The history and present of Ubud
Located in the central part of the island, the town of Ubud is radically different from another popular resort and it is considered the cultural center of Bali. It is a recognized center of arts and crafts, much of the city consists of studios and galleries of artists. It has some interesting architectural and other attractions, due to its personality, beautiful surroundings and pleasant climate in the atmosphere. Although Ubud has the status of the city with a population of 30 000 people, in essence, it consists of fourteen villages, each with its own control. The city is growing rapidly, and some central parts experience enormous stress due to the influx of a large number of visitors. Despite the continued rapid growth of tourism, it still has a lot of rice terraces along the rivers, and far from the center of a quiet country life flows peacefully as usual. Except for the center, Ubud is relatively quiet and peaceful place that many visitors enjoy in Bali.
Ubud is surrounded by many places that attracts many people to Bali: scenic rice fields, small villages, art and craft, ancient temples, palaces, rivers, cheap accommodation and good hotels. The location of the center of the island makes it a convenient place for hiking in the mountains, visiting the beaches, and travel to other places. On the main streets you can see many interesting things, but the real magic of the city is hidden in the quiet streets, courtyards, a café, in the hearts, minds and dreams of its inhabitants. Ubud is the cultural, artistic and spiritual heart of Bali for centuries. The history of the city dates back to the eighth century and it is associated with the name of RCI Markendya, an itinerant priest from the island of Java, which (according to the legend) had found the perfect place to meditate in a place where eastern combines with the western branch of the River East. At the present time in this sacred place is a sacred temple Guning Lebah. Its position as a cultural center of Ubud was strengthened during the reign of Paradise Batura (1850 - 1880), a representative of an illustrious family Sukawati, strongly supports the arts and culture. The current recognition as a cultural center of Ubud in Bali is closely linked with the name of the German artist Walter Spies, who arrived in Denpasar in 1926.Walter Spies arrived here at the invitation of Prince Sukawati, and, together with his friend, the painter Rudolf Bonnet, began to encourage and found talented artists in the development of new styles, different from the conventional.
In 1920 - 1930's Ubud was one of the most bohemian places in the world, its aura chained itself to a number of famous people in the world, the famous American actress Dorti Lamour, an outstanding American and English actor, acclaimed master of the film by Charlie Chaplin, the English playwright, actor and composer Noel Kauarda. The famous American anthropologist Margaret Mead, and his least well-known lover of Gregory Bateson were married on a ship en route to Bali, and the American "socialite" Barbara Hutton love to the ears of Walter Spies, who incidentally, was known for his sexual orientation, was later imprisoned in Bali. Like Paul Gauguin in Tahiti, Bali has become a second home of Walter Spies German artist and the Australian artist and the writer Donald Freund. Under their influence, the local artists began to use Western techniques, but with Balinese accents. By the early 1960s, Ubud was known as a community of fine artists. The famous European artist Ari Smith founded the School of young artists, whose fame has immortalized his name in the history of Balinese art. The next painting is thriving, wood carving, silver jewelry manufacturer. Described by many as one of the most magical places in the world, Ubud, despite of the growing resorts, villas, luxury hotels and centers for yoga, remains relatively unchanged. The city has retained its individual and cultural aura, despite the development of tourism and a large influx of outsiders. According to the accepted order, the construction of McDonald's, Starbucks or KFC (fast food restaurant chain) is not permitted within its boundaries. The city has managed to attract visitors and does not lose its bohemian aura, the imprint of which is present in the galleries, shops, restaurants and hotels. The Balinese culture is not focused on beaches, where most of the tourists rest. Hindus believe that mountains are sacred, so they gravitate to the interior of the residence.
