Lempuyang Temple, locally referred to as Pura Lempuyang Luhur, is one of Bali’s oldest and most highly regarded temples, on par with Besakih (aka the ‘mother temple’ of Bali). It is also believed to predate the majority of Hindu temples on the island. Definitely a highlight on any travel itinerary for the fit and adventurous, the main temple lies at 1,175m above sea level, up on the peak of the namesake Mount Lempuyang in East Bali. The heights are reachable via a steep staircase of over 1,700 steps, with attractions along the way including several other temples and hordes of grey long-tailed macaques that inhabit the surrounding cool mountain forests.
The Tirta Gangga royal water garden is a favourite retreat in the regency of Karangasem, east Bali. It was built in 1946 during the reign of the late raja of Karangasem, Anak Agung Anglurah Ketut Karangasem (1887 – 1966). Tirta Gangga saw a series of restorations following the destructive hot showers of volcanic ash from the 1963 Mount Agung eruption. The lavish water gardens owned by the royal Karangasem family feature 1.2ha of pools, ponds and fountains surrounded by neatly cut lawns adorned with stepping stones, ornate statues and tropical gardens. Tirta Gangga is located in the village of Ababi, an approximate 75km east of Denpasar. The complex is a cool retreat in the eastern highlands, perched on the south-eastern slope of the island’s highest mountain, Mount Agung.
Taman Ujung ‘water palace’, with its complete and official designation of Taman Sukasada Ujung, is located in the village of Seraya in Karangasem regency. It is the sister site of Tirta Gangga, also built by the late raja of Karangasem. The complex consists of various large pools and historic structures set against a backdrop of Mount Agung and the eastern shoreline. The site suffered near devastation by showers of hot ash following the eruption of nearby Mount Agung in 1963, and also weathered an earthquake in 1979. Restoration efforts throughout the decades made way to its current splendour, and it continues to appeal to both locals and visitors.