What to Do in East Bali?
East Bali holds treasures of nature, culture, and activities galore.
LEMPUYANG LUHUR TEMPLE, EAST BALI
Otherwise known as Pura Penataran Agung Lempuyang is a Balinese Hindu temple or pura located in the slope of Mount Lempuyang in Karangasem, Bali. Pura Penataran Agung Lempuyang is one of the highly regarded temples of Bali, part of a complex of pura surrounding Mount Lempuyang, The temples of Mount Lempuyang, represented by the highest pura at the peak of Mount Lempuyang, Pura Lempuyang Luhur, is one of the Sad Kahyangan Jagad, or the “six sanctuaries of the world”, the six holiest places of worship on Bali.
Mount Lempuyang predates the majority of Hindu temples on the island of Bali. The puras of Mount Lempuyang, represented by Pura Lempuyang Luhur, the highest temple in the area, is grouped one complex of pura which represents the Pura Sad Kahyangan Luhur Lempuyang.
The temple groups are part of the Sad Kahyangan Jagad or the “six sanctuaries of the world”. These are the six holiest places of worship on Bali. These are the pivotal points of the island and provide spiritual balance to Bali. The temple groups of Mount Lempuyang is also one of the group of temples in Bali known as Pura Kahyangan Padma Bhuwana. Each of the temples in the Pura Kahyangan Padma Bhuwana marked each of the eight cardinal directions. Pura Lempuyang Luhur represents the direction of east (purwa) and the color white. This direction is associated with the domain of Balinese the god Iswara.
Restoration of Pura Penataran Agung Lempuyang took place in 2001.
A beautiful little village up the coast road from Aahh Bali Bistro & Boutique Hotel. Where snorkeling and diving are on the agenda any day.
Amed refers to a long stretch of coast running from the village of Culik about 14 km eastwards incorporating the seven villages of Amed, Jemeluk, Bunutan, Lipah, Selang, Banyuning and Aas. The pace of life here is slow and the coastal scenery quite stunning making Amed the perfect place for a relaxed holiday in Bali.
Amed is the most recent tourist development area in Bali. Growth in the area is relatively recent. Infrastructure improvements have made growth Like newly paved roads in 2000 along with telephone lines in 2003. A huge difference in access happened in 2007. A new bridge built over a connecting section of road that regularly washed out in the rainy season.
This is the most commonly used base for visitors wishing to dive the USS Liberty wreck at Tulamben and that area is also covered by this article. There are other good dive sites close at hand and a thriving dive industry. This has developed all the way along the coast here.
Amed’s inhabitants live from fishing, salt-making, and tourism. With the lack of tourism-based revenue at the time. The East Bali Poverty Project  drew attention to the plight of the local villagers in this area and that, together with recent tourist development, has gone a long way to improving general standards of living, health, and education.
TAMAN UJUNG KARANGASEM
Ujung Water Palace, also known as Ujung Park or Sukasada Park, is a former royal palace located in Karangasem Regency, approximately 5 kilometres from Amlapura. In the Dutch East Indies era, this palace was known by the name Waterpaleis. The palace has three large pools, with the main building named Gili Bale connected by a bridge to the edge of the middle pool.
Ujung Water Palace was built by the King of Karangasem, I Gusti Bagus Jelantik, who held the reign name Anak Agung Agung Ketut Karangasem Anglurah from 1908 to 1950. Built in 1909, the architect was a Dutch van Den Hentz and a Chinese Loto Ang. The development also involved the undagi (Balinese architect). The palace was developed from Dirah Pool, built in 1901. Construction was completed in 1921. In 1937, Taman Ujung Karangasem was inaugurated with a marble stone inscribed with text in Latin and Balinese script and also in two languages, Malay and Balinese. It was destroyed almost entirely by the eruption of Mount Agung in 1963 and an earthquake in 1975.
Tirta Gangga is a former royal water palace located about 5 kilometers from Karangasem, near Abang. This beautiful one-hectare complex built by the King of Karangasem in 1946 was almost totally destroyed by the Mount Agung eruption in 1963.
This water palace is a maze of pools and fountains surrounded by lush gardens, stone carvings, and statues. The palace has since been rebuilt and restored and has an air of authentic royal magnificence.
The centerpiece of the palace is an eleven-tiered fountain. There are also many beautiful carvings and statues adorning the gardens. Rice paddy terraces are abundant in this area.
The pools at Tirta Gangga Water Palace are a wonderful public bathing facility and a great way to freshen yourself up in the heat of the day.
East Bali offers numerous walking and trekking opportunities. The serious trekker will find climbing Mount Agung extremely rewarding. However, it is necessary to heed the eruption warnings and clearance zones.
Mount Agung, towering over 3,000 meters above sea level, has a huge spiritual significance to the Balinese people and is home to the mother temple of Besakih. The Hindu God Pashupati split Mount Meru and formed Mount Agung with a fragment, so says Balinese legend.
Mount Batur is an easy two-hour climb and is one of the easiest to access active volcanoes in Indonesia. There are many trekking and tour options available, with the Sunrise Trekking Tour most popular.
There are lots of other very scenic hiking routes throughout the region.
