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Klungkung Sight Seeing
Klungkung Place of Interest
Outside the busy town, Klungkung offers a contrast of landscapes from the lush hills on the road leading to Besakih temple, to the stark gravel pits to the east, formed when Mt Agung erupted in 1963, its lava flows laying waste to the ricefields of the area. The villages of Klungkung are among the most charming in Bali, and have been major prize winners in the all Bali ”beautiful village” competitions sponsored by the government.
One of the natural highlights of the FGungkung area is the great Unda River just east of the city. Floods and changes in the river’s course figure in many episodes of Klungkung’s traditional history. Nowadays its caprices are kept in check by a system of dams and man-made dikes, built with the voluntary aid of those who live by the river and are dependent on its waters for their survival.
The town of Klungkung centers around the Puri Smarapura or ”Palace of the God of Love” former home of Bali’s most illustrious line of kings. Unfortunately, all that remains now are the great gate and garden, and two pavilions with magnificently painted ceilings. These are the Kerta Gosa Hall of Justice overlooking the town’s main intersection, and the larger Bale Kambang or Floating Pavilion just behind it.
The rest of this splendid complex was razed to the ground in 1908, during the royal mass suicide or puputan (”ending”) against the Dutch invaders. This event removed the last obstacle to Dutch domination of the island. A monument commemorating the puputan now stands across the road.
The Kerta Gosa was a place for the administration of traditional justice in precolonial times by a council consisting of the great king and his priests. The Paintings on the ceiling tell of the punishments awaiting evil-doers in hell, and of the delights of the gods in heaven. Different levels and stations in heaven and hell are described through the story of the hero Bima, who journeys to the underworld to save the souls of his parents. These scenes were used to alternately threaten and cajole anyone who appeared before the court.
Like the Sistine Chapel, the Kerta Gnsa presents a whole complex of ideas on the workings of fate and the role of the divine in human affairs. The ceilings themselves have been repainted three times in recent memory. The last complete refurbishment occurred in 1960 under the famous artist Pan Seken, although in 1984, weather damage caused a number of panels to be repaired.
The adjoining village of Kamasan is a major artistic center, home of traditional Balinese painting. The many forms of painting found today in Bali all derive from the so-called Kamasan or wayang style characteristic of this village, in which the figures depicted resemble two-dimensional shadow puppets.
The style itself traces back to ancient Java, where similar figures are found on temple reliefs. The amazing thing is that this survives as a living art up until the present day on Bali.
Painters from Kamasan were once sent all over the island in the service of their royal Patrons. The painters ward is banjar sangging but other parts of the village are famous for their crafts as well. Nearby is the banjar Pande mas, where gold and silversmiths work.
The village also once provided dancers, musicians and puppeteers to the court. Most these activities have declined in recent year but they once contributed to a lively creative atmosphere, providing inspiration for local painters.
The presence of dalang, or puppeteers in the village was particularly important. The iconography of the two art forms is the same, as are the stories depicted ” great epics like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Scenes portrayed in the flickering shadows of the wayang are rendered in reds and ochres and arranged to show the workings of natural and supernatural forces.
Paksabali is famous for its Dewa Mapalu or Pasraman Dewa festival ” the dramatic ”clashing” or ”meeting of the gods.” This is held during the annual Kuningan festival, when idols are borne from the temple aboard palanquins down a steep ravine to the Unda River to be ritually bathed and given offerings. As the palanquin bearers proceed back up to the temple gates, they are possessed by the gods they are carrying and race madly in circles, colliding against each other in an effort to get back into the temple compound.
Not far beyond Kusamba is the famous Goa Lawah bat cave temple, one ot the state temples of Klungkung. Legend has it that when Klungkung was ruled from Kusamba, a prince of Mengwi sought protection here and entered the bat cave. He was not seen again until he emerged nearly 20 kms to the north, at Pura Besakih. No one has since tried to enter the cave to prove whether it really extends that far the strong odor of hat droppings is no doubt a major deterrent.
All kinds of appalling myths have always been attached to Nusa Penida, due to its gloomy atmosphere and unrewarding conditions. Black magic is said to flourish here, and Balinese from the mainland are very careful about what they say to Nusa people so as not to offend them. All evil affecting Bali especialiy floods and diseases during the dry season is said to come from Nusa, brought by the giant demon king, Jero Gede Mecaling.
In the Badung and Gianyar regencies, the giant and his troops, who are said to cross the straits and land at Lebih, are met and expelled by means of exorcistic sanghyang dedari trance dances. Formerly, the islands were part of the Klungkung kingdom, which used Nusa as a place of banishment. Therefore, most inhabitants are commoners and only a few bear the noble titles Dewa or Sri.
Nusa Penida is the ideal place to get off the beaten track, and to seek quietude and authenticity. The inhabitants here speak Baliiiese, with a local accent and vocabulary influenced by Sasak, but for them Bali is another world to which they go only from time to time.
The form of ceremonies, such as weddings and cremations is similar to those in Bali, but in other ways these islands remind one of Lombok or Sumbawa.
Several sights are worth visiting, such as Karang Sari Cave, the spring at Sakti and Sebuluh Waterfall near Batu Madeg. The most interesting temple is Ratu Gede Mecaling Pura Peed, 3 km east of Toya Pakeh. In the smaller sanctuary here, a strange tree composed of three entangled ones grows, and from the trunk a stone mouth of Mecaling’s minister protrudes.
The temple odalan falls on Buda Cemeng Kelawu. Every three years on the fourth full moon (Purnama Kapat), a great festival (usaba) is also held, during which pilgrims from all over Bali come to pray at Pura Peed.
Nusa L.embongan is a small island covered with coconut trees, mangrove forests, small farms, and is surrounded by coral reefs. The island is split between two villages, Jungut Batu and Lembongan. About 75 percent of its population is involved with seaweed farming.
The relaxed atmosphere on the island is synchronized with the cycles of the tides. Villagers are seen planting, replanting, and drying the seaweed. Much of this activity takes place on the beach so it is difficult to find an isolated beach for sunbathing.
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