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Denpasar covers 125,42 square kilometers of land with an elevation ranging from 12 to 75 meters above sea level , and consisting of 3 Kecamatan, The Kecamatan of East Denpasar, South Denpasar, and West Denpasar. The population of Denpasar is about 600,000 people. Even thought the town is relatively busy, especially its crisscrossing traffic, the atmosphere in this town remains pleasant because of the relaxed Bali influence. The average temperature in this town is 28 degrees Celsius; the humidity varies between 60 and 97%
Denpasar Places of interest
JAGAT NATHA TEMPLE
WERDI BUDAYA Art centre;
Denpasar is the bustling commercial heart of Bali. JI. Gajah Mada is the main street, running east-west. It changes names to Jl. Dr. Wahidin to the west and Jl. Surapati to the east. The center of commercial activity is on JI. Diponegoro and JI. Teuku Umar. Prices in US dollars. AC = Air conditioning. Telephone code is 0361.
The airport taxi co-op counter is outside customs, near "left luggage". The set fare is Rp 35,000 to Denpasar. Buy a ticket at the counter for the sedan taxis. To take a bemo, walk out to the main road as far as the impressive white charioteer statue on the corner (about 1.5 km). From there, flag down a blue bemo van-it will take you down to "bemo corner" in Kuta for Rp1.500, where you can get another bemo to Denpasar. Metered taxis operate outside the airport-make sure they start the Argo meter before you take off.
Denpasar is a "village-city" with an aristocratic past. Born from the ashes of the defeated Pemecutan court following the Puputan massacre of 1906, Denpasar became a sleepy administrative outpost during Dutch times. Since independence, and especially after it was made the capital of Bali in 1958, it has been transformed into a bustling city of some 350,000 souls that provides administrative, commercial and educational services not only to booming Bali, but to much of eastern Indonesia as well. Denpasar is the most dynamic city east of Surabaya, and arguably the richest in the country - there are more vehicles per capita here than in Jakarta.
New city, old villages
Originally a market town - its name literally means "east of the market" - Denpasar has far outgrown its former boundaries, once defined by the Pernecutan, Jero Kuta and Satriya palaces and the brahmanical houses Tegal, Tampak gangsul and Gemeh. Spurred in all directions by population pressures motorized transport, urban growth is little enveloping the neighboring villages obliterating the surrounding rice fields, leaving a new urban landscape in its wake housing estates in the midst of rice fields in the middle of the city.
To the northeast, urbanization spills across the Ayung River into the village Batubulan, famous for its barong dance where the conservatory of dance has recently been relocated. To the south, it reaches Sanur and even to Kuta, whiles the Bukit it is now subjected to a frenzy of land speculation. To the northwest, it sprawls as far Kapal, whose beautiful temple now has to seen above the din and dust of suburban traffic.
This unchecked growth has swallowed many old villages of the plain, yet in many ways they remain as they were - their arc architecture focused around open courtyard they have intact their intricate temples collective Banjars. The power structure its although adapting to new urban tasks and occupations, has also not changed much. Local satriyas, be they hotel managers or civil servants, remain princes - they still have control of land and territorial temples and M mobilize their "subjects" for ceremonies
Local Brahmans are even more powerful continuing to provide ritual services for their followers and occupying some of the best positions in the new Bali. Thus Denpasar is a showcase of Balinese social resiliency - still "Bali" and worth a visit for its gates, its shrines and its royal mansions.
But Denpasar is nevertheless a modern city. Shops, roads and markets have conquered the wet rice field areas allowed to be leased and sold by village communities. Here, urbanization has taken on the same features found elsewhere in Indonesia - rows of gaudily-painted shops in the business districts; pretty villas along the "protocol" streets; narrow alleys, small compounds and tiny houses in the residential areas.
This new urban space continues to welcome waves of new immigrants - Balinese as well as non-Balinese. As such, it represents an experiment in national integration. Inland Balinese indeed make up the majority of the population. The northerners and southern princes and Brahmans were here first. Early beneficiaries of a colonial education, they took over the professions and the main administrative positions and constitute, together with the local nobility, the core of the native bourgeoisie. Their villas - with their roof temples, neo-classical columns and Spanish balconies - are the modern "palaces" of Bali.
