Margarana

West Bali

Bali's role in Indonesia's independence struggle is commemorated at the Margarana, northwest of Marga village. Tourists seldom visit, but every Balinese schoolchild comes here at least once, and a ceremony is held annually on 20 November. In a large compound stands a 17m-high pillar, and nearby is a museum with a few photos, homemade weapons and other artefacts from the conflict (Ngurah Rai’s quoteworthy last letter includes the line: ‘Freedom or death!’). Other than weekday-morning school groups, the site is quiet.

Behind the Margarana is a smaller compound with 1372 small stone memorials to those who gave their lives for the cause of independence – they’re headstone markers in a military cemetery, though bodies are not actually buried here. Each memorial has a symbol indicating the hero’s religion, mostly the Hindu swastika, but also Islamic crescent moons and even a few Christian crosses. Look for the memorials to 11 Japanese who stayed on after WWII and fought with the Balinese against the Dutch.