Trunyan Cemetery : Where Dead Body (literaly) Laid Under the Shades of Magic Tree

Trunyan Village is located remotely across Batur Lake. It takes about 3 hours drive from Denpasar or 2 hours drive from Ubud. As some other mountain tribes in some parts of Indonesia, they still preserve their indigenous tradition. For Trunyanese, they have distinctive belief, custom, tradition than other areas in Bali, especially on how to treat dead bodies.

Road from Lake Batur rim to Trunyan Village is winding, some steep and narrow, when i went there the road uncountable potholes. Arrival at the village, you will sense the different life than Kuta Area or Ubud area. The electricity has already light the village, it has also phone signal and internet. Trunyanese are farmers, they grow vegetables, like cabbage, chilly, garlic, onion and bean. They also do fishing at Batur Lake and some work in tourism as boat crew taking tourist to Trunyan Cemetery. Yet, there are only small amount of visitors visiting Trunyan Area compared to other popular tourist destination on the island.

Cock fighting is very common activity in Trunyan. In the afternoon some cocks in the cage in front of the houses. Kintamani dogs roam nearby the lake. Metal roof houses of Trunyanese are not fully decorated like Balinese house. Trunyan has been inhabited since the 10th Century, as written on Trunyan Inscription date back 833 Saka (0r 911 AD), that reveals permit to erect a seven levels temple to worship Batara Da Tonta, or after Hinduization, called as Ratu Sakti Pancering Jagat. And the village has been there even longer. Trunyanese are Bali Mula, or the oldest community living in Bali, and still preserves their neolithic customs (pre-Hindu custom). They are not primitive tribe at all, they are just conservative and avoid having outsiders or new values. Even though Trunyan is a tourist destination , locals do not prepare lodging, homestay or restaurant. You can only find small stalls selling mineral water nearby the lake.

From Trunyan harbor, you will need to ride boat to the cemetery. The boat has no engine, 2 people rowed the boat. This boat also used by locals going to cemetery and temple next to the cemetery. Visitors will be given life vest for this boat ride. I enjoy this 15 minutes non-engine boat ride, as i feel the quietness of the lake and moving slowly on a paddle pace give me time to enjoy the vista more and imagining how local do it for their funeral. I saw some visitors using speedboat which are very noisy.

The cemetery area is not a big area, it is located right on the edge of the lake under the shades. When i went there the boat man informed us that we can take pictures or videos, and it is not allowed to take anything from the cemetery. He also mentioned that there were 3 new dead bodies laid there. Trunyan Tree looks like Banyan tree (genus : ficus) . This tree (is believed to) absorbs the bad odor. Trunyan derives from Taru means tree and Menyan means fragrant. According to the legend, in the past unlike now, Taru Menyan was so fragrant across the island that might attract outsider to find the tree, the village leader asked his people to not bury the corpse, but just laid under the tree, to neutralize the fragrance.

Under the tree there are skulls placed on shrine. And about 10 meters from the shrine are some bodies covered by clothes and then caged by bamboo, to prevent animals attacking the body. When i arrived there i saw 3 monkeys sitting on those cage. The cemetery looks dirty with various goods, such as flip flops, plate, spoon, mat, and other household items, which are dedicated by the family to the dead for their life after death.

All in all visiting Trunyan was an amazing experience, even though it was organized poorly still. Enhancing the life of Trunyanese by education can be like contradiction, which can also endanger the local unique traditional value and custom with modern value on the other end.

And beware of insects when you visiting the cemetery, though  the insects are not dangerous and leave a tiny red bump, it will be more convenient if those insects do not bite you. A friend of mine got bitten by an insects that we do not know the name is, it just flied to him, and made two bites (or probably stings) that made him panic as it was like  electric shock.