More recently, a new Balinese population has settled here, attracted by jobs as teachers, students, nurses, traders, etc. Strangers among the local "villagers," these Balinese are the creators of a new urban landscape and architecture. Instead of setting up traditional compounds with their numerous buildings and shrines, they build detached houses with a single multi-purpose shrine. In religious matters, they are transients - retaining ritual membership in their village of origin, praying to gods and ancestors from a distance through the medium of the new shrine. They return home for major ceremonies, to renew themselves at the magical and social sources Of their village of origin.
Apart from the Balinese majority, there are several non-indigenous minorities in Denpasar, comprising a quarter of the total Population. Muslim Bugis came to Bali as mercenaries as early as the 18th century. They have their own "banjar' in the village of Kepaon, where they live alongside the Balinese, speaking their language and intermarrying with them. Old men of Pemecutan will show you a "Bugis" shrine in a small temple near the family cremation site.
The Chinese came early as traders for the local princes. They integrated easily, blending their Chinese and Balinese ancestry. They also have a shrine, the Ratu Subandar or "merchant king's" shrine up in Batur, next to the shrines of Balinese ancestral gods. New Chinese, often Christians, have arrived, attracted by the booming economy of Bali.
There are also Arabs and Indian Moslems who came in the thirties as textile traders and have since become one of the most prosperous local communities. They live in the heart of the city, in the Kampung Arab area, where they have a mosque.
Most migrants, however, are Javanese and Madurese, known collectively as "jawa." They fill the ranks of the civil service and the military (Sanglah and Kayumas areas) as well as the working classes, skilled and unskilled (Pekambingan, Kayumas, "Kampung Jawa" areas). New actors on the Balinese social stage, they introduce new habits - food selling, peddling, etc. They are also builders of new housing: shacks and tiny houses that bring Denpasar into line with other cityscapes of modern Indonesia.
Thus Denpasar is very much a place where the theme of nation-building is played out. It brings together within earshot of one another the high priest's mantra, the muezzin's call, and the parson's prayer. "Eka Wakya, Bhinna Srutti" - "The Verbs are One, the Scriptures are Many" - so goes the local saying. Balinese tolerance within a national tolerance.
Nation-building is also very much a Balinese concern. It is "Indonesia" and "development" overtaking Bali. Denpasar is the center from which the national language, Bahasa Indonesia, is spreading to other parts of the island. One speaks Indonesian here interspersed with Balinese words. Through Denpasar, Bali is surrendering its most potent cultural force: its language.
Denpasar is also the breeding ground for a revamped traditional culture. It is here that the concepts of Balinese Hinduism are being re-Indianized by the Parisada Hindu Dharma (Religious Council of Hinduism), beyond the maze of Bali's old lontars and oral traditions. The Supreme God, Widhi, here assumes precedence, relegating the ancestors to minor functions. New prayers are taught (Tri Sandhya) and new government priests officiate, called from Denpasar to the villages for the rites of officialdom and for inter-caste rituals. Reversing the old village-based trend,
Denpasar is also home to the New Arts. New dances and music are created and taught spreading into the villages from the city.
Last, but not least, Denpasar is the home of a new breed of Balinese. Born to th sounds of a new music, raised in a world o new wishes and desires, taught in the word of a new national language and culture, the young of Denpasar are Jakarta-looking rather' than Bali-oriented. Their thoughts take for in a world of Kuta discos and lavish Sanur villas. They are the avant-gardes of a new Westernized Indonesia. Resilience, renew and decadence - Denpasar will in any case be the stage for a new Bali.
As a microcosm both of modern Bali and modern Indonesia, Denpasar is easier to understand than to see. Nevertheless, it awaits the intelligent traveler who wants to learn about the future as well as the past, and who wishes to take home more than just a few images. So forget your lens for awhile. Forget the traditional village Bali; have a look at the new urban Bali.
In the very heart of Denpasar, just behind the main artery of the city, Jalan Gajah Mada one can see many traditional compound with their gates, shrines and pavilions, in among the multi-story Chinese shop fronts Shrines dwarfed by parabolic TV antenna Gods of the past versus gods of the future?
