Tirta Gangga is a royal water palace in Ubud, Bali. Built by a king, then destroyed by a volcano, it has now been lovingly restored and is noted for its immaculate gardens and fountains, which form many a picture postcard of the island.
One steamy afternoon on the same day that visited Bali Zoo, I decided to take a taxi to Tirta Gangga, which is one of the 3 most well-known temples in this part of the island (along with Pura Besakih, and Taman Ayun). The journey to the temple was a spectacular affair, as my driver escorted me through busy streets with noisy honking horns, and drove me past incredible Balinese rice paddies – in fact, I thought they were so incredible that I demanded to stop and take some photos. Luckily, my driver obliged!
Unlike Taman Ayun or Pura Besakih, I didn’t know too much about Tirta Gangga before I arrived. I had just been amazed by the photos I had seen beforehand online. Additionally, compared to the aforesaid temples in the vicinity, Tirta Gangga is a true Hindu haven, relatively hassle-free and devoid of touts. Tirta Gangga (or “Water of the Ganges”) began its history in 1946 when the King of Karangsem built the 1-hectare complex. However, the legendary Mount Agung destroyed the temple and palace entirely in 1963. Since then, there has been an amazing restoration of the whole complex, and now there is a labyrinthine collection of fountains, pool, and immaculately landscaped gardens of which even the Japanese would be proud!
I spent a long time in the searing heat strolling around the gardens of Tirta Gangga; the hypnotic majesty of the fountains (visual and audial); the scarily large koi carp in the water below my feet; the noticeable lack of tourists and noise. It all contributed to a great experience, and considering the admission fee was only 20,000 Rupiahs for foreigners, I thought it was one of the better-value tourist attractions in Bali – an island usually noted for being a tourist trap. Undoubtedly the highlight of the Tirta Gangga is the small pool into which worshippers and tourists can [respectfully] dip to cleanse themselves in what is considered to be ‘spiritual’ waters. Be aware that there is a small charge for this practice, if you are a foreigner. I observed many people ‘blessing’ themselves in the water, but I was happy to just walk around the pools on the stepping stones provided. I sometimes get very bad vertigo, and walking and balancing around these pools I did fear falling in, and even though the water was not that deep (maybe knee-high at best), it would have been an embarrassing affair! Luckily, I did not lose my footing!
Tirta Empul temple, also nearby in Ubud, Bali, has a similar method of cleansing oneself, where you can fully immerse yourself in the pools and cleanse yourself of unwanted spirits underneath running water streams. I really recommend visit both of these temples, but in particular Tirta Gangga, for it really is a tranquil haven in the chaos that is Bali, and, in fact, one of my favourite attractions to visit in all of Indonesia!
I would like to point you in the direction of this fantastic photo experience with a lot of detailed backstory from the esteemed travel blogger Harinda Bama. Thanks for reading!