Karangasem is a regency (administrative division) located in the eastern part of Bali. It is known for its stunning natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and historical significance. Let's explore each aspect in more detail:
Karangasem is characterized by diverse landscapes that range from picturesque coastlines to lush green rice terraces and majestic volcanic mountains. Some of the notable natural attractions in the area include:
Mount Agung: This is Bali's highest and most revered volcano, standing at 3,031 meters (9,944 feet) above sea level. It is an active stratovolcano and plays a significant role in Balinese culture and spirituality.
Tirta Gangga: A beautiful water palace featuring ornamental ponds, fountains, and lush gardens. The complex is a serene and scenic place to visit, offering a glimpse into traditional Balinese architecture and landscaping.
Taman Ujung: Another water palace known for its grandeur and architectural beauty. It was built by the King of Karangasem and offers stunning views of the surrounding landscapes.
White Sand Beach (Pasir Putih): This secluded beach is renowned for its soft white sand and clear turquoise waters, making it an excellent spot for relaxation and swimming.
Karangasem is deeply rooted in Balinese culture, which is a unique blend of Hinduism and local traditions. The regency is home to various temples, rituals, and ceremonies that play a central role in the lives of its people. Some aspects of the local culture include:
Temples: Numerous temples dot the landscape of Karangasem, each with its own significance and purpose. Pura Besakih, also known as the "Mother Temple," is one of the most important and holiest temples in Bali and is located in the Karangasem regency.
Traditional Dance and Music: Balinese dance and music are integral parts of the local culture. You may have the opportunity to witness traditional performances that depict stories from Hindu epics like the Ramayana and Mahabharata.
Art and Craftsmanship: The people of Karangasem are skilled in various arts and crafts, including intricate wood carvings, paintings, and textiles. Visiting local workshops and galleries can provide insight into these artistic traditions.
Karangasem has a rich historical background, and its royal lineage played a crucial role in shaping the region's identity. Some key historical points include:
Kingdom of Karangasem: The regency was once the seat of the powerful Karangasem Kingdom, which thrived from the late 17th century until the early 20th century. The kingdom was known for its strong influence in eastern Bali and significant cultural contributions.
Dutch Colonial Influence: During the colonial era, the Dutch had an impact on the region, and remnants of colonial architecture and infrastructure can still be seen today.
Agung Volcano Eruptions: Mount Agung has erupted multiple times throughout history, leaving a mark on the landscape and influencing the local culture and beliefs.
This regency capital changed its name from Karangasem to Amlapura in 1963 after Mount Agung erupted in the hope that a similar eruption will never again take place.
Besakih Temple, also known as Pura Besakih, is a significant and sacred Hindu temple complex located on the slopes of Mount Agung.
Importance: Besakih Temple is considered the holiest and most important temple in Bali. It is often referred to as the "Mother Temple of Bali" as it is a complex of 23 separate temples, representing different aspects of Balinese Hinduism.
Mount Agung: The temple complex is situated at an altitude of around 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) on the southwestern slopes of Mount Agung, which is the highest volcano in Bali and is considered a sacred mountain by the Balinese people.
Architecture: The temple complex consists of several levels, with each level containing different temples dedicated to various deities. The main temple is called Pura Penataran Agung, which is dedicated to Shiva, the destroyer god in Hinduism.
Ceremonies and Festivals: Besakih Temple plays a crucial role in the religious and cultural life of the Balinese people. Numerous ceremonies, festivals, and religious processions take place at the temple throughout the year, attracting visitors and devotees from all over Bali and beyond.
Visitors: The temple is open to visitors, but it's essential to respect the sacred nature of the site and adhere to the dress code and guidelines set by the temple authorities.
History: The history of Besakih Temple is rich and shrouded in legend and myth. The exact origins of the temple are not well-documented, but it holds significant historical and cultural importance in Bali. Here are some key points about the history of Besakih Temple:
Ancient Origins: The temple's roots are believed to date back to prehistoric times when early animistic beliefs were practiced in Bali. Over the centuries, as Hinduism spread to the island, the temple complex evolved and grew in prominence.