For a more typical look at Denpasar's villages, a drive through the streets of the "villages" of Kedaton, Sumerta, and particularly Kesiman will do. Kesiman has some of the best examples of the simple, yet attractive Badung brick-style. Alas, dying witness to a passing grandeur, the Badung brick-style is disappearing, replaced by the new baroque of the Gianyar-style, and the ugliness of reinforced concrete.
Of the temples, the most ancient is Pura Maospahit, right in the middle of the city on the road to Tabanan. It dates back to the Javanization of Bali in the 14th century. No less interesting, although more recent, are the temples of the royal families: Pura Kesiman with its beautiful split gate, Pura Satria and its lively bird market, and Pura Nambang Badung near the princely compounds of Pemecutan and Pemedilan.
A "modern" temple is also worth a visit the Pura Jagatnatha, right on the central square of the city next to the museum. Built as a "world" (Yagat) temple, its tallest building is a big padmasana "lotus-throne" shrine that symbolizes the world as the seat of ParamaSiwa, the "Supreme Siwa." Modern Hindu intellectuals meet there for full-moon religious readings - a barometer of Bali's new monotheism.
Among the palaces, the most typical is the Jero Kuta, which still has all the functional structures of a traditional princely compound. The Pemecutan Palace has been transformed into a hotel. The Kesiman Palace, a Private mansion, houses the most elaborate family temple.
For a look at examples of traditional Balinese architecture, one might visit the Bali Museum, right on Taman Puputan square. The good, yet ill-presented collections are kept in buildings illustrative of the Tabanan, Karangasern and Badung styles.
For a look at modern Bali, go first to Taman Puputan square. Facing the museum and the Jagatnatha Temple one sees the heavy-set, new military headquarters. On the far right, the Balinese Catur Mukha "God of the Four Directions" gazes impassively through one of its four faces at the statue of the fallen heroes of the puputan. The Javanese-pendopo-styled governor's residence closes the inventory of power symbols in the center of town. "Chinese" Denpasar and the main markets are a few blocks away, on JI. Gajah Mada, JI. Tharmin and A. Hasanuddin.
For modern Balinese architecture, do not miss the new administrative complex in Renon. It is a landmark made to stay, a projection of Balinese architects into their own future. Go also to the Werdhi Budaya Art Center. New shrine of the island's culture, it hosts a museum of the Balinese arts as well as stages for dance and theater. On its monumental Ksira Arnawa stage are held equally monumental displays of modern Balinese choreography. For the local color, definitely don't miss the Pasar Malam Pekambingan night and food market.
The black and white checkered cloth standard of Bali's netherworld is nowhere more aptly hung than on the ancient coral statues and shrines of Bali's largest traditional village: Sanur. This was Bali's first beach resort a place of remarkable contrasts.
Sanur today is a golden mile of Baliesque hotels that has attracted millions of paradise seeking globetrotters. And yet, within the very grounds of the 11-story The Grand Bali Beach Hotel, a war-reparation gift from the Japanese, nestles the sacred and spiky temple of Ratu Ayu of Singgi, the much feared spirit consort of Sanur's fabled Black Barong.
Sanur is famous throughout Bali for its sorcery. Black and white magic pervades the coconut groves of the resort hotels like an invisible chess game. And yet the community is modern and prosperous.
Sanur is one of the few remaining Brahman kuasa villages in Bali controlled by members of the priestly caste - and boasts among its charms some of the handsomest processions on the island, Bali's only all female keris dance, the island's oldest stone inscription, and the hotel world's most beautiful tropical garden. Even the souvenirs sold on the beach - beautifully crafted kites and toy outriggers are a cut above those found on the rest of the island.
Just a stone's throw from any of Sanur's beachside hotels lies one of a string of very ancient temples. Characterized by low coral walled enclosures sheltering platform altars, this style of temple is peculiar to the white sand stretch of Sanur coast, from Sanur harbor in the north to Mertasari Beach in the south. Inside, they are decorated with fanciful fans of coral and rough-hewn statuary, often ghoulishly painted but always wrapped in checkered sarong.
The rites performed at the anniversary celebrations of these temples are both weir and wonderful the celebrants often dancing with effigies strapped to their hips, while the priests are prone to wild outbursts launching themselves spread-eagled onto platform of offerings and racing entrance pell-mell into the sea.
