Royal Inheritance – Bali’s Preserved Palaces

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The empire was against the Majapahit expansion in 1343; however the fight between two strong commanders, Gajah Mada from Majapahit and KeboIwa from Bedahulu, left Majapahit victorious. The Majapahit Kingdom later on appointed Sri Kresna Kepakisan, a descendant of Bali Aga origin, to rule in Bali. This milestone…

Text by Kartika D. Suardana Photos by Kartika D. Suardana and Ayu Sekar

In the period between the 8th and 14th century, the reign of ancient Bali was centralised in Pejeng, under the Bedahulu Kingdom. The kingdom was located in Pejeng Village near Ubud, which is now a part of the Gianyar Regency. 

The empire was against the Majapahit expansion in 1343; however the fight between two strong commanders, Gajah Mada from Majapahit and KeboIwa from Bedahulu, left Majapahit victorious. The Majapahit Kingdom later on appointed Sri Kresna Kepakisan, a descendant of Bali Aga origin, to rule in Bali. This milestone marked the end of the Bali Aga dynasty and the beginning of the Majapahit dynasty in Bali.

After the defeat of the Bedahulu Kingdom, the kingdom was moved to Gelgel and was then called the Gelgel Kingdom. The Gelgel period came to end in 1686 and was followed by an era ruled by the Klungkung Kingdom. During this period, the island was split into nine areas including Klungkung and was ruled by several smaller kingdoms: Badung, Mengwi, Buleleng, Bangli, Karangasem, Tabanan, Denpasar, Gianyar and, of course, Klungkung. Evidence of the existence and history of these kingdoms is still preserved by descendants of the royal family today and some palaces are open for public visits.


puri saren ubud

Puri Saren Ubud, widely known as the Ubud Palace, is located in the heart of Ubud. The establishment of the Ubud Palace began when the prince of Klungkung was sent to create a palace in Sukawati. The success of Sukawati’s reign continued as he secured the Ubud area in the late 1700s. Today, the Ubud Palace dynasty still holds a strong influence over the people of Ubud. However, these days, the palace does not function as a government building but as a cultural centre. 

Puri Saren Ubud is open to visitors from the morning to the afternoon. Entering the main gate, there is a courtyard where dances and other cultural performances are held every evening. The second gate brings visitors to the inner compound where a collection of Bali’s traditional architecture can be admired. Looking up at the ceiling, visitors will be stunned by the decorative carvings, with its intricate details and gold coating.


puri kanginan buleleng

The name Kanginan derives from Balinese word Kanging, meaning ‘East’. Built in the late 18th century, the palace itself actually faces towards the west, but it is named Kanginan because it lies to the east of the main intersection and the marketplace.

The compound of Puri is divided into several areas following Balinese religious principles. Starting from the highest yard, the temple, which is called Uttama Mandala, is located in the East. Slightly below this is the central courtyard or Madya Mandala and further down is the outer courtyard, Kanista Mandala, directed towards the entrance and exit.

While it may look locked and there is no guard or ticket stall, the palace is open for public viewing. The royal family still lives in the palace but visitors can still admire its traditional Balinese architecture, Javanese influences and classic, Western aesthetic principals.


puri anyar kerambitan 

Puri Anyar Kerambitan was originally not a palace for a king but for a prince. The story goes back to the ruling period of the twelfth King of Tabanan, who until his old age, was not blessed with a son. So, he made a vow that if any of his wives could deliver a baby boy, he would give the throne to him. After some time, one of his concubines gave birth to a baby boy and this baby became his heir. Not long after that, the queen too, delivered a baby boy. However, the real prince could not take the throne because of the King’s vow. The prince eventually decided to leave the palace, accompanied by his followers, to a beautiful place now called Kerambitan. His brother, the King of Tabanan, wanted him to return to the palace but the prince refused. So, the King of Tabanan supported and honoured him by building a palace in Kerambitan.

Puri Anyar Kerambitan is the second palace built after Puri Agung Kerambitan. The outer compound of the palace, called Cangkem Kodok, is where people would assemble to meet the Prince. Becingah Puri, the area after Cangkem Kodok, is where the gamelan (musical instruments) is kept, as well as where people would prepare ceremonial offerings. The Prince would entertain his guests in the middle courtyard, Jaba Tengah, where a two-hundred year old Cempaka tree, believed to have magical powers, also grows. Then, there is Tandakan Puri, a place specially used to receive the Prince’s customary guests. The royal family lives in the innermost courtyard, the same area where the guesthouse is located. Visitors can rent rooms surrounding the palace. For reservations, visit 


puri pemecutan

Nararya Gde Raka is the child of Adityawarman and was the leader of the Majapahit expedition that conquered the Bedulu Kingdom in 1343. He was adopted as the third son and given the name Kiyai Nyoman Tegeh by Gusti Ngurah Tegeh, the head of government in Badung. Following the success of a mission, Kiyai Nyoman Tegeh was granted the chief position to govern Badung, by Dalem Waturenggong (the second King of Gelgel Kingdom). Later on, he was also granted the power to build the Pemecutan palace. The name Pemecutan derives from the word “pecut” (magic whip), a gift from Dewi Danu, The Goddess of Lake, Waters and Fertility in Lake Batur.

Puri Agung Pemecutan, which was built in the 16th century, is located in Jalan Thamrin, not too far from Pasar Badung, the main traditional market in Denpasar. The fort-style, red brick building still stands amidst its modern surroundings. Entering the main gate (Candi Bentar), there is a courtyard called Jaba Jeroning Cerancang. In its west corner, stands Jabe Bale Gong, the storage for the ancient gamelan instruments. Also on the west side of Jabe Bale Gong is the kitchen. Inside the palace compound lays a collection of several ancient statues and old cars. Rooms are also available to stay in and are positioned to the north of the kitchen. Guests are allowed to enter the Agung Pemecutan Temple compound to appreciate its beautiful, ancient architecture. 

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