At some 200 m altitude, in the west of Nusa Penida, close to Bunga Mekar, sits the temple of Paluang, towering over steep limestone cliffs. The name of the temple could be explained as 'pa-luwang'. The prefix 'pa-' (nomen agentis) in combination with 'luwang', which in Balinese has various meanings, a.o.: lacking arm or foot; forest, jungle; the one day of the ékawara (the one-day week). This needs verification.
Images above: a car at Pura Paluang and the head of a 'Boma' inside it (www.beritabali.com, viewed October 2014)
Images above: two cars at Pura Paluang; the car on the right (Volkswagen?) seems to have been replaced, see below (Jeremy Strangward, summer 2011)
There has been debate on the origins of the temple, as it harbours a number of rather peculiar objects: two cement cars are venerated and have been given a pedestal. Depicting, chiselling or sculpturing means of transport in Balinese temples is not unique to Nusa Penida. Pura Jagaraga temple in North Bali, near Singaraja, is another example: an old-fashioned car and a bicycle have been depicted on its walls. In recent years, the story behind this curious and unique temple was shrouded in mystery. During the author's last visit, July 2014, this temple was deserted and the temple warden, also the head of the village (Karangdawa), was not available for comments.
Images above: Pura Paluang (July 2014, Godi Dijkman)
According to I Nyoman Usana, writer in Lembongan (interview July 2014), Pura Paluang became part of Karangdawa area after the renovations of the temple in 2001. It used to belong to Bunga Mekar. The temple was built by the old people of Karangdawa in remembrance of the Dutch colonial cars they witnessed possibly between 1920-1940. At the time, these vehicles arrived at this location from Toya Pakeh on their way to Sakti along dirt roads, normally accessible only on foot. Therefore, the sight of these cars must have caused quite as stir.
Images above: left brandnew orange car on a pedestal (ca. 1m high); a second older red car on a much lower pedestal (July 2014, Godi Dijkman)
The temple itself predates the introduction of cars and was already in place when the inhabitants in the 1930s decided to place cars as objects to be revered. I Nyoman Usana, however, is not sure about these dates. It was the people's imagination and remembrance of forlorn times, which inspired them to put up cars as part of the temple complex, a dream of the things they saw became objects of veneration. The cars were to be 'diistanakan' - as aspirations and hope of a better future.
Between 2001 and 2014, the temple was renovated several times and the cars were given new varnish and even a higher pedestal.
Images above: (left) figures inside the older red car, two cars in the southwest corner of the temple complex (July 2014, Godi Dijkman)
- Shadeg, Norbert - Balinese-English Dictionary, Tuttle Publishing, Periplus Editions, Singapore, 2007
- Jeremy Strangward: photographs (summer 2011)
- Usana, I Nyoman (interview), Lembongan, Nusa Penida, July 2014
- http://www.beritabali.com/index.php/page/foto/klk/detail/27/Desember/2011/Pura-Paluangkoma-Karang-Dawa-Nusa-Penida/85/?&page=2?&page=1? &page=3?&page=4?&page=5?&page=4?&page=1 (viewed October 2014)