Like the better-known—and busier—Tirta Gangga Water Palace, this east Bali palace is an atmospheric reminder of the power the kings of Karangasem once held when they ruled much of Lombok. Highlights of Puri Agung Karangasem include the tiered entry gate, vintage photos, and tranquil fish ponds. Descendants of the last raja still use the space.
Once you’ve made it to the sleepy town of Amlapura, Puri Agung Karangasem is easy to explore independently. There’s a small ticket charge, and staff provide English-language information sheets. If you’re very lucky, a member of the royal family may be available to assist. That said, you’ll likely get more out of the experience if you travel with a guide who can provide transportation, cultural context, and historical details. (In general, due to heavy traffic, winding roads, and language barriers, booking a private guide or joining an organized tour can help you get the most out of your entire Bali trip.) Some east Bali tours bundle Puri Agung Karangasem with other Karangasem regal highlights, particularly Tirta Gangga Water Palace.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Puri Agung Karangasem is an excellent choice for fans of Balinese culture, history, and architecture.
- While today east Bali is one of the poorest parts of the island, Karangasem was one of the most powerful of Bali’s sundry kingdoms.
- It is possible to stay in the Puri Agung Karangasem, as some rooms are available as a bed and breakfast.
- The main building of the palace is known as Maskerdam—an adaptation of the word Amsterdam—as it was a gift from Dutch colonial forces.
How to Get There
Set in Amlapura, just off Bali’s main east coast road, Puri Agung Karangasem is reasonably quick to reach with a private car and driver. Local buses operate from Batubulan, north of Denpasar, and Singaraja. Perama runs shuttle buses from popular tourist destinations including Amed, Ubud, and south Bali to Tirta Gangga, approximately 4.5 miles (7 kilometers) north of Puri Agung Karangasem.
When to Get There
Puri Agung Karangasem is open from morning until late afternoon daily and is blissfully uncrowded throughout the year, so there isn’t a bad time to visit. If visiting during Bali’s wet season (roughly October until March), consider coming in the morning for a slightly better chance of beating the rain.
I Gusti Bagus Djelantik, Karangasem’s Last King
The last raja (king) of Karangasem, Gusti Bagus Djelantik (Jelantik) ruled under the title Anak Agung Agung Anglurah Ketut Karangasem until 1966. Besides having a dozen wives, he was a master builder, expressing abstract meditations in architectural form. He built three water palaces: the Tirta Gangga Water Gardens, the Ujung Water Gardens (destroyed in a volcanic eruption), and the Puri Agung Karangasem.