Denpasar Tourist Attractions
Denpasar (Badung), or rather its airport at Ngurah Rai, is usually the point of arrival for visitors to Bali. Since the completion of the four-lane Jalan Bypass, however, they are likely to see little of the city itself as they head right away for one of the tourist resorts.
Denpasar has been the island's chief town and administrative center, the seat of the governor of the province of Bali, since 1936, when it took over these functions from Singaraja in the north of the island. In that year, too, it took the name of Denpasar ("New Market"): previously it had been called Badung, like the district in which it lies. The local people still refer to their town as Badung.
Seeing the places of interest in Denpasar on foot is not to be recommended. For one thing the individual sights tend to be some distance apart and are most easily visited by taxi; and in any case a walk through the noisy and crowded streets of the city is a torment rather than a pleasure.
Since the 1960s Denpasar has enjoyed a massive boom, one of the consequences of which has been an alarmingly high concentration of population in and around the city. There are now over 930 people to the sq. km (2410 to the sq. mile) in this area, compared with 250 to the sq. km (650 to the sq. mile) in the western part of the island.
The problems now facing Denpasar are enormous - bad air, environmental pollution, dense traffic and too many people hoping to earn their living in the tourist centers within easy reach of the capital. As a result Denpasar is expanding ever farther and at many points is joining up with independent townships in its immediate surroundings.
The Raja of Badung was one of the first rulers to accept colonial rule, and signed a treaty to this effect in 1841. He hoped that this would lead the Dutch to leave the province of Badung undisturbed and allow him a degree of independence. And so it proved for a period of 63 years, until an unfortunate incident in 1904. On the night of May 27th in that year the Chinese schooner "Sri Kumala" ran aground on the coast off Denpasar. The vessel was looted by the Balinese, whereupon the owner claimed compensation, at first from Raja Agung Made and later, when this produced no result, from the Dutch. After fruitless negotiations the Dutch presented an ultimatum to the Raja and proceeded to throw siege lines round Denpasar. When the Raja declared that he would not give in to the ultimatum they drew the ring more tightly round the town and prepared on September 14th 1906 to take it.
Subsequent events on that day have etched the period of Dutch colonial rule indelibly in the memory of the Balinese. When the Dutch forces marched on the Raja's palace the gates opened and a long train of people, headed by the Raja himself in a litter, advanced slowly to meet the invaders. The procession came to a halt only a few yards from the Dutch, and a Brahman priest took the Raja's jewel-encrusted kris and plunged it in his master's heart. This example was followed by all the others, and men, women and children all met their death in the same way. The Dutch forces were at first taken aback by this turn of events, but then took up their weapons and shot those Balinese who had not died in this ritual mass suicide (puputan). The palace was set on fire and almost completely destroyed.
The example set by the Raja of Badung and his people was followed on the same day by the Raja of Pemecutan and later by the Raja of Tabanan, whom the Dutch had thrown into prison in Badung. In 1908 there was a similar puputan in Klungkung in which 250 people died.
Thereafter the Dutch were exposed to increased international pressure, and in 1914 they replaced their military forces by a detachment of police.