Located about 35 minutes away in the Karangasem regency of Bali, the beautiful Tirtagangga water palace is a delightful site to couple with your visit to Tulamben. The palace is a picturesque maze of sacred pools, lush gardens, and ornately carved stone statues and fountains. The soothing setting provides an ideal place for meditation, relaxation, and contemplation. Both tourists and locals frequent the palace to rest and experience a slice of Balinese culture (all foreigners must pay a fee of 20,000 to enter).
Tirtagangga was constructed in 1948 by the last raja (king) of Karangangasem, Anak Agung Anglurah Ketut Karangasem; however, the current palace is actually a renewed version of the original. The eruption of Mount Agung nearly destroyed the palace in 1963 and the site was gradually rebuilt by the king’s son and grandson. The name “Tirtagangga” literally means holy water of the Ganges in Balinese. The holy spring water in the palace is said to possess healing and youth giving powers. The water of Tirtagangga is sometimes used in ceremonies at the local temples and occasionally ceremonies even take place in the palace itself.
The grounds are divided into three levels with the immense 11 tiered “nawa sangah” fountain as the centerpiece. In addition to this iconic fountain, many other intricately carved stone sculptures representing Balinese Hinduism concepts are placed throughout the garden. There’s simply something magical about walking across the Mahabharata pond on the stepping stone pathway that winds between a sequence of statues symbolizing the struggle between gods and demons. It is both mesmerizing and calming to peer down into the large south pool and watch the large koi fish swimming below. Guests who want to cleanse themselves in the spring waters are able to bathe in the swimming pools on the middle and upper levels for a small additional fee. Allocating an hour of time to tour Tirtagangga is typically sufficient for most visitors; however, if you are hoping to spend more time meditating or exploring the surrounding area you may wish to set aside more time.
An extra tip > The drive from Tulamben to Tirtagangga (or vice versa) is an added bonus. You will be amazed by the cascading rice terraces surrounding you on either side of the winding road…just be careful not to get distracted if you are the one driving! You will most likely want to make a pit stop for photos along the way, so be sure to leave yourself enough time to pull over and take in the views.