Badung Puputan Park, Denpasar is a place of peace and tranquility, located in the heart of Bali’s capital. Functioning as both a tourist destination as well as a popular meeting place for locals, the park is an ideal place to stop for some people watching in between city destinations, like the Bali museum or Kunbarasi shopping centre.
The park is well-attended year round, and is host to a variety of regular activities. Show up at lunchtime and you can join the locals for the street food like corn, poached quail egg, or the perennial chicken satay. And while you’re eating, relax under the trees or observe one of the many ongoing chess matches between locals who meet there every day. If you have young children with you, Badung Puputan Park also has regular weekend daytime activities featuring performances of both contemporary and traditional Balinese dance, and on Sundays the park is filled with flying kites.
Today, the park is a communal gathering and leisure, but the site itself is the location of one Bali’s most important military conflicts. In the early 20th century much of Bali had been occupied by the Dutch, and by 1906 additional troops were sent to the capital to combat local resistance. On September 20, Dutch forces were met at the palace gate by the Raja, his officials, and their families. The group were dressed in the traditional white garments of cremation, as well as their ceremonial kris (a form of dagger) which had been blessed. As the Dutch approached, the Raja gave the command and a priest stabbed the Raja in the chest. This signalled the others to do the same, and as the group began to kill each other the women were seen throwing coins and jewellery at the Dutch, mocking their desire for riches. The Dutch then opened fire, and over 1,000 Balinese were killed that day.
In Balinese culture, the ‘puputan’ is a word for an extreme situation in which death is preferable to surrendering, compelling the performance of ritual mass suicide. The events of September 20 are remembered as the Badung Puputan, after which the park is named, and the day is celebrated as a symbol of the Balinese people’s struggle against foreign aggression. On the north side of the park stands a huge bronze statue depicting three warriors, weapons in hand, forever protective and defiant.