Karangasem

Travel Guide Lesser Sunda Islands Bali Karangasem

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Introduction

Karangasem regency is the most eastern part of Bali. Before Indonesia’s independence it was the mightiest of the eight kingdoms of Bali, whose power once extended to Lombok. The dynasty dates its history to around 1600 A.D. The last king, Anak Agung Anglurah Ketut Karangasem, reigned from 1908 to 1950. The Dutch conquered Karangasem in 1849, king I Gusti Ngurah Gede Karangasem died in the battle. The Dutch then put vassals on the throne, who remained on friendly terms with them. The name Karangasem derives from Karang Semadi, meaning ‘meditation rock’. This would be a reference to high point Adri Karang on Mount Seraya where god Bhatara Guru descended to earth bringing his light to the world. One can visit the selfsame spot, it is now occupied by temple Pura Lempuyang Luhur. Lempuyang or Lampu Hyang meaning ‘the light of god’.

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Geography

With 840 square kilometres, Karangasem covers almost one sixth of Bali’s area. The topography is varied, with lowlands, hills and mountains. The latter includes Bali’s highest mountain, active volcano Gunung Agung. About 8% of the area consists of rice fields. The coastline of Karangasem is 87 kilometres long, with several touristic locations like Amed and Candidasa.

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Towns

  • Amlapura, the capital of Karangasem with about 100,000 inhabitants. The town used to be called Karangasem like the regency, but its name was changed after the 1963 eruption of Mount Agung, by which it was severely damaged.

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Villages

  • Amed with Tulamben and Jemeluk, on the northeast coast of Karangasem, famous for diving.
  • Candidasa - Formerly just a fishermen’s village, Candidasa now consists of a string of villas and resorts hemmed in between the main road and the sea. There is not much of a beach left, but one can hire a boat for diving and snorkeling. Candidasa may well be a base for discovering other sites, like Tenganan and Amlapura.
  • Padangbai with its narrow bay is the harbour from which one can travel by fast boat to Lombok, Gili Trawangan and Nusa Penida. The village has two sandy beaches, Blue Lagoon Beach and the more secluded Bias Tugel Beach. Tanah Ampo terminal at 7 kilometres from Padangbai proper has a natural harbour over ten metres deep that allows cruise-ships to anchor there. It also accommodates private yachts visiting Bali.
  • Putung – A village in hilly terrain famous for its views. On a clear day one can see Nusa Penida from the lookout. Also a centre of salak fruit cultivation, the best salak of Indonesia is grown here. From the village one can reach 40 metre high Jagasatru waterfall, the last couple of hundred meters a tough hike. Putung village is 11 kilometres by road from Candidasa and 17 kilometres from Amlapura.
  • Tenganan – A village of the Bali Aga, whose ancestors inhabited Bali before the Javanese introduced Hinduism. They preserve customs that are not found elsewhere in Bali. The Bali-Aga don’t have castes, husband and wife have the same status in the family, and men and women have the same rights to inherit. But if anyone marries with an outsider, he or she can’t continue to live in Tenganan. The village has a special way to make their traditional cloth, called gringsing or double ikat. It takes three years to make such a cloth, which is indispensable for special occasions like cremation and tooth-filing, as well as for festivities like Perang Pandan (see Events and Festivals below). Actually there are two Tenganan villages close together. The one most visited is Tenganan Pegeringsingan, probably referring to the double ikat technique. The other one is called Tenganan Dauh Tukad, which has the same traditions and where they also make the gringsing cloth. Both villages are located four kilometres inland from Candidasa, and 17 kilometres from Amlapura.

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Sights and Activities

Culture

  • Puri Kelodan - There are three royal palaces in the centre of Amlapura, a few minutes’ walk from each other. The oldest is Puri Kelodan, dating from before 1700 AD. Originally it’s name was Puri Amlaraja. But after Puri Gede Karangasem had been built, it was referred to as Puri Kelodan, because it is situated south of Puri Gede Karangasem.
  • Puri Gede Karangasem - The largest of the three royal palaces in Amlapura is Puri Gede Karangasem. It was built at the initiative of king I Gusti Anglura Made Karangasem, who named it Puri Kaleran. Early in the 19th century it was enlarged with the aid of an architect from Buleleng. It was then renamed Puri Ageng or Puri Gede Karangasem.
  • Puri Agung Karangasem - Puri Agung Karangasem is the newest royal palace, built by Anak Agung Gede Jelantik (king from 1890 to1908). The architecture of Puri Agung is a mixture of Balinese, Chinese and European style. The palace consists of three parts, the innermost one being the residential area of the king and his family. The outermost part, becingah, was the social area for art performances and receiving guests. In between is a garden with lotus ponds and two very old lychee trees. The king called his own house maskerdam from Amsterdam, and the house for his family London, showing how fond he was of his Dutch connections.
Taman Ujung

