Bali: Taking a Dip in a Holy Swimming Pool Built for Balinese Royalty

Karangasem Side Trip Part 4

Tirta Gangga was built in 1948 by the last King of the regency of Karangasem to enhance an already holy place while providing a spot for contemplation and enjoyment – not just for himself and his family, but also for his subjects.

Tirta Gangga is a water garden with several swimming pools and ornamental ponds set amid beautifully landscaped grounds. The swimming pools are full of swimmers. The ponds are full of koi and lotus blossoms.

Tirta Gangga is a cool oasis set between the rice paddies and the sea in the regency of Karangasem in Eastern Bali.

There are sculptures, statues, pools, ponds, bridges, lawns, the list goes on. One of the garden’s highlights is an 11-tiered fountain.

The water feeding the pools and ponds in the garden comes from a spring under a banyan tree at the foot of a nearby hill. It is believed to originate from the holy Ganges River in India.

How the water gets from the Ganges to Eastern Bali is anyone’s guess. But villagers make pilgrimages to the spring to fetch water to be used during certain important Hindu ceremonies.

Cosmic Layout

The park is divided into 3 sections, reflecting the way Hindus see the universe. The upper section to the North is populated with statues and sculptures depicting Hindu gods. There are both ornamental ponds and swimming pools.

The lower section to the south has statues and sculptures depicting the evil spirits that reside in the nether world. There is a Demon Island at the centre.

The middle of the park, where the entrance is located, has statues and sculptures of people performing mundane tasks. This section of the park reflects the world as we know it.

Much of the water garden was destroyed when nearby Mount Agung erupted in 1963. Political upheavals caused further damage 2 years later.

The water garden was rebuilt and is now open to the public It can serve as a launch pad for treks into the nearby rice paddies or surrounding hills – or as a spot to relax and cool off following such treks.

A Stroll and a Dip in Tirta Gangga

Look over my shoulder as I explore the Tira Gangga Water Palace and take a dip in one of its holy swimming pools.

I was taken to the water garden by Penelope Williams, Executive Chef and Director of the Bali Asli Restaurant and Cooking School , where we had lunch following a visit to Amlapura Market to source fresh produce and the village of Tenganan Pegringsingan, the largest and best preserved walled village of the original, pre-Hindu Bali Aga in Bali.

Continue Reading: Lunching with Monkeys


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