Kerta Gosa is a beautiful historical site situated in the hearth of Semarapura Town, about 40 km east side of Denpasar City. The name of Kerta Gosa is taken from Sanskrit where Kerta means serene and meanwhile Gosa word is derive from Gosita that mean established or announced. Thus the meaning of Kerta Gosa is a kind of Bale building where the king announces Judicial Legislation, justice, punishment and so on. Beside of Kerta Gosa, there is a building called by Taman Gili which is located adjacent to Bale Kembang that is a traditional building floating in the center of fish pond.
Built in 1686 by Dewa Agung Jambe, the Gili Garden Kerta Gosa is one of the most attractive cultural heritage sites in Bali today. Kerta Gosa is an open-air building (bale) which was formally part of the Semarapura palace compound.
Located in the heart of Klungkung regency, next to the main market, Kerta Gosa has been restored and maintained by the government. Inside the traditional Balinese’s carved wall there are two buildings standing high beyond the wall, called Bale Akerta Gosa and Bale Kambang. Bale Akerta Gosa is a tall brick building in the right corner of the compound after the entrance and Bale Kambang is the larger one in the middle of the compound surrounded by a pond.
Besides the beautiful architecture of the building, the uniqueness of Kerta Gosa lies in the ceilings of the bale which are covered with traditional paintings in Kamasan style. Kamasan is a village in Klungkung regency which has gained a name for its puppet paintings. Kamasan painting usually takes an epic such as the Ramayana or Mahabharata as the theme of the painting. Kamasan painting is usually found in temples as a meaningful decoration.
Earlier the painting on Kerta Gosa’s ceiling was made on fabric but in 1930 it was restored and painted on plasterboard. The paintings on the ceilings’ of Kerta Gosa offer spiritual lessons. If one looks at it in detail each part of the ceiling tells a different story, there is one part that tells the story of karma and reincarnation and another part illustrates each phase of human life from birth until death. The paintings are divided into six tiers, representing the afterlife, the topmost being nirvana.
The Bale Kambang is a wonderful building in the middle of the pond. The Kamasan painting on the ceiling depicts a story from the Sutasoma epic. Both sides of the bridge to the bale are guarded by a line of statues representing characters from the epic against the background of the lotus pond.
The themes in the paintings show that the building functioned as the place for the royal family to hold religious ceremonies for the rites of passage (manusa yadnya) such as weddings and tooth-filing ceremonies. Kerta Gosa also functioned as the court during the Dutch occupation in Klungkung regency from 1908 to 1942.
Puputan Klungkung Monument
In front of Kerta Gosa complex, exactly across the street, it was stand a stately monument made by black stone in form of Lingga Yoniwith a high of 28 meters and built on 123 meter square land. It is a Puputan Klungkung Monument and inaugurated on 28 April 1992. This monument is a memorial of an historical event on 28 April 1908 where in this monument was Puputan or all out war of the people under the leadership of Klungkung King against the Dutch soldiers. The war is begun because of Klungkung King forbidden to worship at the temple. This is an evident of persistent resistant against Dutch colonial effort to dig its claw into imperialism in Bali. The Klungkung people love freedom, great respect and uphold the majesty and holiness of those who had fallen in battle bloody cause of bullets from Dutch. In the memorial room is equipped with a diorama which depicts the struggle of Klungkung people with their king.