Taman Ujung

© theo1006

Taman Soekasada Ujung - The last king of Karangasem, I Gusti Bagus Jelantik or with his full title Anak Agung Anglurah Ketut Karangasem, was fond of water palaces. A year after his inauguration he ordered the construction of Taman Ujung, which was designed by three architects, a Dutchman, a Chinese and a Balinese. Originally the garden covered 400 hectares and it took 12 years to complete. Nowadays there only remain 10 hectares, the greater part having been returned to the local population through land reform. The garden was in disrepair because of the 1963 eruption of Gunung Agung and the 1979 earthquake, but has been restored to full splendour. It remains the private property of the royal family, but is open to the public from 7am to 5pm. The entrance fee is IDR 15,000 for domestic visitors and IDR 50,000 for foreigners. To the northwest a number of cottages has been built to accommodate overnight guests.

Tirta Gangga

Tirta Gangga

© theo1006

  • Tirta Gangga – The second water garden cum palace designed by the last king of Karangasem, Anak Agung Anglurah Ketut Karangasem (1887 – 1966). He himself took part in the construction, which took place from 1946 to 1948. The garden makes good use of a natural spring on the lower slope of Mount Agung. The name means Water of the Ganges, the holy river of India. The garden was severely damaged by the 1963 eruption of Mount Agung. For years only the most urgent repairs were done due to lack of funds. But in 2000 a grandson of the king, Widoere Djelantik, took the initiative to collect donations through a foundation “Donors of Tirtagangga”. Through his efforts Tirta Gangga can now be admired in all its splendour as intended by king Anglurah Ketut Karangasem. There is both budget and luxury accommodation near the garden for those who want to stay longer enjoying the serene atmosphere and beautiful surroundings.

Nature

Mount Agung

Mount Agung

© theo1006

  • Mount Agung – Gunung Agung is Bali’s highest and most sacred volcano. After the last eruption in 1963 its height is 3,014 metres. The volcano was active for almost a year and took the life of 1,148 people. Pura Besakih, on the southern slope of Mount Agung was not affected, because it is located on a prominance. There are three routes to the summit. Starting from the south-west at Besakih temple takes about six hours; there are several campsites on the trail. The approach from the Kedampal in the east is much longer, while the trail from Pura Pasar Agung in the south is shortest. Before planning to climb Mount Agung, make sure the mountain is not closed due to heightened activity. For more details see the Gunungbagging site.
  • Jagasatru Waterfall - A popular waterfall 40 metres high at about two kilometres from Putung village. From Puting head south to Pateh hamlet, then climb a narrow path of a couple of hundred metres.
  • Lower and Upper Yeh Labuh Waterfalls - Two waterfalls 200 metres from each other, hidden in the jungle, they are also referred to as Tibu Kresek and Tibu Tengah Falls. The hike to reach them starts at eight kilometres from Candidasa. From where the road ends it is then a difficult trek of more than a kilometre, climbing over rocks along the river bed.
  • Telaga Waya River gets its water from several springs south of Mount Agung. The river is a popular one for wild water rafting. Starting points are near Rendang village at 21 kilometres from Candidasa.
  • Lean Beach and Lipah Beach – Two black sand beaches between Amed and Jemeluk on Bali’s northeast coast. Here and elsewhere on the coast one can hire a boat for going fishing, snorkeling and diving.