Many of Bali’s best dive spots are in this region and include a notable wreck dive at Tulamben; plus, very rewarding reef dives at Amed, Candidasa, and Padang Bai.
The most famous dive site in Bali is the USS Liberty, a 120-meter-long shipwreck just 50 meters off the shore in Tulamben. It lies between 10 and 30 meters below the surface, with a small part a bit shallower.
There is a great wall dive at the end of Tulamben bay. The wall drops to about 70 meters. It is a place to encounter blacktip reef sharks, barracuda, lionfish, frogfish, octopus, and stonefish.
Non-divers should not feel left out with each of those locations also offering excellent snorkeling.
The Mother Temple of the Hindu Balinese is Pura Besakih. This is the single most important temple on the island and is dramatically located on the slopes of Mount Agung.
The Besakih temple complex consists of more than 20 separate temples and numerous other smaller shrines, spread out over three kilometers. Each temple has a specific purpose, whether it is for the worship of a particular god, for the use of the people from a certain region of Bali or for the use of a specific Balinese caste.
This region contains some of the most picturesque and least visited beaches on the whole island. Most, but not all, are black sand and tend to be quite narrow. The beaches around Candidasa are the most visited and Amed in the far east of the region is becoming increasingly popular. All the way along the south coast from Padang Bai in the west to way beyond Candidasa in the east are attractive waterfront villages.
The two coves, both with white sand beaches, either side of the port town of Padang Bai are absolutely gorgeous and often remarkably free of visitors. For those wanting an away-from-it-all experience, but also the comforts of a developing tourist destination, then Amed fits the bill perfectly and is a great place to unwind.
The road through the Sideman / Selat valley, in the foothills of Mount Agung, makes for one of the most scenic drives on the whole island. Stunning rice terraces, lush forested hill-sides and the mountain itself all combine to make this a magical area to visit. In the village of Selat, it is easy to find local guides for undemanding hikes in the area.
A very different, but nonetheless dramatic drive is around the north-east coast road through Culik, Tulamben and beyond. Mount Agung again looms very largely, but this time, the aspect is one of bare gravel plains between the coast and the mountain. It is hard to believe that the lush valleys south of the mountain of Sidemen are only 30 kilometers away.
BALI AGA AT TENGANAN
Tenganan is the most famous Bali Aga, original Balinese, village. The Bali Aga people have retained an ancient pre-Majapahit Balinese culture. Tenganan villagers live in the village, marry within the community practice ancestor worship, cosmology, and other animist beliefs, as well as having a rigid social organization, that is strictly adhered to, consequently, the village is closed to outsiders after dark.
Balinese spoken here is unique and differs substantially from even the other Bali Aga community in Trunyan.
Architecturally, the village is very different from the standard Balinese design. Tenganan produces probably the best basketwork anywhere in Indonesia as well as Geringsing a unique double weave ikat fabric.
GOA LAWAH TEMPLE
While it may be small, Goa Lawah is one of the most spectacular temples in the world. Built in front of a cave atop the coastal cliff, the beautiful temple overlooks the ocean. What makes the temple truly unique, are the fruit bats that reside in the cave.
As devotees pray to the intricate statues placed at the mouth of the cave, thousands of fruit bats deep in slumber are in full view. So densely packed together, the cave walls actually look muddied from a distance.
Aside from the natural wonder of the bat cave, the man-made architecture of the temple is also quite stunning. An amazing feat for that time this temple has intricately carved and gold plated appointments forged over a thousand years ago.
Pasir Putih translates to White Beach. Tucked away in a village named Perasi its one of the most idyllic beaches in Bali.
The scenic view is definitely worth venturing through the rocky trails to this secluded location. The highlights of this relatively untouched beach are its aquamarine waters and pristine white sands. For nourishment, there is a small stretch of local restaurants, better known as Warungs.
Mekare-Kare also known as Perang Pandan is an annual ceremony. Its a theatrical fight among Balinese men to honor the God of War as well as their ancestors.
All males, from young to old, participate in Mekare-Kare by fighting with an opponent. Dressed in just a sarung, two men at a time, fight on a central stage. While armed with surprisingly sharp-edged Pandan leaves and straw shields they do battle. The purpose of the ceremony is to draw blood from the opponent. As they fight, there is a cacophony of sounds – the excited cheers of the other villagers, the native Gamelan music of the Tenganan village, and the grunts of the men fighting. Matches usually last less than a minute. The matches continue until all the males in the village have participated.
This tradition is unique to the village of Tenganan. Because the event lasts an entire month during which all villagers will dress in traditional Tenganan clothing.
Kertha Gosa Pavilion is not just another Balinese pavilion or palace. The beautiful, tranquil Kertha Gosa first served as a court of law in 1945.
Kerta Gosa is truly a sight to behold with intricate carvings covering the architecture so as you look up walking through the corridors of the grand hall you see painted ceilings. Vivid wayang motifs depicting the punishments in the afterlife believed to promote fear in the convicts while they awaited their punishment.
Explore the courts and take a moment to soak in the grandeur of a forgotten time. You can’t help but appreciate the beauty of the architecture.