In the middle of rice fields and surrounded by jade green hills, Tirta Gangga nestles peacefully and timelessly. Tirta Gangga is a royal water garden belonging to the royal family of Karangasem. It is located in Ababi village, approximately 83km from Denpasar or 6km north of Amlapura, the capital of Karangasem regency. The watergarden was constructed in 1948 on the initiative of the King of Karangasem, Anak Agung Anglurah Ketut Karangasem. The architecture of this water garden is a mix of Balinese architecture style and Chinese style. Before the water garden was constructed, the spring was already there, which was used by the people to fulfill their basic needs for water but also it was believed to be sacred water to purify any bad energy around the area.
The garden’s name literally translates into “Blessed water from the Ganges,” the holy river in India. Tirtagangga itself has a natural spring that is considered holy water, which is used for religious ceremonies as well as for drinking water for the town of Amlapura and for irrigating the local rice paddies.
Entering the garden one can see that there is Mahabharata Pond on the right side that has decorative stones placed around the pond while another functions as a bridge. Statues of Gods and Goddesses majestically stand amidst the pristine cold water. Golden yellow fishes are swimming around, their scales shining as the sun light refracts into the water. Guests are free to roam and play — hopscotch across the playful Mahabharata Pond. This part is the Swah level. In this level, where beside those two decorative ponds, there is also a swimming pool where the locals or visitors can enjoy swimming in the cold spring as it’s open for public.
The area of the water garden is as large as 1,2 ha, consisting of three levels of ground stretching from east to west. In the middle level, Bwah level, the eleven-tiered Nawa Sanga fountain stands elegantly. And in the Bhur level, on the left side of the straight foot-path from the entrance to the west there is a big pond with an island in the middle.
The spring has a huge output of pure water. One third of the flow is to provide drinking water for the town Amlapura. Some flow to the upper swimming pool through an underground pipe while the overflow goes into the lower swimming pool, the other ponds and to irrigate the rice fields surrounding the water garden.
This place is great for escaping from the heat as the weather in the area is less tropical. Taking a relaxing walk or dipping your feet into the cold water is as enjoyable as taking some snapshots of the picturesque scene.