Although it may not be as popular as the vibrant tourist’s compound of Kuta and Legian or the thrilling waves of the island’s south coast among tourists, Denpasar, the capital city of the Island-Province of Bali holds its own charm as a place where modernity and Balinese distinct culture blend flawlessly as a whole. The city also acts as the major hub that connects the many tourists destinations within Bali Island. Denpasar is also the site where the Bali Arts Festival is held annually.
Designated as Bali’s capital city since 1958, replacing the former capital of Singaraja in the north, the city of Denpasar has since then grown rapidly in population and economy. Around its major square are the office of the Governor, the Bali Museum, and Bali’s first hotel, the Bali Hotel, where Hollywood filmstars Charlie Chaplin and Barbara Hutton once stayed. Also around here are major banks. While other government offices can be found at Renon.
The Puputan Square itsef is a historic landmark in Bali’s heroic history. In 1906, when Dutch forces landed on Sanur and moved to the city, the King of Badung, his Queen, children and the entire court wearing all white clothing and armed only with the keris, fiercely confronted the oncoming bullets. The royal house was entirely wiped out, except for one young prince, whose descendent was later installed as the Cokorda or King of Pemecutan.
As historic reminder of this phenomenal stance, the huge Bajra Sandhi Monument was erected at the Puputan Margarana Square, right in the heart of the city. The monument is most significant for its commemoration of the various puputans (suicidal fight to the death) of the Balinese in the struggle against Dutch colonialism: in 1908 the Raja of Klungkung together with his court also prefered death rather than surrender and shame. Inside the monument, visitors will find dioramas and other valuable collections depicting the history of the Balinese struggle against colonialism.
The provincial administration’s seat of Bali, Denpasar is bristling with temples, palaces, and at the eastern part is the popular lay back beach of Sanur. Although is a center for government and businesses, the city does not cramped itself with lines of tall buildings or modern architectures. Instead, many of the government offices, banks, businesses offices, shopping malls, and others retain the distinct personality of Balinese culture.
Denpasar is by far the largest city in Bali but still manages to retain a small town ambience despite heavy traffic congestion on its roads. The city is generally made up of tightly knit villages complete with historic Hindu temples surrounded by communal family compounds. It offers the most accessible way to see real, uncompromising Balinese life. Denpasar is also Bali’s best spot for shopping and features everything from lively street markets, vast department stores and more than its fair share of trendy boutiques. Expect the cheapest prices in Bali for almost everything as most stores cater to locals.
The capital city offers the best way to explore the island complete insight through the Bali Provincial Museum (Museum Negeri Provinsi Bali) or simply known as Bali Museum. As Bali’s flagship museum, it offers an informative introduction to almost all things in Bali through a vast array of cultural and historic artifacts from across the island. It is housed in four traditional pavilions set around a walled compound, right in the heart of town. Weaponry, utensils, precious jewelry, Balinese textiles, religious artifacts, traditional costumes and masks, and several artworks are among some of the collection displayed in the museum.
Located in the eastern suburbs, the Taman Werdhi Budaya or Bali Art’s Center is Bali’s foremost cultural centre. It comprises a large exhibition space, art museum, concert hall and amphitheatre and an adjoining school for the performing arts. There are permanent displays of Balinese art covering all styles made famous in nearby Ubud, woodcarvings and traditional costumes. Visitors can experience dance and music performances in two open-air amphitheaters with modern lighting. Dances are also regularly staged for the public, including works integrating modern Balinese choreography. The unique Kecak performance staged every night at 6.30 pm to 7.30 pm.
As any place in Bali, Denpasar is also decorated with many Hindu Temples. Among some of the renowned temples in Denpasar are the Pura Agung Jagatnata (adjacent to the Bali Museum), Pura Maospahit, and Puri Pemecutan.
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