Tirta Gangga is one of those places in Bali that made me swoon just by looking at photos of it online. Romantic, regal, and restful, I knew that it would be a good stopover for our honeymoon.
There was just one tiny problem: it was FAR! Located in East Bali, it is about a 2-hour drive from Seminyak, where we were staying. Was it really worth going to East Bali just for a water garden?
Luckily, the day before we went to Tirta Gangga, Mike and I have sort-of spontaneously decided to go white water rafting at the Telaga Waja River in Karangasem, which was not too far away from Tirta Gangga, so after our adventure, we went straight to this beautiful water palace!
The photos I saw of this place were completely swoon-worthy, but in person, it was a whole different level of stunning!
Tirta Gangga is actually a former royal palace, built by the late King of Karangasem in 1946. The complex was destroyed by the eruption of the nearby Mount Agung, which, by the way, is still an active volcano! After the destruction, Tirta Gangga was rebuilt. Now, if you look at the majestic site, you would not believe that it went through so much damage!
The name Tirta Gangga translates to “water from the Ganges.” The Ganges River in India is the most sacred river to the Hindus, and Tirta Gangga in Bali is considered sacred by the Hindu Balinese. The water in the gardens is also believed to be holy by the locals, and they not only use this water for bathing, but also for drinking.
Water is everywhere in Tirta Gangga! Ponds, swimming pools, and fountains abound in this picturesque water palace complex. If you love the water and nature, this is going to be heaven for you!
Upon entering the water palace, the first thing that will grab your attention is this pond where weapon-bearing stone figures stand. Here, octagonal stones are placed for visitors to step on as they explore the pond. This is my favorite area in this place! It’s like a kingly playground where you can hop from one stone to the next, while watching the fishies in the pond. The kids frolicking around here seemed to really enjoy it! The water is pretty shallow, but watch your step anyway!
Another amazing spot in the water palace is this bridge overlooking two large and clear ponds. From the bridge, you get a great view of the entire complex, including the ponds, the fountains, and the rice terraces.
The focal point of Tirta Gangga is a 10-meter high fountain with eleven tiers and a lotus flower on top, surrounded by statues. Even from afar, this fountain has a way of catching your attention, especially in photos.
There is a pool where visitors can swim for a small fee. If you’re planning to visit, it might be a good idea to bring some changing clothes. I don’t know how deep the water is, but there were a couple of kids jumping in the pool, so I’m guessing it’s not too deep (or they’re just really good swimmers).
Mike and I found a quiet area behind the swimming pool that resembled a stage, surrounded by statues. I wonder if performances are held here?
No question, Tirta Gangga is one of the most breathtaking gardens I have seen. Even on a slightly gloomy day, the tropical gardens and sparkling waters are such an incredible sight!
Seriously, how could you not want to see this place for yourself?
Now, the question on your minds must be: “You’re right, it’s beautiful! But two hours to get to a water palace?! Is it really worth the long travel?!” So here’s what I think: I would say it is NOT to be missed if…
✓ …you have time to spare. Since we were in Bali for 12 days, we could afford to “waste time” on the road for two hours and back just to see this lovely garden. BUT if we only had a few days, we might not have prioritized this and stayed in Ubud and Seminyak instead, where most of the action is.
✓ …you are doing an East Bali tour. Yes, there are other places worth seeing in Bali aside from the usual Ubud and Seminyak! And if it’s already your second, third, or fourth time in Bali, why not venture into the quieter and less touristy areas like Candidasa, Amed, and Sidemen? If you are also keen on seeing these places, you can definitely squeeze in a trip to Tirta Gangga. There is another water garden near Tirta Gangga called Ujung Water Palace which is also very beautiful (I shall blog about this next!) that is worth checking out. After Tirta Gangga, we went straight to Ujung Water Palace. Two water palaces in one day, one after the other — isn’t that redundant? It really depends on you! For us though, both were definitely worth a visit. Both were fascinating and had their own unique features, so we did not get bored at all… which brings me to my next point…
✓ …you really, really, really LOVE nature. This should be obvious enough. If you’re big into nature, I highly doubt that you’ll get bored here!
✓ …you’re into photography. Every spot in this water palace is worth taking a shot of. And every spot makes for the perfect background for your next Facebook profile photo! (Don’t forget the yoga pose on the octagonal stones!)
So… do I hear you say “take me to Tirta Gangga!”? Before you go, just a few things to take note of:
- When you enter, a tour guide will approach you and ask if you want him to take you around and tell you “stories” for a fee. You can accept his offer, but we didn’t, and we never felt like we missed out on anything. We did have our own tour guide (our driver) but we just let him rest. It’s one of those places where you can survive on your own, without a guide. In fact, it was quite nice to have some private moments with my husband in such a magical place. Our tour guide did check up on us every now and then, though, and the few couple shots that you see in this post were taken by him.
- What to bring: definitely your camera!!! And swimming and changing clothes, if you plan on taking a dip in the swimming pool. Do bring sunscreen on hot days!
- There is a restaurant within the water temple complex, in case you get hungry. I don’t know if it’s good because we didn’t eat there.
- Try to visit on a weekday. It gets crazy on weekends!
Tirta Gangga Water Palace
Address: Jl. Abang-Amlapura, Karangasem 80852, Indonesia
Phone: +62 878-6224-0233
Entrance Fee: IDR 20,000 for the entire water palace and an additional IDR 10,000 for the swimming pool
How to get there: Rent a private car with driver / tour guide. I recommend Galih Bali Tour.
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