“Tirta Gangga” are Balinese words that literally means water from the Ganges. It is a site of some reverence for the Hindu Balinese people. The name refers to the water palace founded in the late 1940s to the 1950s by Gusti Gede Djelantik, testator to the former Kingdom of Karangasem. It is widely used, though, to refer to the general area including the water palace and some fascinating rural areas around.
Tirta Gangga is a famous site which is located between the nearby coastal resort towns of Amed and Candidasa. In fact, it is situated beside the main road between these two locations. There are also about a dozen eateries located around the entry to the Water Palace. The hiking around Tirta Gangga is excellent. You can just take a short stroll on your own along any well beaten track into the rice paddies or, for the more serious hikers, a full-on climb of nearby Mount Agung and Mount Lempuyang. Organised tours are widely offered as well.
This is a great area of Bali in which you can walk through many small roads and paths to explore the nature. The primary attractions in this area for visitors are the Tirta Gangga water palace, a lovely maze of pools and fountains surrounded by a lush garden and stone carvings and statues. The one hectare complex was built from 1948 onwards by the late heir to the Kingdom of Karangsem but was almost entirely destroyed by the eruption of nearby Mount Agung in 1963. It has been lovingly re-founded and restored and has an atmosphere of authentic royal Bali magnificence. The centerpiece of the palace is a fountain which has eleven tiers. There are also many beautiful carvings and statues beautifying the gardens. This is a great place to relax and it has a real atmosphere of the old era of Bali. You can bathe in the pools, too. The areas around Tirta Gangga are beautiful rice paddy terraces. Some postcard pictures of Bali rice terraces which you may have seen are from photographs taken here.
Lempuyang Temple or Pura Lempuyang Luhur is about 10 kilo meters east of Tirtagangga. This temple is located on the slopes and peak of Mount Lempuyang. This is one of the key nine directional temples on the island of Bali. Taman Ujung to the southeast of Karangasem or Amlapura town is another water palace built by the predecessor of the King who constructed Tirta Gangga. Tirta Gangga and Mount Lempuyang are great trekking areas with some of the best walks in Bali to suit all levels of fitness.
An easy and free stroll for those who are not used to full-on hiking is one from outside the wall of the Water Palace on the low side. You can walk about 300 meters along the wall from the road and you will come to a large concrete lined water channel off to the left. You can walk comfortably along the top of the channel for about 3 kilo meters through the rice paddy fields. This is a great way to take in the wonderful panorama of the mountain and also to see Balinese village life. You can take photos in every twist and turn you make in this area. The terraced rice paddy fields and other landscapes as well as the water palace itself are really very attractive.
There are a few souvenir shops and stalls at the entrance of the water palace. If you use an Indonesian sim card in your cellular phone, recharges are also available here. There are good choices of eateries in Tirtagangga, too. They are situated around the entry to the Water Palace. A number of eateries are open throughout the day and fewer at night. They range from the traditional Indonesian stalls called “warung” to the exclusive up market restaurant located around the Palace grounds. There are also several budget accommodation options alongside the main road both south and north of Tirta Gangga. The well-known coastal resort towns of Candidasa and Amed are also easily accessed in about 20 minutes from here.