The Dramatic Tale of Bali’s Romeo and Juliet
William Shakespeare has his Romeo & Juliet, and Bali has its similar tragic love story. Sitting on the top of the hill in Kalianget village, North Bali, is the gravesite of Jayaprana and Layon Sari, the island’s ‘Romeo’ and his beloved ‘Juliet’.
During the 17th century, a boy named Jayaprana, an exceptionally handsome orphan boy, was adopted by the King of Buleleng. The king came to love him as much as any man could love his own biological child. When Jayaprana attained manhood, the king told him that it was time for him to choose a wife; so handsome Jayaprana searched the entire kingdom and promptly rejected all available candidates – sort of like the Cinderella story but without the glass slipper. Then one day, he met a sweet, young beautiful girl named Layon Sari and instantly fell in love with her.
He brought Layon Sari back to meet the king and there soon followed a royal wedding without equal. But unknown to Jayaprana, the king himself had madly fallen in love with Layon Sari that he hatched a plot to steal her from his adopted son. One day he called Jayaprana into his chamber and claimed that he was fatally ill and needed a special medicinal herb that could only be found in a certain forest. The king told Jayaprana that nobody but his own son could be entrusted with so important a mission.
Being a loving, loyal son, Jayaprana went in search of the herb. And while he was in the forest, the king’s men murdered him. As he drew his dying breath, Jayaprana smiled at the soldiers who then knew they had killed an innocent man. He told the soldiers that he had done no wrong. While en route back to the palace, all the king’s men were consumed by wild animals.
When the news of Jayaprana’s death finally reached the palace, Layon Sari committed suicide and the king went crazy and burned down much of his kingdom and most of its subjects with it.
Jayaprana and Layon Sari were buried together. A temple has been built on the gravesite and is currently being frequented by lovers who come to declare their undying devotion to each other. They ask the spirits of Jayaprana and Layon Sari to bless their relationships and marriages with happiness and peace, which is more than Jayaprana and Layon Sari got to enjoy.
Getting to this special temple is quite a chore, but well worth the trip. The gravesite is located approximately 80 kilometres from Singaraja, near Gilimanuk, from where the ferries depart Bali for Java. After the long drive – the road is good all the way – you’ll need to walk up a long set of steps. Your reward, however, is the view from the hilltop gravesite. The ocean is spread out before your eyes, and you can even see the gorgeous Menjangan Island. It is truly spectacular!