised animism. Today, they settle mainly in the villages of Tenganan and Trunyan and still continue to worship the spirits of nature, uninfluenced by the spread of Hinduism.

By the 11th century, Hindu and Javanese influences became very important to Bali. In fact, when the Balinese Prince Airlanggha’s father died in about 1011 AD, he moved to East Java, uniting it under one principality and appointing his brother, Anak Wungsu, the ruler of all of Bali. Following this time, there were many reciprocal political and artistic ideas that formed. Javanese language, called Kawi, became the aristocracy’s preference, among other Javanese traits and customs that were worked into Bali life.

When Airlanggha died in the mid-11th century, Bali remained quite autonomous until 1284, when East Javanese king Kertanegara conquered Bali and ruled over it from his home in Java. Kertanegara was assassinated in 1292, and Bali was once again liberated, until 1343 when it was brought back into Javanese control by Hindu-Javanese general Gajah Mada, of the Majapahit empire.

At this time, the 16th century, Islam was spreading throughout Sumatra and Java, and the Majapahit Empire started to fall, creating a large exodus of aristocracy, priests, artists and artisans to Bali. This brought Bali great prosperity, becoming Bali’s golden age of cultural history for the following centuries. Bali soon became the major power of the region, taking control of its neighboring country, Lombok, as well as pieces of East Java.

In 1597, Dutch seamen were the first Europeans to land in Bali, though they had no true interest in Bali until the 1800’s. In 1846 the Dutch returned with colonization on their minds, having already had vast expanses of Indonesia under their control since the 1700’s. The Dutch sent troops into northern Bali, and by 1894, they had sided with the Sasak people of Lombok to defeat the Balinese. By 1911, all Balinese principalities were under Dutch control.

After World War I, a sense of Indonesian Nationalism began to grow, leading to the declaration of the national language in 1928, as Bahasa Indonesia. World War II brought the Japanese, who expelled the Dutch and occupied Indonesia from 1942 until 1945. The Japanese were later defeated, and the Dutch returned to attempt to regain control of Bali and Indonesia. However, in 1945, Indonesia was declared independent by its very first president, Sukarno. The Dutch government ceded, and Indonesia was officially recognized as an independent country in 1949.

Today, Bali is still experiencing rapid growth with numerous major resorts and hotels and plans for more. The quiet island is now one of the most economically dynamic region in Indonesia. Its original beauty and unique culture has made Bali more than just tourist destination.

Bali's attraction was tarnished briefly by the political tension in Indonesia over the past few years. But tourists (half of whom are Australian or Japanese) have decided that this corner of Indonesia, at least, is safe. after a few decades of golden era, tourism industry in Bali fell apart after the bombing attack in Legian area in October 2002 that killed hundreds of people, majority Australians. Numerous foreign governments warned their citizens to visit Bali after the bombing. But as the years went by, the tourism in Bali gradually bloomed. Other bombing attacks took place in Kuta and Jimbaran recently in October 2005. The attacks were the latest of a series of bombings in Indonesia in recent years. The victims were not as many as the bombing victims in 2002 but still it brought negative impact on tourism industry in Bali.

Bali’s tourism industry has experienced its up and down era but with proper management, security, and the strong wiil of Bali Hindus people whom can`t be broken, there is a good reason to hope for a brighter future.