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Dec 15, 2017

Ubud

If the thought of lush rice paddy fields, old temples in dense forests, meditation and fresh food excites you, then you need to treat yourself to a trip to Ubud. Nestled in the uplands of an Indonesia island, Ubud is a town surrounded by thirteen villages on the island of Bali.

The town itself is located amongst some scenic rice paddies and steep ravines in the central foothills of Gianyar regency. The plantations have remained intact and maintained their natural charm in spite of continuously growing tourist interest in the area. The small villages surrounding the town of Ubud are an integral part of the whole experience.

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History

The history of Ubud is quite extensive. In a way, the history of Bali itself, is the history of Ubud. The known history of Ubud begins in the eighth century when a Javanese priest by the name of Rsi Markandya, came to Ubud. He meditated at the confluence of the two Wos rivers at Campuhan, just west of the current town center.

The present religious practices and rituals of Ubud can be mostly traced back to Nirartha. He was a Javanese priest who came to Ubud after Rsi Markandya and expanded the shrine made by his predecessor. Around that time, Ubud was a hub of natural medicine and healing and probably got its name around that time. The translation of the word Ubud from ancient Balinese to English is medicine.

In the next several hundred years, different Kings and dynasties ruled Ubud, ranging from King Airlangga to the Majapahit Kingdom. The place is studded with remains of this period; temples, caves, palaces and even aristocratic families.

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Another interesting aspect of the history of Ubud that has its branches reaching into the present is its protectorate status under Dutch government. Due to the same, a heavy interest of foreign artists was experienced by Ubud in the 1930s. Famous artists like Walter Spies and Rudolf Bonnet who set base in Ubud, were responsible for taking the local Balinese art and culture and spreading it worldwide. Ubud’s relationship with art and culture, established by these foreign artists, quickly developed and still continues to flourish on an international level.

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Places to Visit

 

Goa Gajah

The Hindu temple of Goa Gajah, which literally translates into Elephant Cave, is built around a cave dating back to the ninth century. The entrance of the cave is designed like a demon’s mouth. Remains of lingam and yoni statues can be found inside the cave.

Pura Gunung Kawi

 

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Pura Gunung Kawi or the Poet Mountain Temple, believed to be a burial complex of King Anak Wungsu and his many wives, dates as far back as the eleventh century. The magnificent site nuzzled in a steep river valley can be reached by climbing down 371 steps.

Puri Saren Agung

Puri Saren Agung, a royal palace in the heart of Ubud was occupied as recently as the 1940s. Even to this day, some descendants of the royal lineage live in the water palace. Although some parts of the palace are restricted for general public, the rest of the palace is open for visitors. It is also possible to rent one of the five ancient stone bungalows in the royal courtyard for a short stay.

Agung Rai Museum of Art

A heritage of the rich artistic history of Ubud, Agung Rai Museum of Art holds works of both Balinese and international artists. The museum is spread across numerous buildings of a traditional built with splendid gardens and water coursing through different channels. It houses works by famous artists like Lempad, Affandi, Sadali, Hofker, Bonnet and Le Mayeur.

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Monkey Forest

The sacred Monkey Forest of Ubud lying in the village of Padangtegal is an important center for spirituality and education for the villagers. The land itself is a heavily forested patch spreading across 10 hectares. The forest is studded with Hindu temples dating back to around 1350 AD. It also boasts of 115 different species of trees, around 700 crab-eating macaques and a small herd of Timor rusa.

Ubud’s Yoga Retreats

 

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The history of yoga and meditation goes way back into the past for Ubud. It was one of the first centres to practice yoga, hundreds of years ago. The lush green rice terraces, palm trees and running silent streams attracted people to Ubud and still do. Many centres of yoga and meditation are still spread across Ubud and provide excellent facilities.

Food

 

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Apart from the breathtaking scenery and rich and diverse culture, Ubud also boasts of a wide variety of food. Ubud offers food for every kind of person, ranging from low budget cheap eats to high-end restaurants. It also offers sumptuous meat dishes to fresh and crisp vegan and raw food.

 

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Some of the best vegan restaurants in Ubud are Alchemy, Element, Kafe, and more, which offer a wide variety of options for people looking for tasty and healthy vegan food.

 

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Make your holiday a completely healthy one by teaming up a yoga routine in the crisp air with a raw food diet. Ubud has some amazing raw food options with restaurants offering top-class raw food in every price range. Some of the best restaurants are Clear Cafe, The Seeds of Life, and Moksa.

There are not many destinations in the world like Ubud. Maybe for the upcoming Christmas holiday, who knows!

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