“I found myself deeply drawn to the task of seeing Tirta Gangga become a place of great beauty and to assist in a restoration for the Balinese people.” —Michael Honack, benefactor and driving force behind Tirta Gangga’s restoration, in fulfillment of his dedication to preserving global cultural legacies)
During the 37 years he ruled as the Raja of Karangasem, at the time one of the nine Balinese Kingdoms under Dutch control, Anak Agung Anglurah Ketut Karangasem built, as well as improved upon, a number of important Balinese water palaces. The Raja loved the water gardens, and visitors were often surprised and fascinated to find him working knee-deep in mud among his laborers. Tirta Gangga was built in 1946, but the one-hectare complex was nearly destroyed by the eruption of nearby Mount Agung in 1963. The gardens, large pools, statues, and flowing water features have been painstakingly restored to their former magnificence, including a centerpiece eleven-tiered fountain. The water of Tirta Gangga, whose name means Sacred Water of the Ganges, has always been regarded as holy and is regularly used for religious temple ceremonies.
Inside the walls of Tirta Gangga lies a garden comprised mainly of fresh-water pools fed by a flow of 500,000 gallons per day. The sacred water moves through three immense pools dedicated to fish and flowering water plants, and two swimming pools. There are walking paths throughout the garden for viewing the pools, fish, flowering plants and tropical greenery that have been meticulously planted over the years. Over time and with the continual plantings, the garden has become more and more lush; the once-bare stone walls that contain the water palace have been slowly covered by a blanket of vibrant green foliage and radiant blossoms.
As part of the ongoing effort to improve Tirta Gangga, a cluster of superb statues created by a master sculptor in Karangasem was placed in the area where the Raja would spend much of his day composing poetry and meditating. The circle of statues represents the virtuous Balinese man and woman and the dualistic array of positive and negative influences, spiritual supporters, and demonic tempters. Photography by Kyer Wiltshire
“I am happy that the renovation ensures the continuous existence of Tirta Gangga as an important asset for my whole Royal family while providing a legacy for future generations as well.” —A.A.G.D. Widoere Djelantik