It looks like 2024 is the year that Bali tourists get off the beaten track.
Travel data shows that more tourists are visiting the stunning Kertha Gosa Palace in Karangasem Regency, and this is great news for travelers and the region.
East Bali is one of the less visited areas of the island. Best known for destinations like Sidemen and Amed, tourists have been notably slow to head eastward after discovering the beaches out the south and the jungles of the midlands.
Yet, there is a wealth of culture, history, and nature to discover in the East.
One of the most iconic cultural landmarks in East Bali is Kertha Gosa Palace. A gorgeous example of Balinese architecture, the palace and pavilion was built in the 18th Century by Dewa Agung Gusti Sideman.
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To translate, Kertha Gosa in Balinese refers to the place where the king meets with his ministries to discuss questions of justice.
The name “Kertha Gosa” is derived from Sanskrit, where “Kertha” translates to mean peaceful, and “Gosa” stems from the word “Gosita,” which refers to an announcement. The pavilion, palace, and grounds can be reached within a one-hour drive of central Ubud, making it a fanatic day trip for history buffs and culture vultures.
Travel data from Kertha Gosa for January shows that the number of visits is increasing despite it being a low season.
The Head of the Tourism Industry Division of the Klungkung Tourism Office, Kadek Angga Wijaya, said the average number of visits reached 45 people per day.
Wijaya noted that European tourists are particularly interested in the historical side of Kertha Gosa and learning more about its classic architecture.
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Although Kerta Gosa is one of the most significant cultural and historical landmarks in Bali, it is often overlooked in favor of Ubud Palace, Tanah Lot, or Uluwatu Temple, which sit closer to resort hotspots. Yet, tourists are missing out on so many hidden gems.
Kerta Gosa is an artistic and architectural masterpiece. The walls and ceiling of the palace and pavilions are painted in the traditional Kamasan style.
Kasman is a village in Klungkung Regency that has been home to some of the finest artists on the island for centuries.
Kasman paintings are typically direct wayang, the traditional Balinese shadow puppet figures. The scenes on display at Kerta Gosa have been inspired by chapters from Hinduu epic tales like the Mahabharata and the Ramayana.
What makes Kerta Gosa so special is that it is the last of the buildings still standing after the inner courtyards of Semarapura Palace were destroyed in the Puputan Klungkung in 1908 when Dewa Agung Jambe lost the battle.
The relics still standing to this day are Kerta Gosa, the Bale Kambang floating meeting hall, and the Taman Gili Gardens.
It is not only Kerta Gosa that has history-loving tourists excited. Gunung Kawi in Tampaksiring, Ginayar Regency, is another historical hidden gem.
The ancient landmark is also known as The Valley of the Balinese Kings, and the site dates back to the 11th century, even older than Kerta Gosa.
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The site, now shrouded in jungle vines and canopy cover, is believed to be a funeral monument built to honor King Anak Wungsu of the Udayana Dynasty and his beloved wives.
It is absolutely possible to visit both Gunung Kawi and Kerta Gosa in one day. For a little nature immersion along the way, tourists could stop by Tibumana Waterfall, which technically sits in Bangli Regency.
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For more of a hidden gem, be sure to check out Taman Sara Waterfall and Natural Pool; bring swimming gear for a refreshing dip in the stunning waterfall pool. A pretty cool day trip, three regencies in one day!