Ujung Water Palace, Indonesia
This elegant complex of ponds and gardens combines Balinese and European design with fetching ocean views into an under appreciated gem that’s well worth visiting. A series of long ornate bridges and pathways intersecting the grounds, along with the mighty Mount Agung looming in the background, creates an extremely photogenic example of Balinese royal architecture. Ujung Water Palace is located in Karangasem Regency, along the coast of East Bali about 20 km from Denpasar.
Also known as Taman Sukasada Ujung or simply Taman Ujung (“water palace”), the location inhabits a significant geological spot in the Balinese cosmology. It is flanked by two holy mountains — Gunung Agung to the west, Gunung Lempuyan to the northeast — and the ocean to the east. It was constructed by order of the last Raja of Karangasem, Anak Agung Anglurah. The water palace was built as a series of additions to an existing religious water element, a pond known as Kolam Dirah, which was used to punish those accused of witchcraft and black magic.
After the renovations and expansion, Taman Ujung officially opened in 1937 as a royal water garden complex. Dutch, Chinese, and Balinese architects were involved with the design and construction, leading to a water palace of unique appearance. Two pools and a number of pavilions were added to the original pool. The water palace served as a recreational area for the royal family and as a place to receive honored foreign dignitaries visiting Bali. The palace was destroyed by the eruption of Gunung Agung in 1963, and again by an earthquake in 1975. A conservation and restoration project was completed in 2004.
There are different levels of ponds and gardens as the 25-acre (10-ha) park winds its way up the hillside, each offering panoramic views. A long set of stairs leads up to the top of the hill, where a dilapidated structure festooned with statues of a rhino and a bull has excellent vistas of both the palace and the Lombok Straits in the distance. This location is very popular for wedding photos. The palace also has plenty of koi to feed, and in one of the ponds, children can rent small boats. Less trafficked than nearby Tirta Gangga, Ujung Water Palace offers a great deal of serenity and scenery for those who make the journey.