Memories of a Sublime Experience – Balinese Art

July 11, 2016

Immersion is the key to travel.

Not just immersing oneself physically into the environment but also mentally completely drowning oneself in it….Allowing every element to flood in through the senses into the consciousness. Just live that moment.

I did not realise that I do this actively! Every time I am awestruck, this just happens naturally. My mind flows across time and space and fixes itself in the magical era during which that location was alive. I imagine what the guides and the plaques tell me and transport myself into that environment. I imagine the history happening around me. And the scents of the space, the visions of the space as I see it with my eyes and with my imagination – all sync together to create  a complete experience that is unbearably unforgettable.

This is how it was on my visit to Angkor, to Nubra, to Lingdum and to many other places in the past. And this is how it was on my visit to  Kerta Gosa courthouse in Bali.

Nothing I had read and seen on the net prepared me for this larger-than-life experience.

The fact that the driver stopped in the centre of the town square in the midst of traffic and pointed me to Kerta Gosa right in the middle of the noise was a bit disillusioning. But well, we had made the effort of coming here, so there was no going back without seeing it. So I lugged my cameras and with dampened excitement walked in.

And the magic began once I was inside the compound walls. We were alone. No other locals or tourists. The water surrounding the temple-like structure, the open layout, the wind the sun were all mine and only mine to wander through. I climbed up the stairs and got my first glimpse of the paintings – and knew hat I was going to be there for a long long time.

I spent about 2 hours in the 2 open halls. And if there was nothing else lined up, I could have easily spent a few lifetimes just absorbing the lives of others laid bare on the paintings on the ceiling.

A few photos of the place that resulted in this sublime ecstasy

KERTA GOSA PAINTINGS BALI INDONESIA KAMASAN KERTA GOSA PAINTINGS BALI INDONESIA KAMASAN KERTA GOSA PAINTINGS BALI INDONESIA KAMASAN KERTA GOSA PAINTINGS BALI INDONESIA KAMASAN KERTA GOSA PAINTINGS BALI INDONESIA KAMASAN KERTA GOSA PAINTINGS BALI INDONESIA KAMASAN KERTA GOSA PAINTINGS BALI INDONESIA KAMASAN KERTA GOSA PAINTINGS BALI INDONESIA KAMASAN KERTA GOSA PAINTINGS BALI INDONESIA KAMASAN KERTA GOSA PAINTINGS BALI INDONESIA KAMASAN KERTA GOSA PAINTINGS BALI INDONESIA KAMASAN KERTA GOSA PAINTINGS BALI INDONESIA KAMASAN KERTA GOSA PAINTINGS BALI INDONESIA KAMASAN KERTA GOSA PAINTINGS BALI INDONESIA KAMASAN KERTA GOSA PAINTINGS BALI INDONESIA KAMASAN KERTA GOSA PAINTINGS BALI INDONESIA KAMASAN KERTA GOSA PAINTINGS BALI INDONESIA KAMASAN

The tranquility of that space probably came from the shade of the building in the hot afternoon sun and the open layout that resulted in the mild breeze dotting the stillness of the afternoon. Whatever the reason may have been, it was sublime enough to be deeply inscribed on my soul forever.

In those moments of immersion, being lost in one scene and then another I visualised the artists and the people that these paintings were modeled on, and tried to touch their souls – but the imagination failed at that point. It was like looking through an opaque glass – knowing that there is a lot happening beyond but not being able to see any of it. These painted scenes were those glasses and offered definite glimpses of that past world which my mind knew definitely existed – but I could see none of it with my eyes. So I just sat on the floor, closed my eyes and mindlessly let it all seep in.

Over time, the gentle nebulous experience became so huge that the immersion of the soul was complete. Today as I write this, 8 months have passed since it happened, yet the memory of the felt experience is completely lucid.

Was it the art in the paintings? Was it the art of the architecture? Was it the aura of all the people that once populated this place? Was it just the connection to the past that gave it this amazing tint?

Maybe it was the sum of all these parts. Maybe it was my willingness to be swept away in wonder and immerse myself with abandon.

Will never know. But it doesn’t matter really. All that matters is that I made great memories in those moments.

 

.

jm

July 2016

 

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