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Bali's Past

Reminiscing The Past of Bali

The finding of a few traces of Stone Age people in Bali indicates that the island was inhibited very early in prehistoric times. With the mediation of Java, Indian traders brought and influenced Hinduism culture. Inscriptions on a stone pillar near Sanur from the IX Century were the earliest written records. In the XI Century, the influence of Hinduism from Java spread into Bali.

Bali was under Javanese Kingdom’s control when Singasari Dynasty conquered Bali in 1284. The autonomy was regained by Balinese Kingdom when Pejeng Dynasty rose to power. Javanese Kingdom ruled back in Bali after the great Majapahit Dynasty defeated Pejeng Kingdom in 1343. In the XV Century, after Islam played a major influence in Java, The Majapahit Kingdom collapsed and many Hindu people from Java moved to Bali and enriched the cultural nuance.

Dutch sailors were the first European came to Bali in 1597. In the 1600s, After the Dutch established trade treaties with Javanese princes and struggled in the spice trade with the Portuguese, the Dutch became more interested in profit.

The Dutch landed military forces in Northern Bali in 1846 and used Balinese salvage claims over shipwrecks as an alleged reason. Conspiring with the Sasaks of Lombok, the Dutch tried to defeat the King of Bali. Finally, the Sasaks changed their point of view and slaughtered the Dutch. The incident made Dutch invading Bali with a heavy military force. After the attack, the northern part of Bali was under Dutch’s control and the ties with Lombok severed. The southern part of Bali also lost its autonomy. In 1904, another salvage clash resulted in Dutch warships appearing off Sanur.

After taking five days for Dutch troops to reach Denpasar, the Dutch urged the Kingdom of Bali to surrender. Balinese monarchs and religious leaders decided to take the moral path of a suicidal puputan - a fight to the death - rather than surrender. First the palaces were burnt, then - dressed in their finest jewelry and waving golden blades-the King led the royalty and priests confronted the Dutch and their modern weapons. The Dutch pleaded the Balinese to surrender, but the Balinese refused to do so and had choose to die rather than surrender. Almost 4000 Balinese died in this war.

Finally, The entire island came under Dutch control and became a part of the Dutch East Indies. Despite the extensive overture to colonization, Japanese took control of Bali and other part of in Indonesia in World War II.

After the independence of Indonesia, it took almost more than four years to persuade the Dutch for not going back in charge in Indonesia. In 1946, Balinese resistance group was wiped out in the Battle of Marga. The Dutch finally recognised Indonesia's independence in 1949.

In 1965, an attempted coup d'état blamed on communists led to Sukarno's collapse. General Suharto suppressed the coup and emerged as a foremost political figure. In Bali, local communists were professed as a hazard to traditional principles and the caste system because of their manifesto. Religious traditionalists took advantage of the post-coup hysteria and led a hunt against communist loyalists. Mobs began to kill people suspected communists. An estimated 50,000 to 100,000 people were killed, at a time when the island's population only totalled 2 million.

During the Suharto’s administrations, the government of Indonesia looked the west for alliances and investment. In Bali, the tourism industry played the major role and the establishment of infrastructure and supporting facilities were done. These efforts created not only a dramatic economic growth but also the dislocation of local populations and disturbance of many traditional communities. Many Balinese feel that Javanese interests dominate the industry and the locals have slight control over its growth.

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