Contributed in part by Veronica Siwi
Tampaksiring is a town in central Bali that is less a tourist area and more a point of interest, because of the State Palace resort. If you wish to go there (and you normally can), it is definitely wise to have a local go with you, as the government still uses the Presidential Palace to welcome and entertain state visitors. You have to report yourself to the guard before entering the area and you are not allowed to enter any of the buildings. But that's ok, as the palace grounds are very much worth the visit anyway on their own.
The State Palace on the hill was built in 1957, and the grounds
cover a total area of 25 hectares. There are only three houses in the
complex -- the presidential house (9 rooms), visitors house (9 rooms), and the
house for presidential troops/guards. Each of these were ornately
decorated and kept in perfect condition. The previous President of
Indonesia used this complex extensively (his wife was Balinese), but it is not
used as much now.
The first picture shows the front door of the Presidential Palace, and take note of the ornate front door. That style of decor was applied to all the houses. Surprisingly, although we were not allowed to enter, there was no stand-off zone, so we were allowed a close-up look at the decor -- original, ornate, and colorful. On the other hand, the buildings themselves were simple. Strip away the decor, and the house could easily fit in an American neighborhood.
The second picture shows an open-air hall located behind the Palace where presidential visitors, normally leaders of various countries in the world, were welcomed with traditional Balinese dance performances.
The palace grounds contained perfectly manicured grass and bushes, plus sanctuaries holding a number of animals in captivity. Several herds of deer live in a large fenced-in field toward the entrance to the grounds. There are also bird sanctuaries nearby with cassowaries and other indigenous species.
The third picture shows the bridge
that connects the presidential house to the visitor house. It's about 20 meters
high, and enclosed on both sides are closed,
therefore inaccessible to visitors. The reason for the bridge is because
of the footpath that goes beneath it. The grounds were actually divided in
half, with a fenced path cutting in between to allow the locals to walk between
the village on the hill and the Holy Spring Temple below.
The fourth picture shows that path and the Holy Spring Temple located right below the State Palace. The holy spring in the temple's inner courtyard is said to have magical curative powers. Nearby bathing pools have cool clear water pouring from mossy spouts. The Temple grounds were recently opened for tourists interested in bathing in the spring water.
The artwork of the temple was simply eye-popping. The fifth photo shows an example of it -- with the highly detailed painting and golden trim, very usually for Hindu temples, which normally employed plain stone.
Making the visit particularly enjoyable was the Hindu priestess who served as our informal tour guide. She took us through the entire Temple, including areas normally not open to tourists. She was probably in her 50s or 60s, and was very intelligent and charming, making the visit very special. We donated generously at the main temple.
Outside the Temple was a small village that catered to visitors, with a number of shops and eateries. The village was not unlike the simple villages located all across Central Bali, with very friendly people and great bargains on anything you wish to buy.
Tampaksiring is a half-day itinerary in conjunction with another destination. We pretty much combed the place in three hours. Because it is a short distance from Ubud, so a recommended itinerary is to go to Tampaksiring in the morning, and then go to Ubud for lunch and shopping. It's absolutely worth it if you can go, because it is so beautiful and unique among locations in Bali!
Trip taken 21 January 2002 -- Page last updated 28 October 2006