Bali’s smallest district is Klungkung, located between Gianyar and Karangasem, and includes the islands of Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan and Ceningan. Klungkung itself is a bustling town. On reaching the town centre, you come to Kertha Gosa, the Hall of Justice. Surrounded by a moat, this is a superb example of Klungkung architecture, best known for its ceiling paintings in the Klungkung style.
Adjoining Kertha Gosa is the palace, with its beautiful Bale Kambang (or Floating Pavilion). It also has exquisitely painted ceilings telling stories of the sacrifice of the hero Sutasoma, and of Pan and Man Brayut- the couple who had too many children. Kamasan village is a few kilometers outside Klungkung. It has long been the bastion of traditional paintings. The themes derive from Balinese variations on the ancient Hindu epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.
This style has also been adapted for large versions of the zodiac and lunar calendars. Kamasan paintings take their essential characteristics from the wayang tradition. To see a good collection of Kamasan classical paintings, visit the Gunarsa Museum at the crossroads to Tihingan, just before Klungkung. A few kilometers east is Goa Lawah, the Bat Cave. This cave is crammed with thousands of bats which are unseen but certainly not unheard during the day.
The cave is part of a temple that is said to lead all the way to Besakih but is is unlikely that anyone would be interested in investigating! Beyond Klungkung is the coastal village of Kusamba. Kusamba is one of the embarkation points to the islands of Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan, and Nusa Ceningan. The Journey from Kusamba or Sanur to these islands takes a couple of hours.
Nusa Penida has unfortunately acquired a somewhat eerie reputation, as it was once the place of banishment for criminals and undesirables from the Kingdom of Klungkung. Penida attracts a number of visitors for its seclusion, surf and snorkeling. Few facilities exist for tourists, just a few losmen and a number of small warung. But the island has some interesting temples including the Pura Ped near Toyapakeh and Pura Batukuning near Sewana. There is also a huge limestone cave, Goa Karangsari, about a kilometre from Sewana.
The market town of Toyapakeh also has a ferry crossing to Nusa Lembongan. The friendly people of Lembongan have welcomed tourism. For those looking for white sandy beaches and a laid-back atmosphere, Nusa Lembongan is paradise. The waters around Lembongan are crystal clear, the sand is white and the shallow coves are brimming with colorful coral and sea life, making it an ideal location for snorkeling.