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Kerta Gosa (Courts of Justice)

Kerta Gosa 1

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 Kambang that is a traditional building floating in the center of fish pond.


Kerta 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 Kerta 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.

The History

Kerta 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), Kerta 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.

Bale Kambang

The ceiling of the beautiful “Floating Pavilion” is painted in Klungkung style. Again, the different rows of paintings deal with various subjects. The first row is based on the astrological calendar, the second on the folk tale of Pan and Men Brayut and their children, and the upper rows on the adventures of the hero Sutasoma

Museum Semarajaya

There are a few archeological pieces and some quite interesting contemporary accounts of the 1908 Puputan on display in this simple museum. The physical form is blend the ancient Dutch style and Balinese traditional architectures.  We can discover the ancient objects (pre-history), historical objects included the photographs documentation from the descendants of Klungkung King and craft objects that contain the typical history of Klungkung. There are old photos of the royalty and displays in English as well. The rigors of salt production along the nearby coast are well documented.

How to get to Kertagosa :
1. 1 hours from Sanur
2. 30 minutes from Gianyar
3. 45 minutes from Candidasa

What you can see around Kerta Gosa :
1. Puputan Klungkung Monument, The big nation is the nation that could appreciate his hero’s services, that is the series of word motifated the regional Regency government of Klungkung to build the Puputan Klungkung Monument in order to recalls and appreciates services of the heroes who fell and was willing to sacrifice his body and soul as well as his property in maintaining and holding the self-esteem from the rape by colonial.
2. Goa Lawah Temple, The temple is known as Bat cave temple and one of tourist’s stop for sightseeing to East Bali. The location is on the stop of a hill on the beach. The view of Nusa Penida Island across the sea is a beautiful panorama. The name of Goa Lawah means cave of bats. Where hundreds of hanging bats are never leave the cave, only flying around the area and back again. Beside bats there are snakes which some times sleeping among the cliff on the mouth of the cave.

Kerta Gosa 2


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