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SMARAPURA – THE BIRTHPLACE OF BALINESE CULTURE – Price US$ 20

SMARAPURA-700Smarapura, once known as Klungkung, is today a sleepy town along Bali’s eastern tourist corridor but it is and was the seat of the last king of Bali who died in a puputan or fight to the death against Dutch invaders in 1908. Only a single gate of the old palace remains today alongside the audience room and court of justice housed inside to water-surrounded ‘ floating pavilions with ceilings painted in classical style showing fanciful but terrifying punishments awaiting wrongdoers. Across the street from the floating pavilions at Kerta Gosa is a monument to the last king and a hundred metres or so south the new palace of the king. Semarapura is famous as a centre of Bali traditional  clothing, including the gold and silver  ‘songket’ as well as silver temple equipment, including bells. Close by at the village of Kamasan classical paintings are still made as well as kepeng statues (Chinse coins) which can be used either for decoration or, after consecration, as holy objects. Klungkung is important in Balinese history because it was in this regency at Gelgel that the Majapahit court was finally etablished ushering in Bali’s ‘golden age’ of spirituality, culture and art. There are numerous doors, gates, statues and carvings scattered around and a venerable temple at Gelgel said to date back 500 years. The royal court was the major patron of painting, carving, sculpture, music, gamelan orchestra, dances and  kris making and many traditional skills, crafts and traditions survive in the regency including kris making at Kusamba, salt making from sea water evaporation along the coast, restaurants specializing in fish and sea food eaten with the fingers seated on a low platform with no chair or table. At the village of Banda the Nyoman Gunarsa Museum of Classical Painting houses a collection unique in Bali and Indonesia including examples of art from palaces and temples up to 500 years old.
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