Tirta Gangga Water Palace is a stunning tourist attraction near Ababi village less than an hour’s drive from Denpasar. Designed and constructed by Anak Agung Anglurah Ketut Karangasem, the last King of Karangasem, in 1948 and showcases a unique mix of Balinese and Chinese architecture.
Aside from their beauty and tranquillity, the gardens are also remarkable because not only was the king the architect of these gardens but he also provided hands-on help with the construction of the gardens. In fact many of the local villagers were shocked to see their king knee-deep in mud, working alongside lower class labourers digging out the ponds and pools. However designing and building the water gardens was a favourite hobby of the King.
Tirta Gangga Water Palace covers 1.2 hectares and features three separate complexes, each with their own collection of sculptures and ponds. The lowest level complex features a water tower and two large ponds while the mid-level complex features the swimming pools. The highest level complex is the main complex and features the country house of the former King. Visitors can now find a restaurant as well as four bungalows available for rent in the former King’s home.
The water gardens aren’t just there to look pretty, they do also serve a function purpose as well. A reservoir located on the grounds stores natural spring water and from here, drinking water is delivered to Amlapura town via a pipe system. There is also an underground pipe system that leads to the upper swimming pool and into the mouth of the demon statue of Raksasa as the corner of the pool. From here water cascades over into the lower level pool, then into smaller fish ponds before finally ending up in the rice fields that surround the gardens.