Ubud is located exactly in the center of the island. Its villages are famous for their unique products made from bamboo, stone carving and woodwork, silver and gold and many other crafts. Just walking down the street and every corner you can see many artists' studios. Ubud is known for its dance and music shows, which are part of the traditional culture of its inhabitants. In the evening tourists stay out as witnesses to the exciting Balinese dances, and a day at least interesting of the Indo-Balinese ceremonies taking place almost every day, especially in the most cool and dry season in Bali. The special atmosphere of the city, perhaps, is its main attraction, allowing visitors to fully immerse themselves in the aura of the Balinese culture. Hinduism permeates Ubud life for centuries. Every day you can see the ceremonies, rituals and sacrifices. All this is done from the heart. This applies both to the younger generation and their parents and grandparents. Guests can visit the temple in the holy day and see all this. Ubud is located 35 km from Denpasar, at an altitude of several hundred meters above the sea level, surrounded by rice fields, which makes it noticeably cooler than other tourist resorts in Bali. It is popular today because it is the best place on the island in order to change the character of an ordinary vacation and to visit a quiet place, moreover, very interesting. The choice of foreign tourists is a good selection of hotels and inns. The cost of a living is much lower than in other beach towns of Bali. It is therefore not surprising that many people visit the city for a day or two, and eventually stop here much longer absorbed by the rich culture and a variety of occupations. Many tourists simply choose the city as a base point to stop and wander away to other places of the island.
Visiting Ubud, misses you just of what you do not have. The first and the most obvious thing to do is just walk around and look at the surrounding beauty of the wild nature. Ubud has many scenic spots. You can ride a bike on certain routes, or wander in the woods. Around the city there are many rivers where you can go rafting with friends or family or swim in kayaks. To do this, you can order the appropriate things to do, or wish to do it all yourself. The forests of dozens and dozens of bird species is a paradise for bird watchers. You can do fishing in the river. Not far from Ubud is the Elephant Safari Park, where you can ride on the elephants. The park has more than two dozen Sumatran elephants, that you can feed or simply caress. You can still make a trip up to the mountain, which offers fantastic views of the beautiful lake and volcano. The last time this volcano erupted in 1997, and the land around it is still blackened by the eruption. The entrance to the territory is paid, but it's worth it.
Unfortunately for many of the visitors, Ubud is not the place for night entertainment, for this you need to visit Kuta or Seminyak. Much of what makes the city so attractive is visited during the day. There are no nightclubs or discos, bars, even hard to find. To eat you're staying in a big hotel, there should be a bar or restaurant, where you can drink, sit and chat. But that's all. In 2009, an American magazine for Conde Nast Traveler conducted a study of tourist destinations in Asia, which was published in the January issue of 2010. Readers of the authoritative American magazine named Ubud the most attractive city in Asia, ahead of 8 other places such as Bangkok, Hong Kong, Chiang Mai, Kyoto, Singapore, Shanghai, Tokyo and Jaipur.
Ubud was the venue for the filming of a Hollywood movie, "Yes, Pray, love" with Julia Roberts in the lead roles. The film was made based on the eponymous book and was first released in August 2010. Its heroine Julia Roberts travels the world and spends 4 months in Italy, eating the famous Italian cuisine, the following four months she spends in India in search of spirituality, and the last four months she spent on the island of Bali, where she found her love.
Ubud: What to look for
• Take time to visit the major museums (Neka, ARMA, Seniwati) and get acquainted with the traditional Balinese art.
• Visit the evening performance of Balinese dancers in the Ubud Palace.
• Early morning visit the rice fields on the outskirts of the city.
• Be sure to try the local cuisine.
• For outdoor enthusiasts I recommend rafting along the river.
• Get the art of local artists to decorate your home.
Hotels in Ubud. Where to stay?
In Ubud you can find accommodation to suit every budget. Many tourists prefer to stay around the town, but not in the center of the city, in inciting rooms overlooking the famous rice terraces. A feature of living in Ubud is the presence of many small family hotels to stay where you get close to the life and culture of the Balinese people, like anywhere else. Besides living in these hotels is very cheap (from $ 5 with breakfast) and may be even cheaper if you choose a place away from the center (away from the area of the forest monkeys) but still not come into season . By the way, bargaining in family hotels is welcomed. Read descriptions and reviews for hotels in Bali, find and book a hotel can be in the search. When placed in affordable family hotels you'll have to pick them up already on the job, in the list of hotels they simply do not.
