Ubud is an incredible town situated in the middle of the Indonesian island of Bali. It is the heart of Bali. It is known as the cultural centre of Bali. It is also famous as an arts and crafts hub and has been the pertinent centre for fine arts, music and dance. It is also popular spot amongst the backpackers. Ubud is the best place to stay if you are visiting Bali as it offers a beautiful nature, culture, inspiration as well as comfort. The main reason for people visiting this place so much is for the scenic rice fields, small villages, palaces, ancient historic temples, rivers, mountains, art and craft communities, etc.
Ubud is so cramped up with attractions that it seems like a visual assault at times. When travelling to Ubud, make sure that you give at least a week to this place to understand it completely and know the culture and people here. People come here for two to three days but they fail to understand what is going on around them and the beauty of this place. So if you want to enjoy it completely make sure you give it enough time.
Some of the remarkable sites in Ubud are:
Goa Gajah also known as the Elephant Cave was built in the 9th century. It is a temple inside a cave. The entrance of this cave is an ornately carved demon’s mouth. Inside the cave there are some statues of lingam and yoni as well as of Ganesha. There are huge carved guards that stand around the pools near the entrance and then a little path leads you to a waterfall, rice fields and Buddhist stupa fragments. This place is also listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Gunung Kawi in Tampaksiring situated near the river Pakrisan is presumed to be the burial complex of King Anak Wungsu and his many wives. After climbing down 371 steps, the location at the bottom of steep valley lined with paddy rice fields is spectacular. The small complex on the south side of river is said to be built for the King’s wives whereas the larger complex was for the king himself. There are structures carved into the sides of the steep river valley.
Tirta Empul is regarded as one of the holiest temples in Bali. It was built in the 962 AD. It is a Hindu temple famous for the holy water where the Balinese come to bathe and purify them physically as well as spiritually.
Agung Rai Museum of Art
This museum was built by Agung Rai and it functions as an art gallery and cultural centre. It has some of the best fine art collection. There are some episodes of Mahabharata told in the form of paintings that hang on the walls here. There are also some paintings famous Indonesian painters like Raden Saleh and Affandi.
The Monkey Forest is a nature reserve and a temple complex in Ubud. Officially called as the Mandala Wisata Wanara Wana has a large population of the monkeys. It also houses three holy temples. However, one should be aware of the monkey bites as that could be a while visiting this monkey forest.
Bali Bird Park
This park is spread over an area of 20,000 square metres. This park is a home to about 5000 birds with more than 200 different species of them. It is a famous tourist attraction here in Ubud. The bird that attracted the most attention here is the Bali Mynah.
In addition to the above famous tourist attractions are the many other temples in Bali, The Ubud palace, Bali zoo, The Botanic Garden, etc. While in Ubud you can also go for white water rafting on the Ayung River. It is a wonderful experience that you must have. Also there are many yoga and meditation centres where you could go and have a spiritual experience. Or you could go and have a Balinese massage and relax yourself and get pampered in many of the spas present in Ubud. Also, you could learn to cook the delicious Indonesian cuisine at the cooking classes here.
And lastly don’t forget to shop when in Ubud. You can visit the famous Ubud market and shop there. There is a large assortment of art and jewellery shops. You can find many wood carvings, batik shirts, sarongs and souvenirs specially aiming at the tourists. But you need to be careful while buying here as the merchants sell at very high rates to the tourists. So make sure you have good bargaining skills before you enter the market. You could also visit the markets on the road to Ubud from Sanur. The small villages here are known as crafts villages and specialize in art and craft materials. You can find some wood carvings, silver jewellery, paintings and stone carvings here. It is one of the best areas to find Balinese artwork.
So Ubud is one place you cannot afford to miss when in Bali. With so many temples, palaces, museums, beautiful environment and a unique culture it makes sure that there is something in store for everyone who visits this place.