The Tirta Gangga royal water garden is a favourite retreat in the regency of Karangasem, east Bali. It was built in 1946 during the reign of the late raja of Karangasem, Anak Agung Anglurah Ketut Karangasem (1887 - 1966). Tirta Gangga saw a series of restorations following the destructive hot showers of volcanic ash from the 1963 Mount Agung eruption.
The lavish water gardens owned by the royal Karangasem family feature 1.2ha of pools, ponds and fountains surrounded by neatly cut lawns adorned with stepping stones, ornate statues and tropical gardens.
Tirta Gangga is located in the village of Ababi, an approximate 75km east of Denpasar. The complex is a cool retreat in the eastern highlands, perched on the south-eastern slope of the island’s highest mountain, Mount Agung.
The Tirta Gangga complex was built around the same time as the Taman Soekasada Ujung, another site located near the coast and 8.5km south in the village of Tumbu. Tirta Gangga, like its sister royal bathing complex, consists of tropical gardens, wading pools, fish ponds, and fountains.
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Entering the site, the first thing that comes into view is a pond where rows of guardian figures holding cudgels are neatly arranged. Also, polygonal stepping stones which enable visitors to ‘tour’ the pond are set out in order. This allows viewing the old and relatively large golden carp from up close in the clear and shallow ponds.
Behind the first pond is the central towering fountain, again featuring guardian statues at its base. This 10m high fountain has eleven tiers with a shape of a lotus at its tip. The spouting water splashes down the tiers to make a cooling effect and a soothing sight.
The springs are located at a higher ground to the right of the entrance of the site, under a large banyan tree. The water is considered holy by the locals and is used during religious ceremonies, as well as a source of potable water.
At the lower level of the water source are two clear pools. One of them serves as a public wading pool and visitors are welcome to swim here. The pools have a design that harks back to the olden days, consisting of sandstone and natural materials. Different floor depths enable all ages to enjoy the pools.
The grand 100sqm pond at the southern side of the complex is filled with large golden carp and other large fish, and swimming is prohibited. Two bridges connect the sides of the pond, which feature ornate mythical Balinese dragon statues at its sides.
Good to Know about Tirta Gangga
Tirta Gangga is a convenient stopover along tour itineraries to Bali’s eastern region. Its main entrance and large parking area is easily spotted from the main Amlapura Road. The site is open to the public and a small entrance fee applies which goes towards maintenance.
It is a favourite retreat and some weekends may seem a bit crowded. Besides the many small warung stalls outside of the main site and around the parking area, Tirta Gangga also boasts accommodation facilities and a restaurant, as well as the Tirta Ayu Hotel & Restaurant – located just behind the main fountain.
Tirta Ayu features a menu that offers a combination of international dishes, through a variety of salad choices, vegetarian delights, mouth-watering desserts and pastries. It also offers a selection of wines, ice-cold beers and exotic cocktails. Guests here dine alfresco, with open views to the beautiful water gardens and fountains.
Tirta Gangga Royal Water Garden
- Opening Hours: 08:00 - 23:00
- Location: Jalan Abang, Karangasem
- Tel: +62 (0)363 225 03