Kerta Gosa Hall Of Justice Overview

The Kerta Gosa Hall of Justice is a historic courthouse adorned with intricate traditional Balinese paintings on its ceilings. Built in the 18th century, it served as a venue for royal courts to administer justice. The hall showcases stunning artwork depicting moral and legal teachings, creating a unique cultural experience.

The Kerta Gosa Hall of Justice, built at the end of the 18th century, is located in the north-east corner of the Klungkung palace and is officially called Puri Agung Semarapura. The palace (Puri) was built by Dewe Agung Jambe I, towards the end of the 17th century, and it currently stands as one of the must-visit places to witness with our Bali package.

The Kerta Gosa complex features Bale Kerta Gosa, Bale Kambang, and Taman Gili. Bale Kerta Gosa is the open pavilion or Royal court of Justice, where litigations that could not be settled by village headmen were brought. Trials were conducted in this Royal Court, under the helm of the King, by the 3 brahmin jurors and judgments passed. 

The ceiling of the Kerta Gosa or Royal Court of Justice is adorned with a series of paintings or murals depicting traditional Kamasan or Wayang style. Each of the six rows of paintings on the ceiling narrates a different story based on the theme adopted from the notable epics like Mahabharata.

The original paintings were done on textile/cloth and parba. The themes portrayed in the paintings include Bhima Swarga, re-incarnation, nirvana, and scenes visualizing portent earthquakes. The paintings not only astound the visitors but also enlighten them about the beliefs, customs, and judicature of the day.

The paintings seem to suggest, the themes were selected to educate complaints about the consequences of their wrongdoings in other worlds and thereby prevent recidivism. The Bale Kambang also referred to as “floating pavilion”, was used by the Royal family to conduct key ceremonies and exequies.

The pavilion in the middle of the pond with lotus flowers and garden around provides a visual treat to the visitors. The insides of Bale Kambang depict paintings of Kamasan style. Paintings depicting tales of Prince Sutasoma and folk stories of Pan, Mr & Mrs. Brayut enchant the visitors. 

A series of historical figurines on either side of the bridge connecting Bale Kambang to mainland mesmerize tourists. Apart from the Royal court hall and Bale Kambang, the visitors can visit the Museum located inside the complex to see and enjoy the historic keepsakes of the Klungkung dynasty that were used in the Royal court.

How To Reach

Bemo (Bali’s open-air minibuses) are available outside the airport road, to ferry passengers from the airport to Kerta Gosa. Tourists may need to change 2 terminals to reach Kerta Gosa. Pre-paid airport taxis carry visitors from Bali airport to Kerta Gosa. The distance between Bali airport and Kerta Gosa is about 44 km. The fare will be around IDR 360,000 (Indian Rs. 1830).

Best Time To Visit

April to October is the best time to visit Kerta Gosa. Though Bali experiences a pleasant atmosphere all around the year, the end of March or early April witnesses low humidity, light drizzle, agreeable climate, and bright sunshine most preferable for sightseeing. 

The best time to visit the Klungkung market known for eateries, souvenirs, and local goods is during the early mornings.

Other Essential Information

Location: Semarapura, Klungkung, Indonesia, Bali.

Timings: 7:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. on all days.

History of Kerta Gosa

The Kerta Gosa complex was commissioned by Dewa Agung Jambe in 1686. Bale Kerta Gosa is the royal court of justice that officiated as the highest seat of Justice to pass a verdict on cases unsolvable by village honchos.

The ceiling of the pavilion is embellished with traditional paintings and murals in Kamasan or Wayang style on textiles and praba. The Dutch during their colonization from 1908 -1942 utilized Kerta Gosa to persecute criminals based on the Continental Law system.

Under the Dutch rule, the penalization changed from capital punishment (death duties Majapahit) to correctional or continental punishment system. The Puri Agung Semarapura or the Klungkung Palace, of which Kerta Gosa is part, was badly damaged during the Dutch invasion in 1908.

The two buildings that survived the attack are Kerta Gosa bale and Bale Kembang along with the main gate. The paintings were renewed in 1918, 1933, and 1963. Individual panels were renovated in the 1980 and 1990s. The original paintings were restituted by traditional Kamasan painters on to asbestos material/plasterboards in Wayang style in 1930.

Again 30 yrs later, in 1960, Pan Semaris Putra from Pan Seken Village, which is renowned for leading Kamasan artists, renovated the paintings. Kerta Gosa suffered damages in the earthquake that struck the Bali country in 1971. A lot of refurbishments were done on the structure in the 20th century. The last of the restorations on Kerta Gosa was carried out in 2014.

Tips for Visiting Kerta Gosa

- Dress modestly covering shoulders and knees. Beachwear is not appreciated at all places.

Respect the religious sentiments of the locals. 

Be cautious and stay away from stray dogs, monkeys, etc. The risk of rabies and other animal-prone diseases is high in Bali.

Keep a close watch on travel advisories. The volcanoes in Bali are highly active and may affect your travel plans.

It pays better not to argue with local police on infringements and pay fines graciously.

Bargain hard, but with a smile. 

Smoking has been forbidden in public since 2011. Don’t smoke in public places.

Blue Bird taxis are known for their honesty. Travel in them, if you can. 

Look for the red flags before attempting to swim at any beach. Treacherous undercurrents are a common phenomenon in most of the beaches.

Eat wisely and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Tap water and unhygienic street food is often the cause of “Bali Belly”.

Drugs are a serious offense in Bali and penalization includes life imprisonment or a death sentence.
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Kerta Gosa Hall Of Justice FAQs

What is the best time of the day to visit Kerta Gosa?

The best time of the day to visit Kerta Gosa is in the morning. The visitors can finish off their shopping in the Klungkung market area early in the morning before local crowds start pouring in and then carry out their expedition of Kerta Gosa.

How do I get to Kerta Gosa via public transport?

Public transport buses ‘bemo’ also known as ‘angkot’ are available outside the airport. Travelers need to get out of the airport, walk in the direction of the domestic terminal and exit to the airport road. The routes are complicated and are well-connected with most towns in Bali. A visitor may need to travel via one or more terminals to get to Kerta Gosa. Travel may be circuitous, but cheap @5000 IDR (Rs. 25) per ride. Fare for foreigners will be a little more.

What is unique about Kerta Gosa?

The Kerta Gosa complex is unique for its art and architecture. The Royal Court house’s ceiling decorated with Wayang style paintings speaks volumes about the culture, beliefs, and justice system of ancient Bali. The Bale Kambang, which is located in the midst of the lotus pond and appears ‘floating’, is a marvel of the creativity of the yesteryear’s engineers. The ‘Taman Gili’ or moated garden is another masterpiece.

How long does it take to go around Kerta Gosa?

It takes half a day to a full day to tour the Kerta Gosa complex that includes Kerta Gosa or Royal Court Hall, Bale Kambang, and Taman Gili along with Museum located inside the Klungkung Palace.

Is the Kerta Gosa near Candidasa Beach?

Yes. Kerta Gosa is 25 km from Candidasa Beach. It is 39 min drive by taxi via Jl. Raya Ulakan-Karangasem. Candidasa Beach can be reached via Jl. Semarapura-Karangasem route, but it takes more than 1 hour.

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