Watching the sun rise over the peak of Mount Batur, waiting for that magical moment when the clouds part and the vast caldera comes into view – is an experience that can make you appreciate just why this entire highlands area is sacred country to the Balinese. The area of Kintamani is the land of Bali Aga. These Indigenous people of Bali share a sacred bond with their land and its spiritual inhabitants. Spending time on this country embodies you with a sense of the spirit and energy that is sometimes lost in the shadows of the more famous low-lying kingdoms of Southern Bali (Reuter 2002).
Heading north from the caldera viewing point, taking the road less travelled by day trippers and scene seekers you come to a narrow, winding roadway, densely lined by forest on both sides. The gradual ascent steepens suddenly, and rounding a sharp bend, you enter Desa Sukawana, a designated Kintamani pure zone (Madanir 2018).
It is hard not to be taken aback by the number of free roaming, thick coated, short eared, fuzzy tailed Kintamani Dogs. They stroll along the roadside, gather in clusters alongside warungs and lift their muzzles in a threatening growl to the incoming strangers. In the middle of this village is a large plinth on the top of which sits a stone statue of a Dog. A plaque reads ‘Banjar Sukawana, Home of the Kintamani Dog’.
This is believed to be the birth place of the Bali Dog. It is here, during the twelfth century that King Jaya Pangus built a temple in honour of his beautiful Chinese princess bride, Kang Ching Wei. He called the area Balingkang to signify the union of the two countries and cultures. Local mythology describes the Princess bringing her Chinese Chow Chow dogs with her to live in her new home and it is from these dogs that the Kintamani dog has descended (Muthia 2018).
Genetically, the short haired Bali Street Dog carries DNA markers from the Kintamani, and no one really knows which one came to the Island first (Puja et al. 2005). However, leaving aside the debate about what came first, the Kintamani, or the short haired Bali Dog, this is a place of significance for the Bali Aga and those of us outsiders who admire and respect the Bali Dog be they the short or long haired variety.
Madanir, R 2018, Bali's Kintamani Dogs seek global recognition.
Muthia, R 2018, How Bali’s Chinese were accepted and integrated into island society – in contrast to other parts of Indonesia.
Puja, I, K, Schaffer, A, L, Irion, D, N & Pedersen, N, C 2005, “The Kintamani Dog: Genetic Profile of an Emerging Breed from Bali, Indonesia’, Journal of Heredity , vol.96, no. 7, pp. 854-859.
Reuter, T 2002, Custodians of the Sacred Mountains, Honolulu, University of Hawaii Press .