Karangasem is a regency in Bali, Indonesia. Before the Dutch took over Bali, the regency used to be a flourishing kingdom. The majestically breathtaking regency was once devastated by the eruption of Mount Agung back in 1963, which saw about 1,900 casualties. Fast forward years later, it’s now a thriving tourist hotspot with plenty of attractions to offer. With an estimated population of about 400,000 people, Karangasem is also home to many major landmarks not to be missed.
To reach Karangasem, you have the options of renting a car with driver or taking any shuttle bus heading towards Karangasem. Depending on the service operators, you may need to haggle your price if you’re a foreigner, as they tend to overcharge tourists at times. The journey to Karangasem is pretty smooth, so there shouldn’t be much of a problem. For backpackers and adventurous travelers who love sightseeing and taking photos, these eight places should be listed in your itinerary:
1. Pura Besakih Temple
Pura Besakih is the most important, the largest and holiest temple of Hindu religion in Bali. Located in the village of Besakih on the slopes of Mount Agung in eastern Bali, the temple is built on six levels terraced up the slope. Its entrance is marked by a ‘candi bentar,’ which means split gateway. If you’re visiting at the right time, you get to witness one of the seventy festivals held at the complex. If you plan to visit Pura Besakih, watch out for syndicates offering a compulsory 'tour guide’ at exorbitant charges. Such syndicates would also offer to perform 'prayers’ for you and would request for tips at the end of the 'tour’. Avoid them at all cost.
Pura Besakih Temple
Address: Desa Besakih, Rendang, Besakih, Rendang, Kabupaten Karangasem, Bali 80863, Indonesia
Website: Pura Besakih Temple
2. Tirta Gangga
A former royal palace in eastern Bali, Indonesia, located about 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) from Karangasem, Tirta Gangga is basically a water palace with its name meaning ‘water from the Ganges’. The water palace is a maze of pools and fountains surrounded by a lush garden and stone carvings and statues, perfect for sightseeing and snapping a few photos. You can also swim at some of the pools here.
Address: Tirta Gangga, Ababi, Abang, Karangasem Regency, Bali, Indonesia
3. Puri Agung Karangasem
Ever wondered what it’s like to live like a Balinese royalty? Visit Puri Agung Karangasem, a palace in Amlapura, where beautifully sculpted panels and an impressive multitiered entry gate adorn the area, and inside you can take a peek at all of the royal bedrooms and a living room with furniture that was a gift from the Dutch royal family. If you’re lucky, you get to meet various royal relatives who can usually be found in the compound making offerings. Other than that, you can take a walk around the garden or feed the fish.
Puri Agung Karangasem
Address: Jl. Sultan Agung, Karangasem, Kec. Karangasem, Kabupaten Karangasem, Bali 80811, Indonesia
Website: Puri Agung Karangasem
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4. Bugbug Village
Immerse yourself in Balinese culture by visiting Bugbug Village, a traditional Balinese village. Here, you get to explore Balinese lifestyle such as watching a traditional sacred dance called Rejang, seeing farmers toiling in the field, witnessing beautiful religious or cultural ceremonies being performed, and being shown around the village by the locals.
Address: Jl. Raya Ulakan, Karangasem 80851, Indonesia
5. Ujung Water Palace
Another former palace in Karangasem, Ujung Water Palace is also known as Taman Ujung or Taman Soeksada. Located about 5 kilometers (3.1 mi) from Amlapura, the palace features various large pools and historic structures set against a backdrop of Mount Agung and the eastern shoreline. The complex has a combination of Balinese and European architecture throughout three large ponds, connected by long elegant bridges and pathways, making it the perfect spot to take several photos and marvel at the architecture. There’s an interesting pool that you need to check out, called the Kolam Dirah. The pool is meant for punishment of accused proponents of black magic or Balinese witchcraft known as ‘pangiwa’ and ‘leyaks’.
Ujung Water Palace
Address: Jl. Taman Ujung, Seraya Bar., Kec. Karangasem, Kabupaten Karangasem, Bali 80811, Indonesia
Website: Ujung Water Palace
6. Rumah Pohon Karangasem
Rumah Pohon Karangasem is basically a tree house that was recently built in 2015 with the intention of giving young travelers a great spot to take photos and appreciate the surroundings on a greater level, literally. If you’re up for some climbing, the view is worth the effort. There’s also a pyramid made of round bricks gracing the vicinity. For those who hate climbing the stairs, there’s also a bridge made of sturdy bamboo that leads you all the way to the top of the tree house.
Rumah Pohon Karangasem
Address: Tulamben, Kubu, Karangasem Regency, Bali 80852, Indonesia
7. Pura Penataran Agung Lempuyang
Located on the slopes of the mountain bearing the same name, this is not a public temple for the faint-hearted. Often enshrouded by misty clouds at the top, there are seven levels of temples altogether, linked by over 1,700 steps within jungle paths, which is approximately over 85 stories to walk up!
Pura Penataran Agung Lempuyang
Address: Jl. Pura Telaga Mas Lempuyang, Tri Buana, Kec. Karangasem, Kabupaten Karangasem, Bali 80852, Indonesia
8. Mount Agung
For recreation, there are two main routes up the mountain; one from Pura Besakih where you can proceed to the higher western peak, which starts at approximately 1,100 m (3,610 ft), and the second route, which is believed to take about five hours (one-way), and allows you to proceed to the southern peak and commences higher from Pura Pasar Agung, near Selat.
Address: Mount Agung, Jungutan, Bebandem, Karangasem Regency, Bali, Indonesia
Discover the wonders of Karangasem's past lives and glories
Despite Mount Agung’s rage back in 1963, which devastatingly killed about 1,900 people, Karangasem has successfully been restored back to its glory and is a thriving regency now with plenty to offer the world. The eight major landmarks mentioned are a testament to the regency’s past lives, which makes them each a must-visit.
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