Hindu Influence: The major shift in Bali's religious landscape occurred around the 8th century when Indian Hindu influences began to reach the island. Hinduism merged with existing local beliefs and traditions, giving rise to the unique form of Balinese Hinduism practiced today.
Agama Tirta Tradition: Besakih Temple is part of the "Agama Tirta" tradition, which focuses on water as a purifying element in religious rituals. This tradition is deeply rooted in Balinese Hinduism and is associated with the idea of maintaining harmony with the gods and nature.
Mount Agung's Influence: The location of the temple on the slopes of Mount Agung, an active volcano, adds to its spiritual significance. Mount Agung is believed to be the dwelling place of the gods and is considered the center of the universe in Balinese cosmology.
Volcanic Eruptions: The temple has faced challenges throughout its history, including several eruptions of Mount Agung. The lava flows from eruptions in the past have threatened the temple, but it has been rebuilt and restored each time.
Empires and Royal Patronage: Various Balinese empires and ruling dynasties played a significant role in the development and patronage of Besakih Temple. They contributed to its expansion and maintenance, elevating its importance in Balinese society.
Earthquake of 1917: A devastating earthquake in 1917 severely damaged many temples in Bali, including Besakih Temple. The earthquake was seen as a significant spiritual event, and the rebuilding process further solidified the temple's central role in Balinese Hinduism.
Today's Complex: The present-day Besakih Temple is the result of centuries of continuous expansion and renovation. The complex comprises multiple temples of varying sizes and importance, representing the various aspects of Balinese Hinduism.
Throughout its history, Besakih Temple has endured challenges, including natural disasters and political changes, but it has remained a symbol of spiritual resilience and cultural identity for the Balinese people. It continues to be a vital pilgrimage site and a center for religious activities, drawing both local and international visitors seeking to experience the rich traditions and unique spirituality of Bali.
Mount Agung, also known as Gunung Agung, is a sacred and active stratovolcano. It is the highest peak on the island, standing at an elevation of 3,031 meters (9,944 feet) above sea level. The volcano holds immense spiritual significance for the Balinese people and plays a central role in their culture and religious beliefs.
Spiritual Significance: Mount Agung is considered the "navel of the world" by the Balinese, and it is the most sacred mountain on the island. It is believed to be the dwelling place of the gods and goddesses, and its slopes are adorned with many temples, including the Mother Temple of Besakih, which is the largest and most important Hindu temple complex in Bali.
Eruptions: Mount Agung is an active volcano, and throughout history, it has erupted numerous times. The eruptions have sometimes been devastating, causing significant damage to nearby areas and leading to evacuations of local residents. The most notable eruption in recent history occurred in 1963 when the volcano erupted violently, resulting in a catastrophic event with significant loss of life and destruction of surrounding villages.
Monitoring: Due to its active nature and potential for hazardous eruptions, Mount Agung is closely monitored by volcanologists and the Indonesian authorities. They keep track of seismic activity, gas emissions, and other indicators to predict and manage volcanic events and provide early warnings to the local population.
Tourist Attraction: Despite its potentially dangerous nature, Mount Agung is also a popular tourist destination. Hiking to the summit is a challenging and rewarding experience for many adventurers, offering stunning views of Bali and the surrounding islands. However, tourists must follow safety guidelines and respect the religious significance of the volcano.
2017-2019 Eruptions: In late 2017, Mount Agung experienced increased volcanic activity, leading to several eruptions. These eruptions caused disruptions to air travel, affecting thousands of travelers to and from Bali. The heightened activity continued into 2018, with ash clouds and lava flows being observed. After a period of relative calm, the volcano erupted again in 2019.
A Bali Aga village ( Bali Aga - descendants of the original Balinese who lived on this island before the influx of Javanese courtiers and artists of the Majapahit exodus from Java, between the 12th and 14th centuries).
This immaculately kept village is located 5 kilometers North of Candidasa. They are famous for weaving the geringsing, a cloth that may take years to weave as the patterns of the textile are dyed to their final design whilst still in the thread stage.
