28 June 2016

Klungkung's history tour

Klungkung regency was once the political and cultural nucleus for a Balinese kingdom that reached its heyday between the 14th and 17th centuries and had a territory that stretched from Lombok in West Nusa Tenggara to Blambangan in East Java. Klungkung is also recognized as one of the island’s most historic sites and is where Puputan Klungkung, the deadly and heroic fight against the Dutch colonial occupation, took place. However, compared to Denpasar, Badung and Gianyar, Bali’s most prominent tourist destinations, Klungkung is relatively unknown and lags behind in tourism promotion, not even being included in Bali’s top 10 destinations. The Klungkung regent has big plans to change this and has launched a comprehensive tourist promotion program through the Semarapura City Tour to explore the city’s history. In conjunction with Klungkung Festival 2016, the regent introduced the tour last April. The Semarapura City Tour is a walk around Semarapura, the capital of Klungkung regency, and takes in sites such as the Puputan Klungkung monument, Klungkung palace, Kertha Gosa hall of justice, Balai Budaya cultural center and the art market. Puputan Klungkung monument is 28 meters high and built in the form of the Lingga Yoni with 19 lotus carvings on its octagonal peak. With four entrances, the numbers in the architecture reflect the date of the Puputan Klungkung — April 28, 1908. Inside the towering monument are wall reliefs portraying the courageous acts of the Klungkung kingdom and its subjects while fighting the Dutch. Other scenes illustrate Klungkung’s history from pre-historic through to more recent times. Next on the tour is Puri Agung Semarapura, or the Palace of the God of Love. Built in the 17th century, the palace was once Bali’s most intricate and decorated royal residence, blending Balinese, Majapahit and Dutch architectural elements. Unfortunately, during Puputan Klungkung, the palace was almost entirely destroyed, except for its lavish kori agung ( split gate ). After series of renovations, the palace is now occupied by the present royal family and the king, Dewa Agung Cokorda Gede Agung, regularly chaperones visitors on the tour around his palace. The site of Puputan Klungkung, across from the palace, is now a park with public and sporting facilities being built to create a meeting point for Klungkung’s residents. The historical Kerta Gosa, or hall of justice, and its rectangular floating pavilion are popular spots on the tour and feature extensive Kamasan paintings on the ceiling portraying myths and legends, the astrological calendar and the kingdom’s legal system. Originally, the Klungkung king would go to Kerta Gosa to consult with his advisers, while during colonial rule, it was used for plaintiffs to await their judgment. The final stop on the tour is a visit to the vibrant Klungkung art market, where visitors can find stunning traditional Balinese textiles, such as tenun and songket, as well as other beautiful handicrafts.

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