Tirta Gangga is a village in East Bali.
Tirta Gangga literally means water from the Ganges and it is a site of some reverance for the Hindu Balinese. Strictly, the name refers to the water palace built here in 1946 by the King of Karangasem. It is though widely used to refer to the general area which includes the water palace and some particularly stunning rural areas around.
If you are driving yourself, Tirta Gangga is on the main east coast road just north of the town of Karangasem (Amlapura) and is fairly well signposted.
This is a great area of Bali in which to walk with many small roads and paths to explore.
The primary draw to Tirta Gangga for visitors is the water palace, a lovely maze of pools and fountains surround by a lush garden and stone carvings and statues. The one hectare complex was built in 1946 by the late King of Karangsem but was destroyed almost entirely by the eruption of nearby Mount Agung in 1963. It has been lovingly re-built and restored.
The centrepiece of the palace is an eleven tiered fountain and there are many beautiful carvings and statues adorning the gardens. This is a great spot to unwind and it has a real atmosphere of old Bali. You can bathe in the pools for a small charge which is additional to the Rp 6,000 entrance fee.
The area around Tirta Gangga holds some stunning rice paddy terraces. Those postcard pictures of Bali rice terraces which you have all seen are usually from photographs taken here.
Lempuyang Temple (Pura Lempuyang Luhur) is about 10 km north of Tirtagangga on the slopes of Mount Lempuyang. This is one of the key nine directional temples on the island. Park in the car park and walk up the steps to the temple. The lower temple is always open but the upper temple (at the top of the dragon staircases) is often locked, so it is best to go with a Balinese driver who will usually be able to arrange for the temple priest to open it up for you. It's situated high up a mountain and there are magnificent sunset views at dusk.
This is a great trekking area with some of the best walks in Bali to suit all levels of fitness. Guides can be arranged easily at the water palace or from your hotel. The areas around Selat and Sideman (off the main Karangasem to Rendang road) are especially good. A good stating point for trekking information and for finding a knowledgeable guide is the Genta Bali restaurant at the water palace.
Take photos. Almost every twist and turn you make in this area presents yet another photo opportunity. The terraced rice paddies and other landscapes are especially attractive but do not neglect the water palace itself.
There are many souvenir shops and stalls at the entrance of the water palace.
Good Karma is a great value, long-established restaurant above the main car park of the water palace.
The Tirta Ayu inside the water palace is a good quality restaurant with a superb aspect looking out over the pools and gardens.
There are several budget accommodation options alongside the main road both south and north of Tirta Gangga. Look for the signs.