Located in Singaraja, the capital of Buleleng in the northern part of Bali, Gedong Kirtya has had international acclaim as a manuscripts library for years. The library is the only one of its kind in the world, containing thousands of lontars, a sort of palm leaf used as a paper.
The lontar leaves are engraved with a sharp knife locally called a pengutik. They are rubbed with charcoal to bring out the engravings. The texts relate to all aspects of life including medicines, religion and witchcraft. Tourists and locals alike frequent the library to see these revered manuscripts, many of which are still used in ceremonies today.
Museum staff member Gede Sadia explained that foreign students are the most regular visitors to the museum, visiting for research or study purposes. Most of them come from India, USA, Japan, and Holland. "Groups of foreign students visit the museum every six months or so, and locals when the school holidays fall in Bali," he said.
Gedong Kirtya is situated in the complex of Sasana Budaya, the old palace of the Buleleng Kingdom. Realizing the appeal of the library as a tourist attraction and its historically interesting location, ex-Bupati of Buleleng Drs. Ketut Wirata Sindhu last year decided to upgrade the Gedong Kirtya library into a full museum. The local Government set up a technical unit chaired by Drs. Wirata Sindhu, with artist/writer Ketut Darnas as Vice Chairman, in order to oversee the project. When completed, the museum will cover the entire Sasana Budaya complex, and will become part of the city tour itinerary.
Although Ketut Wirata Sindhu has subsequently relinquished his position as Bupati of Buleleng, he still devotes his life for the prosperity of the regency in which he was born, and the conversion of the library into a full museum remains his passion.
Covering the largest area of northern Bali, Buleleng is rich in archeological artifacts. Buddhist relics in the form of clay stupas have been found at the Hotel Angsoka in the village of Kalibukbuk in the Lovina Tourist Resort. In addition, a skeleton with a sword was also found.