Ubud has a lot of different attractions to discover and for that it should be allocated at least a week. Visitors who come here for only two or three days, will not have a full understanding of what the cultural capital of Bali is. Key historical sites are located outside the city, some 20 km, so it seems appropriate to book an excursion to visit them. Attractions such as Goa Gayah, Gunung Kawi, Pura Tirta Empul Kehen are desirable to visit with a guide. There is no doubt that you will appreciate the beauty of these places, but their cultural and spiritual significance may be undisclosed without an experienced guide.
Goa Gajah - The Elephant Cave
Gayah Goa - the Elephant Cave is located in the village Bedulu just 2 km south-east of Ubud. The central attraction here is dated as an 11th century cave entrance into which glossed over the engraved face of a demon. Inside there are remains of statues lingam and yoni (phallus and vagina), and a statue of Ganesh (the god of wisdom and prosperity in Hinduism). The engraved images of guards standing around the pool near the entrance, a footpath leads to the waterfall, rice fields. A number of relics strongly suggest that the place has the features of the Hindu past. The entrance is for fee, the complex is opened daily from 8:00 am to 16:00. On October 19, 1995 the cave came in a preliminary list of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in the category of Culture. Nearby there are the much less well-known rock paintings Yeh Pulu. They date from the 14th or 15th century and are situated in a beautiful place among the rice fields. From Goia Gayah the walking through the rice fields can be completed in Yeh Pulu. Since the petroglyphs are considered sacred, a priest who is present here will be happy to bless you with the spring water. Yeh Pulu is little frequented, but very interesting place, urged to see it.
Gunung Kawi - The Hill of the Poet
Gunung Kawi - the Hill of the Poet. Dating from the eleventh century, Gunung Kawi alleged the burial complex of King Anak Vungsu and his many wives. The complex is located in a very beautiful place, a valley encircled by rice fields. The smaller complex on the south side of the river is believed to have been built for the wives of the king, and larger, it is home to the king himself, and perhaps his concubines. You must remove your shoes before entering the central part of the complex. About 1 km downstream is another tombstone grave.
The Kehen Temple
The Kehen Temple is located 30 minutes northeast of Ubud. This is one of the most attractive temples throughout Bali. The original and the interesting temple is visited by relatively few visitors. It was built in 1206, though the place was used for worship long before that. The temple is located in a beautiful place against the background of the surrounding hills and trees. The temple is open to the public from 08:00 to 17:00 daily.
Puri Saren Agung Royal Palace
Puri Saren Agung Royal Palace is a beautiful old palace, thoroughly groomed, with old stone gates and statues, dressed in a plaid dress. Puri Saren Agung is situated in the heart of the city and it is known as the Palace of Ubud. Since the late 19th century to the mid 1940s, Puri Saren Ubud was the residence of a local ruler, and some of the royal descendants live there to this day. The palace consists of several well-preserved and elegant rooms, decorated with furniture of the colonial era. A part of the complex is closed to the entrance of visitors, but the entrance is a big part of it free. This place is ideal for traditional dance show performed in the courtyard palazzo in the evening.
The Tirta Empul Temple
For over a thousand years, the Balinese religious pilgrimage to the temple of Tirta Empul, a holy spring which is said to have been created by Indra ( the king of the gods in Hinduism) has healing properties. The thousand-year tradition remains almost unchanged in the church to this day. The legend has it that when soldiers poisoned Mayadanava Indra, he pierced the earth to create a source of immortality and revive them. The inscription dates the temple grounds in 926 a year, but much of what you see, is modern. Living in Bali it comes to bathe in its holy waters for the healing and the spiritual dignity. The main attraction is a long rectangular pool, in which water flows from 12 fountains. Believers first offer sacrifices in the temple, and then go to the pool to swim and pray. Many collect holy water in bottles to take home. Nearby there are two small pools fed by the springs. The Temple of Tirta Empul is located in the countryside of Tampak Searing and it is easily accessible by public transport from the city of Ubud. The temple is opened to the public from 08:00 to 16:00.
Ubud is known as a center for the arts of Bali. Basically, this was the reason why it recently turned from an obscure town in a popular tourist destination. Here there are a number of excellent art galleries and museums. One of the best places to visit is the Museum of Puri Lukisan, known as the "Palace of Art" of Ubud. Opened in 1954, it became the first private museum in Bali. The museum shows paintings, sculptures, carvings, showing the beauty of the island, the culture and the style of the local residents.
