This culturally significant site goes by many names. It’s known as Puri Agung Semarapura, Klungkung Palace. or Kerta Gosa, and is the remains of the 18th century royal Klungkung Palace, which was home to the last of the Balinese kingdoms to be overcome when armies of Dutch colonized the area in the early 1900s. The surviving pavilions are artistically significant for their finely painted ceilings. The paintings are considered outstanding examples of the Kamasan (or Wayang) style and depict scenes from Balinese and Indian Hindu myths. Located in eastern Bali in the Klungkung Regency in the city of Semarapura, about 40 km east of Denpasar, this site also features beautiful panoramas and a museum.
The Klungkung Kingdom was the seat of the Majapahit Empire and was the most important of the nine kingdoms of Bali from the late 17th century until 1908. The city was known as the center of Bali art and culture. The palace was built in the late 18th century by Dewa Agung Jambe I.
In the early 1900s, following a series of incidents with Dutch colonialists, a war broke out. Hopelessly outnumbered in battle, The King of Klungkung, Dewa Agung Jambe II, led 200 members of his family and court in a march to death under fire from the Dutch. All were either killed or committed ritual suicide. The palace was burned to the ground, and all that survived was Taman Gili, the “moated garden.”
The two primary buildings that survived were Kerta Gosa bale, the hall of justice, and Bale Kembang, located in the middle of the moat. Both feature ceiling paintings that tell ancient stories. The ceiling paintings were restored to match and replace the original cloth paintings in 1930, and have had a few restorations since then. Nonetheless, they provide an invaluable look at an artistic style rarely seen in Bali today.
The small Museum Daerah Semarapura commemorates the history of Klungkung as well as the puputan (or death march) of King Dewa Agung. It contains additional art and cultural items, including Dutch newspapers from the time. The grounds themselves feature the two large bales, along with an ornate entrance gate and the surrounding moat and gardens. Due to the significance of the site, a sarong must be worn if guest’s knees are uncovered.