The Sanur area, with traditional Intaran at its heart, has evidently been settled since ancient times. The Prasasti Belanjong, inscribed pillar here dated A.D. 913, is Bali' earliest dated artifact now kept in a temple. in Belanjong village in the south of Sanur. It tells of King Sri Kesari Warmadewa of the Sailendra Dynasty in Java, who came to Bali to teach Mahayana Buddhism and the founded a monastery here. One may presume that a fairly civilized community then exist the Sailendra kings having built Borobudur in Central Java at about this time.
It is interesting that the village square of Intaran is almost identical to that of Songan village on the crater lake of Mt. Batur - particularly the location and size of the bale, agung, the wantilan community hall and associated buildings. The priests of Sanur-Intaran are often mentioned in historical chronicles dating from Bali's "Golden Age" the 13th to the 16th centuries. It was not until the early 19th century, however, that the king of the Pemecutan court in Denpasar saw fit to place his satriya prince lings outside the village's medieval core.
Before that, Sanur consisted of Brahman griya (mansions) in Intaran and several attendant communities the Brahman banjar of Anggarkasih, the fishing village of Belong (which still holds a yearly baris gede warrior dance at the Pura Dalem Kedewatan temple near the Grand Bali Beach Hotel), and the village of Taman, whose Brahmans have traditionally served as the region's chief administrator or perbekel. Taman is also home to an electric barong troupe complete with an impish telek escort, a pas de deux by the freaky jauk brothers and a spine-tingling last act featuring the evil witch Rangda all amidst fluttering poleng checkered banners.
It was in the mid-19th century that Sanur was first recorded by Europeans as more than just a dot on the map. Mads Lange, a Kuta based Danish trader, at this time mentions the special relationship that the perbekel of Sanur enjoyed with his great friend the king of Kesiman, Cokorda Sakti.
In a less flattering light, it was also a perbekel of Sanur who turned a blind eye to the landing of Dutch troops here in 1906 on their way to the massacre of the royal house of Pemecutan - one of the most ignoble days in Dutch colonial history. The full story has been immortalized by 1930s Sanur habitu6e Vicki Baum in her book, A Tale of Bali.
The BBC has a film of a Sanur trance medium "possessed" by the spirit of a beer swilling English sea captain (possibly from one of the merchant vessels which foundered on Sanur's coral reefs) - to whose semi-divine memory a trance baris, called Ratu Tuan, is performed by the Semawang Banjar. The costume: Chinese kung-fu pajamas of black and white checkered cloth.
The first half of the 20th century also saw Sanur's emergence as prime real estate for the Bali-besotted. Beach bungalows in what Miguel Covarrubias referred to as, "the malarial swamps of Sanur," were built by, among others, Dr. Jack Mershon and his choreographer wife Katharane (inventor, with Walter Spies, of the very checkered kecak dance), writer Vicki Baum, anthropologist Jane Belo (author of Trance in Bali); and art-collector Neuhaus, who was killed by a stray bullet during a skirmish between local guerillas and Japanese occupation forces in 1943, while playing bridge on the verandah of his home - site of the present-day Hotel Sindhu Beach.
These early "Baliphiles" hosted a steady stream of celebrity visitors to the island during the 1930s, including Charlie Chaplin, Barbara Hutton, Doris Duke and Harold Nicholson. It was probably more from the travel reports of these sophisticates than from the movie with a sarong-draped Dorothy Lamour that Bali traces its fame abroad.
Bali's most famous expatriate of this era, artist-writer-musician Walter Spies, was a frequent visitor to the shores of Sanur, but it is to one particular visit that we may trace his aversion for coastal Bali. It was the day of a lunar eclipse and the birthday of Spies young nephew who was visiting him in Bali. A Balinese soothsayer warned the boy not to go near the water that day, but he defied the warning and swam in Sanur, where he was taken by a shark. A weird coincidence: the Balinese symbol for an eclipse is the giant toothed mouth of the demon spirit Kala Rauh devouring the moon goddess.
