The busy street of Klungkung and the nearby village of craftsmen and painters are perfect for an immersion of the best of Bali’s arts and history.
Just 16km fro Gianyar, KLUNGKUNG, also known by its older name of Semarapura, is a bustling town, with plenty of sights. Its highlights are the remains of the royal palace, collectively, known as the Taman Gili, which include to ancient Kerta Gosa painted ceiling. These murals are the only serving examples of classical wayang painting in situ on the island. The underwear major restorations in the 1930s, and in 1960 and 1982, and although the pictures are decidedly grubby, located on the corner of the main Klungkung crossroads, they remain required viewing. The centre of modern classical-style Balinese painting is at Kamasan, a few kilometers south of town, while the Gunarse Museum of Modern Classical Arts to the west of Klungkung houses a moderately diverting collection. South of Klungkung, the sleepy village of Gelgel is these days a shadowy remnant of the thriving royal capital that rule Bali for three hundred years.
Some History – following the Majapahit conquest of Bali under the leadership of gajah Mada in 1343, the conquerors set up a court in Samprangan, moving in 1400 to Gelgel, just south of modern Klungkung. From this base, Bali was ruled by a dynasty appointed by Gajah Mada, each rule taking the title Dewa Agung (Great good). When the Majapahit Empire in Java collapsed in 1515, large numbers of Javanese royalty and exile swelled to community in Bali. In 1550, when Batu Renggong become Dewa Agung, his area of influence increased and the Gelgel court flourished, becoming a centre for art, literature and cultural. However, decline set in gradually, and under the rule of Batu Renggung’s grandson, Dewa Agung Di Made, control of the empire was gradually lost. Towards the end of the seventieth century, Di Made’s son, Gusti Sidemen moved the palaces and the court to Klungkung, believing that the decline of the kingdom was due to a curse upon the Gelgel palace. But it was downhill dewa agung of Klungkung never again reached such influential heights.
The Dutch attacked southern Bali in 1906 and by 1908 had subdued the entire kingdom except Klungkung and Bangli. Gelgel was destroyed. And when the Dutch set up their weapons outside the Semarapura palace in Klungkung on April 28, 1908, the Dewa Agung led to hundred numbers of his family and court in the traditional puputan. When he marched into the guns and was killed, six for his wives surrounded his body and stabbed themselves with their kris. The rest of the entourage were either shot or killed them. The monument opposite the Taman Gili in Klungkung commemorates the puputan. Surviving members of the Klungkung royal family were then exiled to Lombok and didn’t return until the 1920s.
The Town – Klungkung centers on a crossroads, market by the dramatic white Kanda Patsari statue, which guards the foul cardinal directions. Beside it is the Taman Gili, with the puputan monument opposite, the central market tucked away just to the east, behind the main street, and the bus and bemo terminal about a kilometers south.
Practicalities – the main bus and bemo terminal, Terminal Kelod, also known as terminal Galiron after the market the bustles around it, is about 1km south of the town centre; most public transport stops or passes trough here. In addition, a few bemos pass along Jalan Gunung Rinjani just north of the main crossroads, where you can pick up, bemos for Rendang and Besakih.
The Klungkung government tourist office is in the same building as the Museum Daerah Semarapura, Jalan Untung Surapati 2 (Mos – Thurs 7.30am-3.30pm, Fri 7am-1.15pm, Call 0366/21448). Across the road from the Kerta Gosa is the wartel, while the post office is just west of the museum on Jalan Untung Surapati. Several banks along Jalan Diponogoro to the east of the main crossroad change money, and there’s a BNI ATM in the main street with lings to the Visa MasterCard and Cirrus Network.
Most people visit Klungkung as a day-trip from the Candi Dasa but if you want to stay, the base accommodation is at Loji Ramayana in the eastern part of town, which asa simple rooms with attached bathrooms set beck from the road in a courtyard with a small restaurants. Klungkung has plenty of cheap places to eat: on Jalan Nakula, Bali Indah at no. 1 and Sumba Rasa at no.5 both have small menus written and English and are used to foreign diners. Local people eat at the inexpensive warung gathered on Jalan Gunung Rinjani. There’s Supermarket, Cahaya Melati, on Jalan Puputan opposite the entrance to the Taman Gili, next to the wartel.