Nusa Penida was used as a penal colony by the various Balinese Kingdoms between around 1850 and the 1930s. Hence, the island was called ‘Bandit island’. Scores of criminals ranging from political rioters and cast transgressors to ordinary thieves and those who abused black magic, were expelled from Bali to serve their sentence on Nusa Penida. Most of them died there, for the conditions were harsh. Moreover, the island was once ruled by the cruel Radja Dalem Bungkut whose reign was fortified by his foremost general, Ratu Gede Mecaling. It is the latter who has become Nusa’s main ‘ambassador’, since this fanged giant is held responsible for ‘grubug’ (cholera), spread over the island of Bali from the south by his army of evil spirits. In order to keep woe at bay, both Dalem Bungkut and Gede Mecaling were given temples on Nusa, located near the town of Ped. These deities have to be continually kept satisfied and are revered with elaborate offerings. Thus, it is not without reason that up until quite recently Nusa Penida was left to its own devices and, perhaps out of fear, largely ignored.
Nusa Penida, the black magic island: the place where all Balinese must pilgrimage once in their lives to the temple whose energy provides negative balance to the white, light side of divinity.
Ratu Gede Nusa was the leader of 500 wong samar (holy people that cannot be seen by normal eyes) who protected the island. This man was notorious as spreader of disease and evil, the source of black magic and the benefactor of the leyaks (witches). He is popularly known as I Macaling, the name Macaling derives from word Caling means fang.
Ratu Gede has a temple dedicated to him on Nusa Penida, an island a short distance off Bali’s eastern coast, and considered by the Balinese as angker, or excessively full of evil.