Not long after Indonesia proclaimed independence in 1945, Sanur witnessed the beginnings of an expatriate building boom led by Belgian painter Le Mayeur, whose former studio home on the beach north of the Grand Bali Beach Hotel is now a museum. Le Mayeur's heavenly courtyard was the inspiration for his breast, nymph-filled paintings.
Australian artists Ian Fair-weather and Donald Friend, whose marvelous books and paintings have inspired a generation of Australians, also chose picturesque Sanur for their Bali retreats. Donald Friend lived here in imperial splendor with an in-house gamelan and Bali's finest art collection within the grounds of the dream he founded Batu jimbar Estates - now home to the world weary and the grand.
At about the same time, two Sanur brahmans were leaving their mark on the community The first, high priest Pedanda Gede Sidemen was entering the twilight of a prolific career which spanned 70 years as south Bali's most significant temple architect, healer and classical scholar. His life, and the pride he brought to his native Sanur, was to inspire a generation of Sanur Brahmans who may otherwise have contemplated abandoning their Vedic scriptures for a life on the juice blender.
The second, Ida Bagus Berata nephew of Pedanda Sidemen insisted his
tenure as mayor of Sanur from 1968 to 1986 that the area should be economically
as well as culturally autonomous. To that end, Ratu Perbekel, as he
was affectionately know Established a village-run cooperative that to
this day operates a beach market, a restaurant, a car-wash and service
station, and owns land in Kuta and Denpasar. This strident new economic
approach provided a friendly environment for the establishment of many
other Sanur-based tourist businesses.
Serangan is a small island lying just off Bali's southern coast near Sanur. It has an area of only 180 acres and a population of about 2,500, and is known principally for its turtles and its important Sakenan Temple.
Serangan is too dry for wet rice farming, but its residents grow corn, maize, peanuts and beans. Some islanders earn a living making shell trinkets to sell to the tourists who come here in ever increasing numbers. But the trade in another distinctive item is even more crucial to the local economy.
The sea turtles which give Serangan its popular name are not found swimming picture squely under ocean cliffs - here they are caught and sold as food. People in the Denpasar area are fond of turtle meat, especially on festival days. Serangan residents make a living capturing and wholesaling the creatures, also buying them from Muslim fishermen from islands to the east.
The turtles are kept live in bamboo sheds on the sandy beach around Dukuh, the island's main village on the north coast. Here they are fed with fresh leaves and sold to buyers from Denpasar, who will eventually prepare the turtle meat in dishes like sate and lawar, a kind of tartare or raw meat dish.
There is also a turtle-egg hatchery on the island. The most popular edible species is the green turtle (Chelonia mydas), which swims ashore to lay eggs in a shallow pit in the sand before returning to the sea. It is at this moment that villagers catch the turtles effortlessly and in large numbers, just by turning them on their backs. The eggs are considered a great delicacy, and are dug up immediately. Not surprisingly, the green turtle is now threatened with extinction and the World Wide Fund for Nature has consequently appealed to the government to put a stop to the slaughter.
The best day to visit Serangan is on the holy day Manis Kuningan in the 210-day Balinese calendar. On this day, the famous Sakenan Temple celebrates the anniversary of its founding by Mpu Kuturan, which according to the Prasasti Belanjong inscription occurred during the 10th century. The Sakenan complex consists of two pura on the north coast of the island just west of Dukuh.
The festival lasts for two days, beginning on the last day of Kuningan wuku or week and ending on the first day of Langkir wuku. The ferry from Suwung, normally serving the odd tourist or a few villagers coming from Serangan to do their marketing, is at this time chock-a-block with thousands of worshippers in all their colorful finery. They queue up on the dike of a canal meandering through the mangroves to board a ferry which takes them straight to the temple.
Inside the first pura there is only a single shrine, in the form of a tugu or obelisk. This is the seat of Cri Cedana or Dewi Sri, the goddess of prosperity and welfare. In the second and larger part of Pura Sakenan there are typical Balinese-style shrines for the prasanak, relatives of Sri who come to visit the temple on its anniversary day.
On arrival, worshippers pray at the shrine of Dewi Sri to ask her for
a prosperous year in the fields or in business. But it is obvious that
this day is most prosperous for the ferrymen, who earn a lot more money