The greatest of the former principalities of Bali is Semarapura (formerly Klungkung), and its capital still has a number of sights that hint at its former glory. It is worth driving east of here into the Regency of Karangasem: to the ancient Bali Aga village of Tenganan, 3 km outside Candi Dasa, then inland and northeast to Amlapura (Karangkasem), with its royal palace, then 7 km north to the royal bathing pools of Tirtagangga. From here the road continues north, following the coast all the way to Singaraja (almost 100 km from Amlapura). The drive is very beautiful, passing black-sand beaches and coconut groves.
An area of great beauty dominated by Gunung Agung (3140 m), Bali’s highest and most sacred volcano, Karangasem is one of the most traditional parts of Bali and one of the most rewarding areas to explore. During the 17th and 18th centuries, Karangasem was the most powerful kingdom on Bali. Its sphere of influence extended to western Lombok, and the cross-cultural exchanges that resulted endure to this day. During the 19th century, the regency cooperated with the Dutch, thus ensuring its continued prosperity.
The massive eruption of Gunung Agung in 1963 devastated much of the regency and traces of the lava flows can still be seen along the northeast coast, particularly north of Tulamben.
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