The conservative Bali Aga does not allow members of the village to marry outside of their community. Youngsters wishing to do so are banned from taking part in the intrinsic ceremonies. Their religious calendar is quite different to that of the rest of Bali. The villages of Tenganan and Dauh Tukad have many incredible ceremonies between June and July.
The palace is reflecting a number of foreign architectural influences in the late 9th century by the king Anak Agung Gede Jelantik. This palace still maintains the royal bedroom with Dutch furnishings, as well as various meeting and ceremonial halls. Royal photographs of the late King and family and various clothes are also on display.
Taman Ujung, also known as Taman Sukasada Ujung or Ujung Water Palace, is a historical and cultural landmark located in the eastern part of Bali. It is situated in the village of Seraya, near the town of Amlapura in the Karangasem Regency.
The palace is renowned for its stunning architecture, water features, and picturesque surroundings, making it a popular tourist destination in Bali.
Taman Ujung was built in the early 20th century during the reign of the last Raja of Karangasem, Anak Agung Anglurah Ketut Karangasem. Construction began in 1909 and was completed in 1921. The architect of the water palace is believed to be a Dutch van Den Hentz and a Chinese Loto Ang.
The purpose of Taman Ujung was to serve as a retreat and a place to welcome important guests and dignitaries. The palace's design is an excellent example of a combination of Balinese and European architectural styles.
Unfortunately, the palace was severely affected by the eruption of Mount Agung in 1963 and later damaged by an earthquake in 1979.
Despite these natural disasters, efforts were made to restore and preserve the palace, ensuring that its historical and cultural significance would not be lost.
Architecture and Features:
Taman Ujung features a blend of Balinese and European architectural influences. The three main areas of the palace are the water complex, the complex of many water pools, and the complex of many terraces.
Water Complex: The water complex consists of pools, bridges, and pavilions. The main highlight is the large rectangular pond with a series of stepping stones leading to the central pavilion. The pond is surrounded by lush gardens and lotus-filled waterways.
Complex of Many Water Pools: This area comprises several interconnected pools and fountains, all adorned with intricate sculptures and carvings. The arrangement of these pools and the surrounding landscape create a sense of tranquility and harmony.
Complex of Many Terraces: The terraced gardens are beautifully landscaped and offer sweeping views of the surrounding countryside and the ocean in the distance.
Visiting Taman Ujung today allows tourists to experience the grandeur of the past and admire the architectural beauty of this historical site. However, visitors are advised to respect the cultural heritage of the place and follow any guidelines set forth for preservation and conservation.
Tirta Gangga is a famous water palace and garden located in the village of Ababi in the Karangasem regency of Bali. It is renowned for its intricate water gardens, stunning architecture, and cultural significance.
Tirta Gangga, which means "Water of the Ganges," was built in the early 20th century by the ruling king of Karangasem, Anak Agung Anglurah Ketut Karangasem. The palace was constructed in 1948 and served as a royal retreat and a place for the king and his family to relax and meditate.
The king, who was known as a lover of arts and culture, envisioned the gardens as a tranquil and harmonious place for his family and subjects to enjoy. He sought to create a spiritual haven that embodied the beauty of Balinese architecture, surrounded by lush greenery and complemented by the soothing sounds of flowing water.
The construction of Tirta Gangga took several years to complete. The palace features a series of ponds, fountains, stone carvings, and statues, all arranged in a unique blend of Balinese and Chinese architectural styles.
The complex incorporates the natural landscape, including rice paddies and hills, adding to its aesthetic appeal.
Features and Layout:
Tirta Gangga is divided into three main areas:
The Lower Level: This section is the main highlight of Tirta Gangga, featuring a large rectangular pond filled with clear spring water. The pond is surrounded by stepping stones, allowing visitors to walk across and enjoy the scenic views.
The water in this lower pond is believed to be sacred, and visitors can feed the fish that inhabit the waters.
