5 Historical Buildings You Must Visit in Bali
1. Tirta Gangga
Tirta Gangga, which means “water of the Ganges” is one of famous tourist destinations in Eastern Bali, about 5 kilometers from Karangasem. Tirta Gangga is a former royal palace and was built in 1946 by late King of Karangasem, Anak Agung Anglurah Ketut Karangasem, but the palace was destroyed almost entirely by the eruption of nearby Mount Agung in 1963.
Tirta Gangga water palace is a maze of pools and fountains surrounded by a lush garden and stone carvings and statues. The one-hectare complex features a number of swimming pools and koi-filled ornamental ponds, although the main attraction is an impressive 11-tiered fountain. Water in Tirta Gangga is very clear and refreshing because it is sourced directly from natural fountain. Hindus also believed that water from the fountain is a holy water, so it is often used in religious ceremonies.
2. Besakih Temple
Besakih Temple is a pura complex in the village of Besakih on the slopes of Mount Agung in eastern Bali, Indonesia. It is the most important, the largest and holiest temple of Balinese Hinduism, and one of a series of Balinese temples. Perched nearly 1000 meters up the side of Gunung Agung, it is an extensive complex of 23 separate but related temples with the largest and most important being Pura Penataran Agung. The temple is built on six levels, terraced up the slope. The entrance is marked by a candi bentar (split gateway), and beyond it the Kori Agung is the gateway to the second courtyard.
The precise origins of the temple are unclear but its importance as a holy site almost certainly dates from prehistoric times. The stone bases of Pura Penataran Agung and several other temples resemble megalithic stepped pyramids, which date back at least 2,000 years.
It was certainly used as a Hindu place of worship from 1284 when the first Javanese conquerors settled in Bali. By the 15th century, Besakih had become a state temple of the powerful Gelgel dynasty.
3. Tirta Empul
Tirta Empul temple is a Hindu Balinese water temple located near the town of Tampaksiring, Bali, Indonesia. The temple compound consists of a petirtaan or bathing structure, famous for its holy spring water, where Balinese Hindus go to for ritual purification. The temple pond has a spring which gives out fresh water regularly, which Balinese Hindus consider to be holy or amritha. Tirta Empul means Holy Spring in Balinese.
Tirta Empul Temple was founded around a large water spring in 962 A.D. during the Warmadewa dynasty (10th-14th centuries). The name of the temple comes from the ground water source named “Tirta Empul”. The spring is the source of the Pakerisan river. The temple is divided into three sections: Jaba Pura (front yard), Jaba Tengah (central yard) and Jeroan (inner yard). Jaba Tengah contains 2 pools with 30 showers which are named accordingly: Pengelukatan, Pebersihan and Sudamala dan Pancuran Cetik (poison).
The temple is dedicated to Vishnu, another Hindu god name for the supreme consciousness Narayana. On a hill overlooking the temple, a modern villa was built for President Sukarno’s visit in 1954. The villa is currently a rest house for important guests.
4. Tampaksiring Presidential Palace
The Tampaksiring Palace is one of 6 Presidential Palaces of Indonesia, it is located in Tampaksiring, Gianyar Regency, Bali. Built in 1957 and finished in 1963, unlike other presidential palaces of Indonesia that mostly were inherited from the colonial period of Dutch East Indies, Istana Tampaksiring was built after the independence of Indonesia, and built not in colonial Indies Empire style, but in modernism combined with elements of Balinese architecture.
The buildings of the complex are scattered around on an area covering 19 hectare. The main palace building are built on a higher ground overlooking Tampaksiring Tirta Empul Temple and Mount Agung.
The idea to construct a new Indonesian Presidential Palace was initiated by the first president Sukarno. In the mid 1950s, as the newly independent state, Sukarno wished to showcase Indonesian culture to visiting state guests, and the fame of Bali as a cultural and natural attraction. The construction was prompted by the need to provide the lodging or villa befitting very important person, state guest, royalties, heads of state or heads of government during their stay in Bali.
Previously in the location stood a guesthouse belongs to the king of Gianyar. The guestshouse was often used by visiting foreign dignitaries, guests and officials of East Indies. Sukarno visited the location several times in 1955, learning Sukarno’s interest, the King of Gianyar give the land and building to the Government of Indonesia. In 1957 Sukarno appointed R.M. Soedarsono to design a new palace and the preparation commenced, thus the old guesthouse of Gianyar King was demolished. The construction stated in 1957 and finished in 1963.
5. Gunung Kawi
Gunung Kawi is an ancient Hindu temple complex situated on the Pakrisan River in Tampaksiring, north-east of Ubud. Access to the temple is down a flight of around 300 steps, but the rice terrace views along the way make up for it.
The complex features 10 giant statues carved into the cliff-face, thought to depict the royal family of the Udayana dynasty. Crossing a bridge at the bottom of the valley, visitors can see another group of stone monuments carved on the left side of the main temple across the river. The best time to visit Gunung Kawi is early in the morning.