Singaraja city is an old port city in the middle of the north coast of Bali. It is the second largest city in Bali (approximately 120,000 inhabitants). It is the former colonial capital of Bali, and now the capital of Buleleng regency. Buleleng was also an old Balinese kingdom. The port of Singaraja also called Buleleng.
The Dutch colonial past of Singaraja is still visible through the architecture of the buildings, especially those located in the old port area. Whitewashed warehouses still breathe the atmosphere of the old days, when the port was flourishing with the trade of spices, like vanilla and tobacco.
Since the colonial time Singaraja been an important educational and cultural center. Today, the city has two universities. Singaraja is for many an attractive city, thanks to a persistent colonial ‘atmosphere’ and a number of well-preserved colonial buildings. Especially in the south of the city with small, winding streets that will make you wander here. In 1995 Singaraja won a national prize for the cleanest and best maintained city in Indonesia.
The people in Singaraja are very friendly and helpful. The centre of town is at the junction of Jalan Gajah Mada and Jalan Jen. Ahmad Yani. Here you will find banks, a post office, small hotels, a number of small restaurants and local market Pasar Anyar that evening turns into a “night market” with food stalls.
You’ll find he port area of Singaraja immediately north of the city centre. There are still many old warehouses in the port dating from the Dutch colonial time. These warehouses are no longer in use. Before they made in Denpasar, Singaraja was the port where adventurous tourists came ashore by boat.
Besides the Dutch heritage, there are also Chinese and Islamic influences to be found. The descendants of Chinese, Arab and Bugis settlers still live in the harbour district and you’ll find neighbourhoods with names like Kampong Arab and Kampong Bugis.
There is a beautiful Chinese temple (Klenteng), the “Ling Gwan Kion”. It is located near the Jalan Erlangga, near the ocean in the port of Singaraja. This temple is one of the few Chinese temples in Bali. It is accessible by a bridge over a lotus pond and the temple has beautiful golden Buddha statues. The temple was founded in the year 1873 and has been renovated several times.
A unique “lontar” museum and library, the “Gedong Kirtya”, can be found on Jalan Veteran near the centre of the city. The Gedong Kirtya collect, copy and save thousands lontar (manuscripts made of palm leaves), “prasati” (transcriptions on metal plates) and books dealing with various aspects of human life, including religion, architecture, philosophy, genealogy, homeopathy, “usada” (medical manuscripts), black magic, etc. Much has been written in the Balinese language and Kawi (old Javanese language). But there are also works in Dutch, English and German. The museum and library are open to visitors on weekdays but on weekends and during public holidays it is closed.
The Royal Palace of Singaraja “the Puri Agung Buleleng” is near the lontar library “Gedong Kirtya”, along Jalan Mayor Metra. Puri Agung, which has been renovated several times and is now sparsely opened to the public, for those who are interested in the history of Buleleng (North Bali). Visitors can take a number of pictures of the Rajas (Kings) of Buleleng seen in the old house, where the last Raja and his family lived. The descendants of Raja’s still live here in the house, and there is a chance that you will meet HRH Crown Prince Ngurah Ugrasena, grandson of the last Raja of Buleleng, Anak Agung Panji Tisna. He ruled until 1950 and was also a well-known novelist and the ‘founder’ of the tourist resort of Lovina, when he decided to build the first stay accommodation in Lovina.
There are lots of statues to be seen in Singaraja. When you want to see some of these statues you can better take a city tour with a traditional dokar (horse and carriage). That’s the perfect way to see the most statues of Singaraja in an old fashioned way and soak the atmosphere of the old town.
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