Kertha Gosa

Kertha Gosa Bali Heritage Royal Court

Kertha Gosa is a beautiful historical site situated in the hearth of Semarapura Town, about 40 km east side of Denpasar City. The name of Kertha Gosais taken from Sanskrit where Kerta means serene and meanwhile Gosa word is derive from Gosita that mean established or announced.

Thus the meaning of Kertha Gosais a kind of Bale building where the king announces Judicial Legislation, justice, punishment and so on. Beside of Kertha 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.

Kertha Gosa forms part of the Puri Semarapura royal palace and features two main structures – a grand hall or the namesake Bale Kerta Gosa with ceilings filled with Kamasan or wayang-style paintings, and the Bale Kambang ‘floating hall’. Kertha Gosa complex dates back to 1686 when it was commissioned by Dewa Agung Jambe, then ruler of the Klungkung kingdom. Kerta Gosa has undergone a series of restorations in the past and is one of Bali’s most important historical sites. The site is open for the public to visit.

Kertha Gosa Overview

Kertha Gosa and Taman Gili Building can not be separated with the establishment of Semara Pura Palace. The Semara Pura Palace is established by I Dewa Agung Djambe, the first king of Klungkung around 1686. The painting that decorate Kertha Gosa ceiling are the painting with the story motif like Ni Diah Tantri, Bima Swarga, Garuda and Palelindon those are arranged in form of panels with 9 levels. The paintings are begun from the east panel with the story in the direction of circumambulation (turning to the right as clockwise) and finish at the north panel.

Taman Gili Kerta Gosa features spacious and open halls inside a walled compound. Unique and traditional Balinese architecture can be seen throughout the gates, walls and main structures, and the main distinctive highlight of Kerta Gosa are the painted ceilings in the halls.

These paintings feature a technique often described as Kamasan style. Kamasan itself is a village in Klungkung that has become renowned for its typical style of paintings of wayang or traditional Balinese shadow puppetry figures. Kamasan paintings generally take inspiration from notable Hindu epics such as the Ramayana or the Mahabharata. Kamasan style can also be found in temples.

The paintings that adorn the ceilings of the Kertha Gosa halls were made on textile, yet a series of restoration projects carried out in 1930 had the pieces repainted onto plasterboards. The paintings depict spiritual teachings and guidance. When studied in detail, each of the pieces tells a different tale, one section may be of karma and reincarnation, and others of each phase of the human life from birth to death and the path to Nirvana.

The Bale Kambang is surrounded by a moat. The paintings on its ceilings depict the tales from an old Javanese Sutasoma epic, with Prince Sutasoma as its protagonist. Both sides of the bridges towards this ‘floating hall’ are adorned by guardian statues that depict characters from the epic and all surround a moat filled with lotuses. The hall structures served as a main place for the royal family to conduct important rituals and rites of passage. It also served as a court during the Dutch occupancy in Klungkung from 1908 to 1942.

The History of Kertha Gosa

Kertha Gosa is founded in 18 century and it has a lot of changed in 20 century. These building have been renovated after earthquake that brought much destroy in year 1971. The most unique of this building is the ceiling made from the asbestos material fully decorated by the traditional painting with Kamasan style famous in 1930. Thirty years later in 1960, Pan Semaris Putra from Pan Seken has restored and renewed according to the original style.

During the Dutch colonization (1908 – 1942), Kertha Gosa is still used as a court to persecute the violators especially criminal. In line with the colonial administration, the Indonesian Law has changed from the legal system Majapahit heritage (Traditional) into the continental law system which is brought by the Dutch. The changes of the system are not means to retaliation, but improve the perpetrator to be accepted back into their society. By this concept, the word of Penjara (Jail) has changed into Lembaga Pemasyarakatan (LP).

The ceiling of Taman Gili Building that is fully decorated by the traditional painting to persuade the violators to not repeat the offense (recidivism) because the Hindu society in Bali have heard the story of Bima Swarga that has been visualized on this building. Realized and believed, beside of the prison sentence they got, it has been waiting for the punishment of the hereafter is more terrible and feared in form of fire prosecution by Cikabakala. Hopefully, after the seeing these visuals, the violators realize against the crime resulted in suffering, hence it can prevent the recidivism.

Bima Swarga is an excerpt from Mahabaratha epic that share the experience of Bima, one of princes from Panca Pandawa, when searching the spirit of his father in the afterlife is saying tortures. Many events have been seen at one given the answer to all the questions why the soul or spirit were there and tortured.

Another building is Bale Kambang (Floating Bale). It is so called because it looks as floating on the water pond where inside of pond growth the lotus flowers. This Bale Kambang has survived from the damage cause by the Puputan war in 1908, but the current building is the result of the improvement and expansion done in 1942.

Its function is as a place to welcome the VIP Guest by Dewa Agung King. The paintings decorate the ceiling can be divided into three levels includes:

  • First level represents the astrological calendar that give the standard (forecast) to the Balinese community about the goodness and badness day to conduct the certain activities.
  • Second Level represents Mr and Mrs Brayut depicting daily social life in Bali. By this story, it can be explained to the royal guests about the Balinese social life.
  • The third level is an excerpt from the story of Sutasoma, a half god hero who represent the anti violation and wise leadership that elicits the subtle power.

Public Facilities

  • Parking Area
  • Public Toilet
  • Souvenir Shop
  • Restaurant
  • Drink Stall