Bangli Regency, Bali
Having existed since the 18th century during the period of the Bangli Kingdom, Penglipuran is among Bali’s oldest villages. Situated about 45 km from Denpasar, 700 meters above the sea level, this 112-hectare hidden gem was declared one of the world’s cleanest villages in 2016, together with Mawlynnong village in India and Giethoorn village in the Netherlands.
It is often said that Penglipuran means “a place to remember the land of the ancestors”, as the name is believed to be originated from the word pengeling or eling, which means “to remember”, and pura, which means “ancestral land”. Some other believed that Penglipuran is derived from the word pelipur, which literally means “a source of consolation”. Either way, the village’s beauty and tranquility truly speaks for itself.
More than just its physical beauty, Penglipuran is an excellent showcase of how democracy at the community level works and blends in with the local wisdom. Home to 1,005 people from 238 families, the village maintains its centuries-old customs and tradition. For example, the traditional system where 76 members of the village council were appointed by the 238 families to represent them in discussing and deciding village issues, from decisions on day-to-day matters to a more strategic ones.
Besides democracy, the community also upholds the principle of harmony and sustainability by embracing the life philosophy of Tri Hita Karana: harmony among people, harmony with nature or environment, and harmony with God. This translates into the community adherence to the traditional customs, ‘gotong royong’ or communal cooperation, and the community attitude towards nature. In 1995, the community received the environmental sustainability award ‘Kalpataru’ from the Indonesian government for preserving the village’s traditional spatial layout, architecture and the 75 hectares of bamboo forest in the north of the village.