Puri Kangin Karangasem
Puri Agung Karangasem was built at the end of the 19th century by Anak Agung Agung Gede Jelantik, King of Karangasem and the first Stedeholder in Bali for the Dutch Regime. It was later renovated by his son, the King Anak Agung Agung Anglurah Ketut Karangasem, the second stedeholder in Bali. The Palace has three major parts. Visitors are received in the first compound, called the ‘Bencingah’, which has rooms reserved for specially invited guests to your right and left. Visitors enter through gates made in the stupa or pagoda-style. Noted for its tripartite structure, the gate houses the spirits that guard and protect both host and guest from any evil wrongdoing.
The second section, with is old leechee trees, called ‘Jaba Tengah’, is still used as a garden. Like an intermezzo it leads the guest into the inner court of Maskerdam, where more prominent guests would be received by the King himself. Indeed, the name ‘Maskerdam’ speaks of the close ties and the friendly coexistence with the Dutch, as it pronounces, to Indonesian ears, none other than the capital of Belanda or Holland itself, namely ‘Amsterdam’. The proximity to Europe is also evident in the name of the compound that lies North of Maskerdam, ‘London’, which used to house the King’s kitchen.
Balai Kambang of Gili, the island located in the middle of the pond, is the place for the meetings held by the royal family, often supervised by the head of the extended royal family, often supervised by the head of the extended royal family of Karangasem, Profesor Dr. Anak Agung Gede Putra Dangin Telaga. Gili is the place for traditional dining, called ‘kemulan’, Balinese dance and where the royal gamelan orchestra usually gathers. Standing in the Gili, you may notice how the main building of Maskerdam is framed is framed by two auspicious mountains, namely Mount Agung, to the North-West and Mount Lempuyang to the North-East, where the royal family temples are still the site of worship and pilgrimage.
The elevated Bale Pewadelan, north-west of the pond, is reserved for ceremonial purpose, including the rites of passage, the tooth-filling ceremony, still performed here by the royal family. It is also the high site where the Brahma and Shiva priest sing the prayers to accompany the cremation rites that are conducted on the lawn in front of Maskerdam and inside the cremation house itself, Bale Pamedalan. King Anak Agung Agung Anglurah Ketut Karangasem died here in December 1966 and was cremated in January 1967. After the king died, nobody has lived in Maskerdam.
South of the pond towered the oldest building, the Balai Wreda Stana. It was like Maskerdam, built by Chinese craftsman in Chinese ornamental style, had, like Maskerdam itself, carved Chinese door and windows and was adorned with Chinese statues, paintings and other Chinese artifacts. Sadly, it was destroyed by the big earthquake of 1963 and has since been used for recreational activities. It is our hope that the contributions of our new guests will once again raise this gem of a building back to its own quiet splendor.
All entrances lead the visitor towards the rising sun in the East, and all exits to the setting sun in the West. If one continues East of Maskerdam one reaches Bali Ekalanga or the house of bliss. It was once and still used as a ceremonial wedding house and is now a living memory of the wedding between the King and Lady Ratu Istri Oka Cakrakusuma of the royal family of Lombok. The two-storey house behind Gedong Ekalanga, where she lived, also goes by the name of Gedong Yogya, so called because the sultans of Yogya and Solo, related to this family, stayed in this house when they visited the King. Still there are close ties between Solo, Yogya and Karangasem as their families have a common ancestry in the Hindu Majapahit Kingdom of Java. If you visit the Gedong Yogya, where the granddaughter of the King lives, you may, from its teras, catch a peak of Lombok Island, which once ruled by the King of Karangasem. And, across the Valley, you may see the muslim village of Nyuling, the descendants of the Sasak people that once came from Lombok, to serve the King and his court.
The king Anak Agung Agung Anglruah Ketut Karangasem, a master of the Balinese dance and excellent woodcarver, made great efforts to build what was his passion, water palaces. A living testimony to his zest of harmonizing nature and art, his joy for blending traditional motifs with modern material, for balancing European geometries with a Balinese sense of place and symbolic form, can bee seen in this Water Palaces he built: the Ujung Water Palace in 1923, the Tirta Gangga in 1957. Both water palaces have recently been restored. The King also had a spiritual zeal, which made him study Veda, write religious poetry (kidung), become a priest (bagawan) and erect temples. These temples, found in the Karangasem region, still serve for the spiritual worship and guidance for his living family and the people of the region.
The King and his 10 wives left behind an extensive royal family: 16 sons, 19 daughters and 90 grandchildren, some of whom you may see in the photos adoming Maskerdam. Finally, on behalf of the extended royal family of Karangasem, I, Anak Agung Made Arya Wangsa, grandson of the late King of Karangasem and the caretaker of his heritage and his house, would like to thank you for visiting our humble palace. Who knows, maybe you are amongst those who will contribute to its living and sustain memory.