Building Concept & Symbolism

One of the reasons that the Taman Ujung Water Palace was built was that the King wanted to convey the valuable knowledge obtained from the ancient Sanskrit texts of the Niti Sastra for his Kingdom and the world through symbols, emblems and imagery which can all be found within the palace grounds. (see History)

Do notice that every building, bale, bridge, pond and statue within the palace compound has its own unique purpose and meaning.

Below are the main buildings and features that can be found in the Taman Ujung Water Palace along with a short description of each of its purpose and the meaning behind each symbolic structure.

1. Balai Kambang

Balai Kambang is located in the middle of a pond within the south section of the palace grounds. There is a magnificent stone bridge leading towards Balai Kambang. Notice that there are 6 beautiful arches spanning across the length of the bridge – these symbolizes the 6 enemies which exists within all human beings, called “Sad Ripu”, namely lobha (greed), moha (deceptive emotions), kroda (anger), mada (pride), matsarya (envy), and kama (lust).

The Balai Kambang was also used as a “Kertagosa”, the Balinese term for a Court of Law. Criminals and those who break the law will be brought here for trial. The judge is called “Kerta” which used to be a high-ranking Balinese priest. The Balai was also the place to hold important meetings and to welcome dignitaries and guests of the royal family.

2. Kolam Air (Water Ponds)

Taman Ujung Water Palace comprises of 4 ponds that are spread throughout. One pond is located in the north, two ponds in the south and one last pond with a water fountain is located in its center.

Here are the purposes and use of each pond that are located within the Taman Ujung Water Palace.

Kolam 1 / Pond 1:

This is the famous Dirah pond, adjacent to the Dirah Temple. Back in the day, the King, his court and his subjects believed that Walunateng Dirah (the wife of Mpu Kuturan) was a priestess of Black Magic. The water within the pond is often used the Balinese High Priest to obtain his or her final decision on whether a perpetrator is guilty of wrong-doing or not by spraying the suspect with water from the Dirah Pond.

Kolam 2 and Kolam 3 (Pond number 2 and 3):

These ponds symbolize a scale which represents justice. The two ponds flank the statue of Dewata Nawa Sanga, the deity who rules the specific directions of space (i.e. North, South, East, West) also known as the Guardian of Nine Directions who moves around the moon (Chandra). This entire space symbolizes the idea that a leader should have a character of the moon, which always comforting and calm.

Pond number 2 is located in the north where there is a main building called Balai Gili. Pond number 3 is located in the south side, where there is Balai Kambang and the Fountain is surrounded by Ponds 1, 2 and 3. The base of the fountain is round and is surrounded by 6 statues of angels and 6 flowerpots. The statue of the Goddess Saraswati stands in the middle, holding a water pot from which flows water, symbolizing prosperity and blessings in the form of knowledge.

3. Balai Kapal

One of the water palace’s most popular features with photographers and visitors, the Balai Kapal symbolizes the government. Kapal in this context can be interpreted as an airplane where there is a pilot, steward and stewardess, and also technicians who work together to operate the plane. This idea is the concept used to run the government and to direct the people; that the idea “kapal” is used to direct the people towards prosperity. Today, Balai Kapal’s gorgeous pillars and open roof makes for an outstanding backdrop to a breathtaking picture.

4. Balai Lunjuk

Located in the terraced area of the palace grounds, in the North West, this rectangular building is reachable via a flight of 108 stairs. Balai Lunjuk symbolizes the border between the physical (on the right) and the spiritual (on the left). Back in the day, the King would climb all 108 flight of steps to the very top for a bird’s eye view of his kingdom, the water palace, the gardens and the sea. Visitors to the water palace can do just this today, and enjoy the beautiful and breathtaking panorama with Mount Agung, Manikan Temple and the Warak Statue to the left. To the right, you’ll be able to view the vast ocean as far as they eye can see.

5. Balai Bundar

This circular building was for the private use of the King, who would occupy it whenever he felt the need to meditate. It is believed that through meditation, the King would overcome harrowing challenges and stressful situations as he connects with himself, God and the universe.

6. Balai Bengong

This spacious and rectangular building was used by the King’s servants and subjects to rest in and relax while waiting for the King to call. Guests who are waiting to be presented to the King would also wait at the Balai Bengong and while away time. Bengong, when translated to English, literally means “to daydream”.

7. Balai Gili

Located in the middle of a pond, the Balai Gili is connected by 2 small stone bridges. If you enter from the north, you’ll see 3 arches symbolizing the Tri Kaya Parisudha – an ancient Hinduism texts depicting “Thought About Truth” which are Kayika (good deeds), Wacika (good words), Manacika (good thoughts) or Tri Parartha, which are Asih (love), Punia (care) and Bakti (worship God).

If you were to enter the building from the south, you’ll see 6 arches spanning along the length of the bridge symbolizing sections within the Sad Guna, which represents the 6 different components to a noble leadership:

  • Sandhi (obstacles faces by the King shall be overcome easily, and the ambition of the King shall be reached easily)
  • Wigraha (a leader should be wise, and should be able to see from the right and wrong)
  • Yana (a leader should listen to his people)
  • Sasana (a leader should have a great attitude and good behavior)
  • Adwesa (a leader should not keep hatred in his heart or conduct revenge)
  • Seraya (a leader should be a friend to everybody)
  • Balai Gili is also used as a place to relax for the King and the royal family, and also for royal guests

8. Patung Warak, Singa, Lembu (Warak statue, Lion statue, and Bull statue)

Patung Warak (Rhinoceros Statue), Patung Singa (Lion Statue) and the Patung Lembu (Bull statue) cannot be separated. These three statues are situated in the east side of palace grounds. Along the top, you’ll see the Warak Statue and below, the Lion Statue, and in the lowest part is the Bull Statue. The Warak statue symbolizes wisdom and holiness, the Lion statue symbolizes the King, while the bull statue symbolizes the people. In the past, water would flow from the Warak Statue to the Lion Statue, and continue flowing to the Bull Statue. The entire choreography represents the idea that wisdom and holiness flows from the King to the people.

9. Pura Manikan (Manikan Temple)

Pura Manikan (Manikan Temple) is situated in the north of the palace grounds. It is a holy site, a place where the King and the royal family prayed. It was here in this temple that the King received a vision and the inspiration to design and create the Taman Ujung Water Palace. The King would also pray at Manikan Temple to ask for strength from the Gods to govern his Kingdom.

10. Conclusion

Looking at the Taman Ujung Water Palace from the sky, you will see that the entire layout of the palace grounds was designed to depict a sleeping King with his face towards the sky. Where the head is located is Manikan Temple, the neck is the Warak, Bull and Lion statues are located, the chest is across the Manikan Temple, the stomach is the location of the Bale Gili, Bale Bundar and Balai Kambang while his foot is the sea. It is therefore seen that all elements within the Taman Ujung Water Palace coming together as one symbolic figure and cannot be separated.