Legend of the Bali Strait: the Fate of the Separation of the Islands of Java and Bali

Bali Strait, a waterway that separates Java Island and Bali Island, has a long history that involves geological processes and cultural myths. This strait is not only a vital maritime route for transportation and trade in Indonesia but also holds interesting stories that depict the close relationship between nature and culture in the region.

Nov 14, 2023 - 06:05
Sep 25, 2023 - 16:17
Legend of the Bali Strait: the Fate of the Separation of the Islands of Java and Bali
Bali Strait (Photo Source: https://qph.cf2.quoracdn.net/main-qimg-5b787f330914234ac39007d19f655685-lq)

Bali Strait is one of the important shipping lanes in Indonesia, located between the islands of Java and Bali. This strait has a long history and is rich in stories, myths, and fascinating historical events. Here is one of the stories associated with Bali Strait.

In one of the legends, there is a story about a Brahmana named Sidi Mantra who possessed great power. Sanghyang Widya granted Sidi Mantra a gift of treasure and a beautiful wife. After several years of marriage, they had a son named Manik Angkeran.

Manik Angkeran grew up to be a handsome and intelligent young man, but he had a weakness for gambling. He often lost and squandered his parents' wealth. Unable to repay his debts, he sought help. Sidi Mantra, his father, prayed and fasted in the hope of seeking divine intervention. Suddenly, a voice was heard, "Hey, Sidi Mantra, in the crater of Mount Agung, there is a treasure owned by Besukih Dragon. Go there and request a small portion of that treasure."

Sidi Mantra embarked on a journey to Mount Agung, overcoming various obstacles. Upon arrival, he sat in meditation, recited mantras, and called upon Besukih Dragon by ringing a bell. Before long, Besukih Dragon appeared and, upon hearing Sidi Mantra's intentions, bestowed gold and diamonds upon him.

Sidi Mantra was very grateful, and upon his return, he gave all the treasure to Manik Angkeran, hoping that his son would no longer fall into gambling. Unfortunately, the wealth was quickly squandered, and Manik Angkeran sought help again. Sidi Mantra was disappointed and felt betrayed by his son.

Manik Angkeran was not idle. He wanted to know where his father had obtained the treasure. Shortly after, he learned that the treasure came from Mount Agung. He knew that to obtain the treasure, he had to recite a mantra, but unfortunately, he had never learned prayers and mantras. In the end, he only took a bell while his father was asleep.

Upon reaching the crater of Mount Agung, Manik Angkeran was frightened when he saw Besukih Dragon. Then the dragon spoke, "I will give you the treasure you desire, but you must promise to change your ways. You must never gamble again. Remember the law of karma." After Besukih Dragon realized Manik Angkeran's true intentions.

Manik Angkeran was amazed to see gold, diamonds, and gems in front of him. Nevertheless, he was tempted by the devil within him and desired even more treasure. As a result, he decided to cut off Besukih Dragon's tail when the dragon returned to its lair. Manik Angkeran was briefly terrified, but thanks to the magical power of Besukih Dragon, when the dragon's tongue touched Manik Angkeran's trail, his body turned to ash.

Seeing the death of his son, Sidi Mantra was deeply saddened and tried to find Besukih Dragon, pleading for his son to be brought back to life. Besukih Dragon eventually granted his request, on the condition that Sidi Mantra could restore the dragon's tail to its original state. With his magic, Sidi Mantra successfully restored Besukih Dragon's tail to its former state. After Manik Angkeran was brought back to life, he apologized and promised never to repeat his mistakes. Nevertheless, Sidi Mantra decided not to live with his son again.

"You must start a new life," Sidi Mantra said. In the blink of an eye, he disappeared. In his place where he is stand, a source of water appeared, which gradually grew into a sea. With supernatural power, Sidi Mantra created a boundary between him and his son. Based on this story, the place became known as Bali Strait, separating Java Island from Bali Island.

This legend is an example of how the Balinese people celebrate the close relationship between nature and their spirituality. To them, Bali Strait is not just a body of water, it also holds a deep meaning in their beliefs and culture.

Bali Strait (Photo Source: Editorial Collection)

In addition to this story, the formation of Bali Strait is largely related to the subduction process. Tens of millions of years ago, this region consisted of a larger landmass, but as the subduction process continued, the land began to split. The accumulation of pressure and friction between tectonic plates led to cracks and fractures in the Earth's crust.

Over millions of years, this process eventually shaped Bali Strait as we know it today. The cracks and fissures underwent erosion by seawater and other natural factors. Gradually, Bali Strait formed as a waterway that separates Java Island from Bali Island.

Bali Strait has played a significant role in the history and daily life of Indonesia. Since ancient times, this strait has been a vital trade route between Java Island and Bali Island. Transportation through Bali Strait enabled the exchange of goods, cultures, and ideas between the two islands.

In the past, Bali Strait also had a strategic role in the political and military relations between the kingdoms of Java and Bali. Control over Bali Strait was key to efforts to control territory and influence in the region.

Furthermore, Bali Strait also has a significant influence on the climate and weather in the area. Wind patterns and ocean currents passing through the Bali Strait affect the rainy and dry seasons on Bali Island and its surroundings. This is crucial for agriculture and the livelihoods of fishermen in the area.