Taman Sukasada Ujung, a grand water palace perched on a hill five kilometres south of Amlapura, is often dismissed as a second cousin to more popular Taman Tirta Gangga. Although not as elaborate as its more famous cousin — though they were both built by the same Raja — we think this palace overlooking the ocean has a bit of an edge on the serenity stakes. It’s much larger, has fewer tourists and the tranquil gardens make for a pleasant visit.
Taman Sukasada, often referred to as Taman Ujung or Ujung Water Palace, was built by the last Raja of Karangasem (H.H. Sri Paduka Ratu Anak Agung Anglurah Ketut Karangasem). It dates from 1921 and was officially opened in 1937. Combining Balinese, European and Chinese architectural traditions, the water palace was conceived as a recreational area for the royal family and for entertaining important guests visiting the Karangasem kingdom.
In Balinese cosmology, Taman Sukasada sits on an important site, with Gunung Lempuyan to the northeast, Gunung Agung to the west, and the sea to the east. The palace was destroyed first by the eruption of Gunung Agung in 1963, and then nature had a second go with an earthquake in 1975. A conservation project was completed in 2004.
The picturesque ponds and pavilions are spread over an area about 300 metres long by 100 metres wide. Two large pools and a smaller one are surrounded by beautiful formal gardens. The two larger pools incorporate grand floating pavilions connected to the gardens by ornamental bridges. In the northern pool, the stately Balai Gili pavilion encompasses several rooms with decorative relief work and photographs of the royal family. The Balai Gili is connected via two bridges, with elaborate gatehouses at either end. The southern pool houses and open pavilion, Balai Kambang, used for receiving and entertaining guests. Nearby, a smaller elevated round pagoda, the Balai Bundar, functioned as a meditation area for the Raja.
The smaller of the three pools known as Kolam Girah or Dirah has mystical significance. The story goes, if someone was accused of black magic, they were exiled to spend the night by this pool. If by morning they were dead, they had indeed been correctly accused. If they were still alive, they would be possessed — so be careful around that pool!
High on the hill between the two large ponds a grand arched open pavilion, the Balai Kapal, was originally the main gate of the palace. With panoramic views, it served to monitor ships passing the Lombok Strait. It’s worth climbing up the steep stairs for a birds’ eye view of the whole complex, and sweeping views out to sea and surrounding countryside.
Taman Sukasada has a wonderful sense of openness and peace. We highly recommend a stop — and do take the time to have a leisurely wander and soak up the serenity.
Taman Sukasada is usually visited as a stop on the Amlapura circuit which includes two other historical places within the Karangasem royal heritage, Puri Agung Karangasem and Taman Tirta Gangga water palace. While you are in Ujung cross the road to Pantai Ujung to see the penis-shaped rock at Pura Linggayoni. And if you visit Taman Sukasada late afternoon, stop by the ikan pepes sellers at the top of the hill, near the old entrance opposite the mosque. Delicious spicy grilled fish in banana leaves make a very tasty afternoon snack.
By Sally Arnold
Last updated on 1st March, 2016.