The Middle Level: Here, you'll find another set of pools and fountains, along with beautifully designed gardens and stone carvings. The centerpiece of this level is a multi-tiered fountain, which serves as a symbol of prosperity and abundance in Balinese culture.
The Upper Level: The topmost part of Tirta Gangga houses the former resting place of the king, which is not accessible to the public. However, visitors can still enjoy the panoramic views of the surrounding landscape from this vantage point.
Today, Tirta Gangga is open to the public as a popular tourist attraction. Visitors can explore the gardens, walk across the stepping stones, and appreciate the unique blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage that this water palace represents.
Amed is a coastal area located in the Karangasem regency. It is a popular tourist destination known for its stunning natural beauty and relaxed atmosphere.
Scenic Beauty: Amed is renowned for its picturesque landscapes, including black sand beaches, lush hills, and stunning sunrises over the sea. The area is also dotted with traditional fishing boats, adding to its charm.
Diving and Snorkeling: The waters around Amed are rich in marine life, making it a paradise for divers and snorkelers. There are several dive sites where you can explore vibrant coral reefs and encounter various species of fish and other marine creatures.
Traditional Fishing Villages: Amed is home to several traditional fishing villages, and you can experience the local way of life and interact with friendly fishermen.
Relaxed Atmosphere: Compared to some of the more crowded and touristy areas in Bali, Amed offers a quieter and more laid-back atmosphere, making it an ideal destination for those seeking relaxation and tranquility.
Mount Agung: Amed lies in the shadow of Mount Agung, Bali's highest and most revered volcano. While Mount Agung itself may not be directly accessible from Amed, its imposing presence adds to the overall scenic appeal of the area.
Accommodations and Dining: Amed has a range of accommodations, from budget-friendly guesthouses to more luxurious resorts. There are also various restaurants and warungs (local eateries) offering fresh seafood and Indonesian cuisine.
Lempuyang Temple, also known as Pura Lempuyang Luhur or simply Lempuyang, is one of the most important and revered Hindu temples in Bali. It is situated on the eastern side of the island, on the slopes of Mount Lempuyang, and is a significant spiritual and cultural site for the Balinese people.
The exact origins of Lempuyang Temple are shrouded in myths and legends, making it difficult to pinpoint an exact date of establishment. According to local folklore, the temple's existence dates back over a thousand years, and it is believed to have been built in the 11th century by Empu Kuturan, a Javanese sage who played a crucial role in the early development of Hinduism on Bali.
Architecture and Structure:
Lempuyang Temple is a complex of several temples located at different altitudes on the slopes of Mount Lempuyang. Visitors have to climb a series of over 1,700 steps to reach the main temple, which sits at the highest point of the complex. Along the way, there are several other smaller temples, which are also part of the pilgrimage journey.
The most famous and iconic feature of Lempuyang Temple is the split gate, known as "Candi Bentar" or "Pura Penataran Agung Lempuyang." This gate is often photographed, with the majestic Mount Agung in the background, creating a breathtaking sight.
Lempuyang Temple holds immense spiritual significance for the Balinese Hindu community. It is one of Bali's nine directional temples, strategically positioned to protect the island from evil spirits and negative energies. Each of these directional temples serves as a guardian for a specific region of the island.
The temple attracts both locals and tourists, with many Balinese Hindus undertaking a pilgrimage to Lempuyang to seek blessings and purification. The climb up the temple complex is seen as a symbol of self-purification and dedication to the divine.
In recent years, Lempuyang Temple has gained popularity as a tourist destination due to its stunning views and unique photo opportunities, particularly the "Gate of Heaven" shot with the reflection of the temple gate against the Mount Agung backdrop. The temple's popularity has led to a surge in visitors, and it has become a prominent spot for travelers seeking a spiritual experience or an Instagram-worthy picture.
Remember that cultural and religious sites like Lempuyang Temple should be visited with respect and reverence. If you plan to visit, it is essential to dress modestly and adhere to any guidelines set by the temple authorities to preserve its sanctity.
Tulamben is a popular diving destination located on the northeast coast of Bali. It is renowned for its stunning underwater scenery and the presence of the USAT Liberty shipwreck, making it a paradise for divers of all levels.
