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Typical Watering of Balinese Rice Fields, Subak


Visa Bali Info – Typical Watering of Balinese Rice Fields, subak

Like a painting, the expanse of green rice fields spoils the eye. From end to end, terraced terraces are neatly arranged.

It has green open land in the form of terraced rice fields that offer amazing and spectacular natural views.

Not infrequently nowadays a number of natural terraced rice fields are packaged more attractively by making spots or rides for selfie photos with instagramable natural backgrounds.

However, did you know that some of the terraced rice fields in Bali still use the Subak irrigation system. Then what is meant by the Subak irrigation system, see!


Subak Irrigation System for Rice Fields

According to the meaning of Subak is the irrigation system of the Balinese people which concerns customary law and has characteristics, namely social, agricultural, religious with determination and a spirit of mutual cooperation in the effort to obtain water with the aim of meeting water needs in producing food crops, especially rice and crops.

The Subak irrigation system itself is recognized and known as a traditional irrigation system that is sustainable for the environment, which in practice does not damage the environment.

Subak Has a Tri Hita Karana Philosophy

The Subak irrigation system is a practice of the Tri Hita Karana philosophy, a traditional Balinese philosophy which emphasizes three things that can have a good impact on human welfare :

  • Harmonious relationship with God
  • With fellow humans and
  • With nature

Implementing a Fair System

In practice, water distribution is carried out fairly and evenly. If there are problems, these problems can be discussed and solved together.

And what is unique is that the timing of planting and the determination of the type of rice to be planted are also carried out with members of the Subak.

Then if members commit violations, then the sanctions for various forms of violations will be determined by the residents through ceremonies or rituals held at the temple.

The application of the subak system is carried out as irrigation for rice fields which is regulated so that justice is realized for fellow members.

If one paddy field has two or more water channels (cakangan) that are close to each other, the height of the water channels must be the same.

Application of the Subak System in Terraced Fields

There are five sites that display the main components namely nature, religion and culture which are interconnected from the traditional system, where the subak system is still fully functional.

These five sites include;

  1. Ulun Danu Batur Temple Water Temple

This site is on the shores of Lake Batur whose crater lake is considered to be the origin of every spring and river.

2. Pakerisan River Basin

The Subak Landscape in the Pakerisan watershed, this is the oldest known irrigation system in Bali.

3. Catur Angga Batukaru

The Catur Angga Batukaru landscape with terraces mentioned in 10th century inscriptions makes it one of the oldest in Bali and a prime example of classical Balinese temple architecture.

4. Taman Ayun Temple Water Temple

Air Pura Taman Ayun Temple is the largest and has a unique architectural form.

5. Landscape Process

The processes that shaped the landscape, using a form of multilevel irrigated agriculture managed by the Subak system, have persisted for thousands of years today.

The agricultural areas are planted sustainably by the community as subak members and their water supply is managed in a democratic and fair manner.


In simple terms the five sites above can be interpreted as, forests that protect water supplies, rice fields in the form of terracing, water canal systems, villages, and also temples that mark water sources or water flows to subak. It is not surprising that UNESCO has included the subak system as one of the world’s cultural heritages.


For those of you who want to enjoy how subak is applied to Balinese rice fields, then you can visit the terraced rice fields in Jatiluwih and Tegalalang.


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