Pura Anantha Boga is a sacred forest in Indonesia kept beautifully with sculptures of Mother Mary, Jesus Christ, Goddess of Mercy, Shiva, Ganesha alongside a Muslim surau.

In Malaysia, we have streets of harmony with churches, mosques and temples side by side. But did you know in Indonesia, there is a sacred forest site displaying a similar rare show of unity?

Hindu God Ganeshan overlooking the holy river

Welcome to Pura Anantha Boga or aptly known as Anta Boga in Banyuwangi, Indonesia. I call it “Heaven in the Forest” because the sacred site exudes an aura of peace and serenity captured in the beautiful verdant profile of the forest.

A portrayal of Lord Shiva among the greens

Nestled on the slopes of Raung Mountain in Glenmore District, Banyuwangi, Anantha Boga is sprawled over an area of 300 acres of forest. The people of Bali and the surrounding villagers believe that the legend Rsi Markendeya meditated in this forest and received God’s calling to build a temple in the next island now known as Bali. The temple is named Besakih, mother temple of Bali.

This holy river’s water is believed to have healing powers

Anantha Boga is then transformed into a sacred forest site with the belief that all religions are good and could co-exist in harmony. The site was built by the local community to reflect East Java’s rich culture and tolerance to all religions. It has since attracted locals and tourists alike from all faiths. 

Behind The Legacy

Anantha Boga is the name of one of the Sang Hyang Naga Tiga; namely Sang Hyang Naga Ananthaboga (symbolising earth), Sang Hyang Naga Basuki (symbolising water) and Sang Hyang Naga Taksaka (symbolising air). The three are believed to form the island of Bali. Etymologically, Anantha Boga means food that will not run out.

It is believed that Pura Anantha Boga takes on the Tri Hita Karana concept, which is the harmonisation between God (parahyangan), humans (pawongan), and nature (palemahan).

An altar of Mother Mary with flower offerings

There are various kinds of symbols that represent the existence of the oldest religion Hinduism, such as lingga-yoni and Ganesha statues. Lingga-yoni is an object used for the means of worshiping Shiva and Parvati, while Ganesha is known as the god of knowledge and son of Shiva and Parvati. 

A statue of Jesus in the forest

Today, the Tourism Board of Indonesia is dynamically promoting Pura Anantha Boga as one of the key tourist destinations in East Java. Garuda Indonesia’s low-cost airline, Citilink has also recently opened the Kuala Lumpur-Banyuwangi direct round-trip route. 

Getting There

• From Airport Belimbing Sari, approximately 40-45km

• From nearest Hotel Pinus, appoximately 10-15km

• From the Genteng Subdistrict, about 6km to the west (Glenmore). Turn right after finding a signboard (to the north) then cross the railroad tracks. Then walk straight for 6 km to the Anantha Boga secretariat, the Sandya Dharma Temple in Selorejo Hamlet.

Good To Know

Cover your body appropriately when entering the site. If you want to purify your body in the holy spring water, you may change into a sarong.

Text and photos by Francis Yip

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