The Neka Museum is another interesting place to visit. This museum contains the food and one of the most valuable collection of works of art in Bali. The museum shows many contemporary works created by the local artists or those who for a while were on the island. There are a number of other art museums and galleries which also contain interesting objects of art. Throughout the year various exhibitions are organized and take place both inside and outside the museums and galleries. They show the beauty and the charm of the island so well that it is necessary to see with your own eyes to understand and appreciate.
Ubud is a great place to get acquainted with various kinds of Balinese dance. It is interesting, of course, to see a few photos or short video clips. But nothing can compare to that first hand look at the technical skill of its participants. Incredibly beautiful girls dancing in colorful costumes of bright, hats adorned with flowers. Gestures, plastic, eye movements - this is what you need to see firsthand to really understand and appreciate this beauty. Balinese dances are very attractive. In the evening the Balinese dance can be seen in the Palace of Ubud, in other places you can look at other types of dancing.
Shopping and cuisine
What is the most attractive Ubud for? It is not easy to answer this question. Ubud is a great place for shopping and to enjoy fine cuisine. Here is a wide choice of restaurants, second only to the city Seminyak (near Kuta) in terms of quality and variety of food. Here are the most inexpensive and delicious cafes and restaurants in Bali. Along the streets the Monkey Forest and the Dewi Sita you will find some pretty good shops that sell souvenirs, art, clothing. Ubud Market is located in a two-story building and has a lot of products from wood carvings, batik shirts (batik - hand-painted on the fabric), sarongs (Indonesian national dress), and various other souvenirs to tourists. When you purchase, be sure to bargain, the cost can be reduced to two times the original price. Most traders on the ground floor lose interest if you are trying to significantly reduce the price. It is better to shop on the second floor, where the same items are asked to lower prices. The road from Ubud to Sanur passes through a series of small settlements, specialized in the production of art and arts and crafts: carving in Batubulan and Singakerta, silver jewelry in Celuk, painting in Batuan, thread wood in Mas. This whole area is sometimes called the "craft village" of Bali, although the number of the population living in them is hard to call their villages.
Other attractions Ubud
• River rafting Aung. There are several operators in Ubud, offering this tour. Taking advantage of the tour, you can look at a very picturesque gorge Aung.Thresholds II and Class III (for those who know what a frothy fast flowing stream of water), and the best rafting in the rainy season, during the dry season from June to September, water levels in the river are greatly reduced.
• The Ubud Monkey Forest is a nature reserve and a Temple complex in Ubud. It has roughly 340 macaques and is a popular tourist attraction in the city. There are several temples, monthly visited by more than 10,000 visitors. The Monkey Forest is full of hungry monkeys, so it is advisable not to bring any food, so as not to provoke the monkeys something you have to pull off.
• The Botanical Garden is located just 1 kilometer from the center of Ubud, the perfect place for leisure travelers and residents. Situated in twelve acres of natural ravines and gullies, it includes an orchid garden, a huge collection of ferns, palms, bamboos and tropical trees, the Islamic garden and other features.
• Bali Bird Park is located near Ubud and 40 minutes by taxi from Kuta. You will need at least half a day to look around and explore the park. It has more than 250 species of birds, many of which are contained in the cells. There is a restaurant and a gift shop.
• Every evening from 15 000 to 20 000 white herons fly in for the night in the village of Petula, a ten minute drive north of Ubud. It is a very beautiful sight when these large, elegant birds fly in huge groups and are fighting with each other for the best places to stay overnight. Every morning at dawn they leave en masse to the area in search of food. Some of them produce offspring in the area, their nests can be seen in roadside trees.
• The area around Ubud is characterized by a hilly terrain with rice fields, and it gives the impression of a solid green, quite beautiful sight. This is especially true for the territory to the south and the southeast of the city. It is necessary to stop and appreciate the beauty of the local area. The northeastern part is more hilly, a good place to review classic rice terraces of Bali.
• Fishing in the river or in the streams along the paddy fields
• The Botanical Garden is located near the village near Ubud Petula.