Temples

  • Pura Agung Besakih – The largest temple complex of Bali, also referred to as the Mother Temple, is located at 1000 metres asl on the south-western slope of Mount Agung, Bali’s highest mountain. Archaeological discoveries have proven that this site was already a place of worship long before the introduction of Hinduism in Bali. The whole area of 12 square kilometres counts up to 80 temples. But the main ones are five, four of which are placed in four directions around the central one. The central temple is Pura Penataran Agung, dedicated to the worship of god Shiva. The four directions are relative to the summit of Mount Agung: Pura Gelap uphill, dedicated to god Ishvara; Pura Ulun Kulkul downhill, dedicated to god Mahadewa; Pura Kiduling Kereteg on the right when looking towards Mount Agung, dedicated to god Brahma; and Pura Batumadeg on the left, dedicated to god Vishnu. The huge number of visitors led the authorities to introduce strict rules. The services of a guide and wearing a sarung are obligatory, and included in the ticket price. Because of the size of the area, there is a free ojek service from the ticket office at Manik Mas parking to the central temple. There the guide will show one around, but non-worshipers are not allowed inside. Afterwards one is free to stroll and seek out other temples. Ticket prices are: foreign IDR 60,000; domestic IDR 30,000.
  • Pura Goa Raja – Besakih village has a lot of smaller temples. One of the more interesting is Pura Goa Raja, actually located in a cave. It is located a couple of hundred metres south of the mother temple and west of Kulkul temple. Cross the main road and climb down into the river ravine. It is said that the cave connected with Lawah Cave in Klungkung, but the connection was blocked when Mount Agung erupted in 1963.
  • Pura Tirta Pingit – Pura Tirta Pingit is located on Mount Agung half an hour’s walk uphill from Besakih Temple. Here are a water source with two pools and a meditation site for cleansing the body and the soul.
  • Pura Tegal Yeh Sah - About a kilometre uphill from Muncan village (the location of Telaga Waja rafting) is this temple with a source of the purest water of Bali. For the yearly ceremony Betara Tedun Kabeh at Besakih Temple, the sacred objects of that temple are cleansed here.
  • Pura Lempuyang Luhur - Lempuyang Luhur Temple is one of the six Sad Kahyangan Jagad, the six holiest places of Bali that are believed to provide spiritual as well as physical balance to the island. It is also thought to be the oldest temple of Bali, there having been a one at this location before the advent of Hinduism. The temple is located on the highest point of Mount Seraya, also named Mount Lempuyang, at 1,175 metres above sea level. It is a tough hike through virgin forest to reach it, but along the way and once there the views on Mount Agung and Lombok Strait are magnificent (provided the sky is clear). Actually there are numerous other temples on the hillside, one will pass several others before reaching Lempuyang Luhur Temple. A typical hike starts at the parking Terminal Utama Lempuyang at 313 metres asl. But one can save time and effort by hiring an ojek (motorcycle taxi) for the 3.4 kilometres to Penataran Agung Lempuyang Temple at 602 metres and Telaga Mas Temple at 703 metres. Then it’s trails through the forest passing Pasar Agung Lempuyang Temple, before one reaches the summit. You'll find that Lempuyang Luhur Temple is modest compared to the others you passed. There are other routes, the one via Pura Madya Lempuyang involving a stair of 1,700 steps.
  • Pura Silayukti - One of three temples on the peninsula that shelters the bay of Padangbai. The other temples are Pura Telaga Mas and Pura Tanjung Sari, the latter on the southern tip of the peninsula. The three are of historic interest, because the Hindu scholars Mpu Kuturan and Mpu Baradan lived and taught here in the 14th century. From the beach it’s an easy walk uphill to the temples for a fine view of the bay.

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Events and Festivals

  • Perang Pandan, also referred to as Mageret Pandan or Mekare-kare, is a mock battle in honour of the war god Indra and the ancestors. It is unique to the Bali-Aga villages of Tenganan, where it takes place yearly in the fifth month of the Balinese calendar, usually in June or July. All men of the village should participate taking their turn duelling one on one. They have to strike their opponent with a club made from thorny pandan leaves, while fending off his strikes with a rattan buckler. As they compete dressed only in a sarong and a headdress, this leads to some blood shed, which is believed to appease the gods. No harm done, the wounds are treated with traditional medicine and heal soon.
  • Perang Pisang - Another ceremony of the village Tenganan Dauh Tukad. The two young men who want to be chair and vice-chair of the youth organization have to prove they are worth it by running the gauntlet between other youths who throw bananas at them. This takes place in the third month of the local calendar and is concluded by a communal meal in the main temple attended by all who live in the village.
  • Mengibung - Mengibung is a communal meal, prepared together, that may accompany any festivity like a marriage or a cremation. People sit around a rice dish and a side dish, all taking their food from these same dishes. Although the tradition can be found elsewhere in Bali, it is especially popular in Karangasem and would demonstrate that all people are equal. The tradition is said to have started in 1692, when the king of Karangasem after a successful raid on Lombok took his food together with his warriors.

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Eat

  • Nasi Sela – During the 1970ies when rice was scarce, people started to mix it with cassava. Eventually this became a delicacy in many varieties, according to what other ingredients are mixed in.
  • Sate Lilit– Satay of tuna fish, seasoned the Karangasem way, savoured with sticky rice in palm leaves (tupat), a bowl of fish soup and a water spinach dish (plecing kangkung).

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Sleep

At Taman Ujung

Taman Surgawi Resort and Spa

At Tirta Gangga

  • Tirta Ayu Hotel and Restaurant - Upscale hotel accessed through and overlooking Tirta Gangga garden.
  • Dhangin Taman – Budget option right at the entrance gate of Tirta Gangga garden.

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This is version 49. Last edited at 8:54 on Mar 1, 20 by Utrecht. 3 articles link to this page.

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