USAT Liberty Shipwreck: The USAT Liberty was a United States Army transport ship that was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine during World War II in 1942. The ship was towed to the coast of Tulamben in an attempt to salvage it, but a volcanic eruption in 1963 pushed it back into the water, where it now lies about 30 meters offshore. The wreck sits at a depth ranging from about 9 to 30 meters and is covered with vibrant coral growth, making it a fantastic site for both wreck diving and marine life observation.
Diving Conditions: Tulamben offers relatively easy and accessible diving conditions, making it suitable for all levels of divers. The water temperature is generally warm, ranging from 27°C to 30°C (80°F to 86°F), so a 3mm wetsuit is usually sufficient. Visibility can vary but is often good, ranging from 15 to 30 meters (50 to 100 feet).
Marine Life: The Liberty shipwreck attracts a diverse array of marine life, including various species of fish, crustaceans, and invertebrates. You can expect to see schools of fusiliers, jackfish, and sergeant majors, as well as larger species like bumphead parrotfish, groupers, and even occasional reef sharks. The shipwreck and nearby reefs are also home to numerous colorful coral species, adding to the overall beauty of the underwater landscape.
Diving Sites: While the Liberty shipwreck is the main attraction, Tulamben offers several other dive sites worth exploring. Some popular spots include the Coral Garden, Drop-Off, and the Tulamben Wall. These sites cater to divers of various experience levels and interests, from macro photography enthusiasts to those looking for larger marine encounters.
Dive Centers: Tulamben has several reputable dive centers that offer various services, including equipment rental, guided dives, and dive courses for beginners who want to get certified or experienced divers looking to advance their skills.
Padangbai's main attraction is its ferry terminal, where boats depart regularly for the Gili Islands and Lombok. The fast boats and ferries make it convenient for tourists to access these neighboring destinations.
Diving and Snorkeling: The waters around Padangbai offer excellent opportunities for diving and snorkeling. The nearby Blue Lagoon and Bias Tugel Beach are popular spots for exploring underwater marine life.
White Sand Beach: This picturesque beach is located within walking distance from Padangbai's main town area and is a great place to relax and enjoy the coastal scenery.
Pura Silayukti Temple, also known as Pura Silayukti Padangbai, is a sacred Hindu temple located on the eastern coast of Bali, in the town of Padangbai. The temple holds significant religious and historical importance for the local Balinese community and attracts both religious devotees and tourists interested in experiencing Bali's cultural heritage.
Religious Significance: Pura Silayukti is an important place of worship for the local Hindu population. It is dedicated to the worship of Lord Shiva, one of the principal deities in Hinduism. Balinese Hindus come here to pay their respects, make offerings, and conduct religious ceremonies.
Location: The temple is perched on a small hill overlooking the picturesque town of Padangbai and the ocean beyond. Its elevated position offers visitors stunning views of the surrounding landscape and the coastal area.
Unique Architecture: The temple's architecture reflects traditional Balinese temple design with intricate stone carvings and colorful decorations. Balinese temples are often known for their elaborate and artistic structures, and Pura Silayukti is no exception.
Historical Connection: Pura Silayukti has a historical connection to the ancient Javanese-Balinese poet Empu Kuturan. He is credited with shaping Bali's unique religious and cultural identity and played a significant role in the spread of Hinduism on the island.
Meditation and Contemplation: Besides its religious significance, Pura Silayukti provides a serene and tranquil setting for meditation and contemplation. Visitors can enjoy a peaceful atmosphere and take in the beauty of the surroundings.
Cultural Experience: For tourists interested in experiencing Balinese culture and spirituality, a visit to Pura Silayukti offers valuable insights into the island's religious practices and traditions.
Visiting Pura Silayukti Temple can be a spiritually enriching experience for those interested in Hinduism and Balinese culture. As with any sacred site, visitors should observe appropriate dress codes and show respect for the religious practices taking place at the temple. Additionally, it's always a good idea to check for any specific guidelines or restrictions before visiting, as temple rules and regulations can vary from place to place.
