Taman Ujung Karangasem, or Karangasem Water Palace, is a short drive from the villa near Amlapura. This palace was built in 1919 by the king of Karangasem. He and his family used this ornate palace as a place of relaxation. Unfortunately for us, the majority of the palace was destroyed in an earthquake in the 1970s and today only a few buildings remain. In spite of this, visitors are still able to enjoy the grounds and can wander through the ponds, ruins and buildings that are still standing today.
Although Lonely Planet didn’t have great things to say about the palace, I thoroughly enjoyed the morning I spent wandering around the ruins and restored buildings. My friends and I began the day with some nasi goreng and Balinese coffee at a small restaurant overlooking the ponds of Taman Ujung Karangasem. After finishing, we paid the small entrance fee (around 2USD), crossed a short bridge and began exploring the grounds.
In the middle of the water sits the main building, which was the primary housing for the royal family when they stayed at the palace. It is connected to either side of of the pond by an ornate bridge. Inside the building hang pictures of the king and his family. While it’s not the most fascinating or beautiful interior it helps paint a better picture of the history of the palace.
The most impressive part of Taman Ujung, in my opinion, was not the buildings themselves but the actual grounds. There are paths leading all around the ponds which are surrounded by well manicured lawns, colorful flowers, sculptures, and small gazebo like structures. In the distance it is possible to see both the sea and the mountains. At times it felt as if I’d stepped into a Southeast Asian version of a European palace’s garden.
While we didn’t take advantage of this, you are also able to take a dip in the water. For a small extra fee visitors can swim in water that has been blessed by a priest. I am slightly disappointed I didn’t know about this at the time as I am sure this would have been a truly unique swimming experience!
Taman Ujung is the perfect place for a morning walk or run, before it gets too hot in the afternoon heat, and is definitely worth a look if you find yourself on Bali’s east coast. Taman Ujung is located on the main road past Candidasa, about 6 km before Amlapura. To get the most out of your visit, get there in the morning before both the crowds and heat arrive, and spend the extra 2,000Rp for a guide who can provide additional insight and history.