NORTH BALI PLACES | SINGARAJA

Singaraja is an old harbor town, centrally located at the north coast of Bali. It is the second largest town of Bali (approx. 100,000 inhabitants). It was once the former colonial capital of Bali and now the capital of the Buleleng regency. The Dutch colonial past of Singaraja is still apparent by the architecture of many of its buildings, especially those that are located in the old harbor district. White plastered warehouses still breath the atmosphere of the old days when the harbor was still busy and trade in spices, vanilla and tobacco flourished.

Since colonial times Singaraja has been an important educational and cultural center, with nowadays two universities in town. Singaraja is an attractive town to many, thanks to a lingering colonial 'feel' and some well-preserved colonial architecture. Mainly in the southern part of the town one will find tiny, winding backstreets which make for pleasant wandering. In 1995 Singaraja won a nation wide award for the cleanest and best maintained town in Indonesia. People here are extremely friendly and helpful. The center of the town lies at the intersection of the Jalan Gajah Mada and the Jl. Jen. Ahmad Yani. Here you will find banks, a post office, some accommodation, a number of small restaurants and the local market Pasar Anyar, which turns into a night market with foodstalls after sunset.

The harbor district of Singaraja can be found directly north of the center of the town. However not in use any more, there are still many old warehouses in the harbor district that date back to the Dutch colonial times. Before the opening of the international airport Ngurah Rai at Denpasar/Kuta in the 1970's, Singaraja was the main entrance port for tourists to Bali, where cruise ships with adventurous tourists used to land regularly.

In addition to the Dutch heritage there are remnants of Chinese and Muslim influence. The descendants of the Chinese, Arab and Bugis settlers still live in the harbor distict in areas nicknamed Kampong Arab and Kampong Bugis.

A beautiful Chinese temple (klenteng) named Ling Gwan Kion can be found just off the Jalan Erlangga, close to the ocean in the harbor district of Singaraja. This temple is one of the few Chinese temples on Bali. It can be accessed via a bridge over a lotus pond and it has magnificent golden Buddha statues. The temple was founded in the year 1873 and has been renovated several times, the last one in 2004.

A unique lontar museum annex library, the "Gedong Kirtya", can be found at the Jalan Veteran near the center of the town. The Gedong Kirtya collects, copies and preserves thousands of lontar (manuscripts made of palm leaf), "prasati" (transcriptions on metal plates) and books that deal with various aspects of human life such as religion, architecture, philosophy, genealogy, homeopathy, "usada" (medical manuscripts), black magic, etc., in the Balinese, Kawi (old Javanese), and in the Dutch, English and German language. The museum and library are open to visitors during weekdays but it is closed in the weekends and during national holidays.

The Royal Palace of Singaraja "Puri Agung Buleleng" is located close to the lontar library 'Gedong Kirtya', at the Jalan Mayor Metra. The Puri Agung, which has been renovated several times, is now softly open to public who are interested in the history of Buleleng – North Bali. Visitors can see a number of pictures of Raja (Kings) of Buleleng in the old house where the Raja and his family used to live. The descendants of the Raja's still live here and chances are you will meet with H.R.H. Crown Prince Ngurah Ugrasena, grandson of the last Raja of Buleleng, Anak Agung Pandji Tisna, who ruled until 1950 and who also was a well known novelist and the 'founder' of the tourist resort of Lovina when he decided to build (the first) accommodation in the area.

The city statues of Singaraja are many and are certainly very varied. You might decide to do a city tour with a traditional dokar (horse cart), which is a perfect way to see most of Singaraja's statues and to absorb the atmosphere of the old town in an old fashioned way. A dokar 'station' can be found in the center of Singaraja near the Pasar Anyar II Market, at the Jalan Gajah Mada.

The night market of Singaraja, "Pasar Anyar II", is located at the Jalan Gajah Mada in the center of the town. This market certainly is worth a visit, especially during the cool morning hours around sunrise. The market has two floors. Every morning hundreds of local people visit this rural market to shop for vegetables, fruit, fish, meat and offering flowers. You will also find a section here where you can buy clothes for real bargain prices (also open during day time).


original article at: www.northbali.info