Two villages which are renowned for village handicrafts such as stone carving, woven crafts and traditional costumes.
Balina Beach is a beach near Manggis with white sand and clear water, good for swimming and fishing. Sunsets from this vantage point are very romantic.
This area is famous for the Salak or snake fruit plantations. Panoramic views of terraced rice paddy fields and the blue sea beyond afford good opportunities for avid photographers.
Ceremonies and rituals held at this village encompass trance dances, battles using thorny pandan leaves and decorated with spectacular offerings.
Sidemen is known for its picturesque landscapes of rice terraces, lush greenery, and traditional Balinese villages. It is a serene and less crowded alternative to some of Bali's more famous tourist spots like Ubud. The area is perfect for travelers seeking a peaceful retreat and a chance to experience the local Balinese culture.
The terraced rice fields offer opportunities for scenic walks, trekking, and cycling, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of Bali's countryside. Additionally, Sidemen is renowned for its traditional crafts, such as weaving and woodcarving, which are integral parts of the local culture.
The scenic road leading from Amed to Seraya is a picturesque route. This narrow road winds along the eastern coast of the island, offering stunning views of the ocean and cliffs. Here are some key highlights and characteristics of this route:
Coastal Views: The road runs close to the coastline, providing breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean. The turquoise waters contrast beautifully with the lush greenery of the surrounding landscape.
Cliffside Drive: One of the most captivating aspects of this road is the drive along the cliffs. The road hugs the cliff edges, and as you navigate the twists and turns, you'll be treated to awe-inspiring vistas.
Quiet and Serene: Unlike some of the more popular tourist areas in Bali, this road is relatively quiet and less crowded. It's an ideal route for those seeking a tranquil and serene driving experience.
Local Villages: Along the way, you may come across some small local villages, where you can experience the authentic Balinese culture and lifestyle.
Photography Opportunities: If you enjoy photography, this road offers plenty of opportunities to capture stunning landscapes and coastal scenes.
Caution: While the views are undeniably beautiful, the road can be narrow and winding, so exercise caution while driving. Drive slowly and be mindful of oncoming traffic, especially on blind curves.
Time and Distance: The road from Amed to Seraya is not exceptionally long, but due to its narrowness and winding nature, it may take longer to cover the distance than you might expect. Allow ample time for your journey and enjoy the leisurely drive.
Labukan Amuk is famous for its coral reef view. Most of the tourists do the snorkeling around the Labuhan Amuk area. In this village you also can find the new Odyssey Submarine that make it easy for you to see the underwater coral without the fear that your body will be scratched by coral. With this submarine, the visitors can see various coral and fish. The submarine can reach about 35 meters under sea level for about 45 minutes.
Bukit Jambul is a popular tourist destination located in the eastern part of Bali. It is a scenic hilltop area known for its breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes. The name "Bukit Jambul" translates to "Hill of the Creeping Grapevine" in Indonesian, which might be attributed to the lush vegetation found in the region.
Panoramic Views: The main highlight of Bukit Jambul is the stunning vistas it offers. Visitors can enjoy sweeping views of the terraced rice fields, lush green valleys, and distant mountains. The area is especially picturesque during sunrise and sunset.
Rice Terraces: The terraced rice fields in the region showcase the traditional agricultural practices of Bali and create a beautiful mosaic on the slopes of the hills.
Cultural Activities: Some tours and experiences in Bukit Jambul include opportunities to engage with the local culture, such as witnessing traditional dance performances or visiting nearby villages.
Dining: There are restaurants and cafes in the area that allow visitors to enjoy a meal while taking in the scenic views.
Serene Environment: Bukit Jambul is often regarded as a peaceful and serene spot, away from the more bustling tourist areas of Bali. It's an excellent place to unwind and appreciate the natural beauty of the island.
This list is for sure not complete. We welcome your comments and encourage you to share additional touristic, cultural, or historical facts about this regency. Your insights will benefit other readers visiting this page.