Denpasar Tourist Attractions
Top Tourist Attractions in Denpasar
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.DevelopmentSince 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.HistoryThe 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.There are numerous sites and attractions within a short distance of Denpasar.
Rajas of Badung
The palace of the Rajas of Badung (Puri Pemecutan), now a pleasant small hotel, lies in the angle between Jalan Thamrin and Jalan Hassannudin. Behind a red brick wall are a number of charming buildings set in a luxuriant tropical garden. The contrast could hardly be starker: outside the palace are clamorous traffic and swarms of people, while inside its cocks in wicker baskets crow in peaceful rivalry with one another.The palace was almost completely burned down after the puputan on September 14th 1906, but a year later was rebuilt by the Dutch, though not on its original scale. Notable features are the richly decorated entrance gate and - the only relics of the original palace - a number of fine reliefs towards the rear of the palace precinct. In one building is a collection of lontar (palm-leaf) books which survived the fire, in another some old gamelan instruments.
The Bali National Museum is an architecturally significant complex, containing three separate buildings. Inside of each are an array of items and artifacts of national importance.
Pura Jagat Natha
Immediately to the right of the main exit from the National Museum is the Pura Jagat Natha (Temple of the Rulers of the Worlds), dedicated to Sangyang Widi, who to the Balinese Hindus is the incarnation of Vishnu, the supreme god, and thus the "god of gods". The symbols of divinities in the temple (Sangyang Widi represented as a gleaming gold figure seated on a seven-tiered throne of coralline limestone) are venerated not merely by particular groups of the population but by all Balinese Hindus.
St Joseph's Church
Some 550 m (600 yds) north-east of the National Museum can be found St Joseph's Church (R.C.), in which Christian beliefs are represented in characteristic Balinese style.
This is one of the oldest and most important temples of Denpasar. It was founded by the Majapahit dynasty and dates to the 15th C.
Werdi Budaya Art Centre
Werdi Budaya Art Centre (Jalan Bayusuta) is worth visiting both for the permanent exhibition of Balinese paintings in the main building and for the exhibition of work by both young and established artists for sale.Behind the building is a luxuriant tropical garden with a number of small pools. There is also a large open-air theatre in which performances of Balinese dances are given during the annual Festival of Arts and occasionally at other times.In a small building on the street leading to the Art Centre is a display of work by the German painter Walter Spies.
Academy of Indonesian Dance
Near the Art Centre (Jalan Ratza) is the Academy of Indonesian Dance (Akademi Seni Tari Indonesia, ASTI), in which young Balinese are taught the high art of the traditional dances, the shadow play (wayang kulit) and the playing of the instruments of the gamelan orchestra. In the morning visitors can watch the pupils rehearsing, and in the evening there are performances in which they can demonstrate their skills. (For information about times of performances apply to the Bali Tourist Office in Denpasar.)
In the angle between Jalan Gajah Mada (one of Denpasar's main traffic arteries) and Jalan Sulawesi is the town's largest market, the Pasar Badung, housed in a three-story building. Fresh vegetables and fruit are sold in the basement, handicrafts, textiles, clothing, etc., on the upper floors. The Pasar Badung has its own domestic temple. Round the corner are the fishmongers - half concealed because the Balinese Hindus believe that the sea is inhabited by demons and evil spirits, as no doubt are the creatures that live in it.
Ngurah Rai Airport
Denpasar's Ngurah Rai Airport, named after an Indonesian freedom fighter, is situated 12 km (7.5 mi.) south of Denpasar and 3 km (2mi.) south of Kuta.The left-hand part of the air terminal building is the Domestic Airport for flights within Indonesia; the right-hand part is the International Airport. The central section is the arrivals area.In the arrivals hall are a hotel reservation desk which will also arrange transport to the hotel), telephones and several exchange offices. (Before changing any large sums of money, check the exchange rates offered.)
Map of Denpasar Attractions