Ubud is a town on the island of Bali, Indonesia. Ubud Village is a district that belongs to Gianyar regency, located amongst rice paddies and steep canyons in the central foothills of Gianyar regency. It is one of Bali’s major arts and culture centres and it has developed a large tourism industry.
Ubud has a population of approximately 30,000 people. Recently, it has become difficult to distinguish the town itself from the villages that surround it. The area surrounding the town is made up of small farms, rice paddies, and dense forest.
The history of Ubud can be traced from the eighth-century legend which tells that a Javanese priest, Rsi Markendya, who meditated at the confluence of two rivers (an auspicious site for Hindus) at the Ubud locality of Campuan. Here he founded the Gunung Lebah Temple on the valley floor, the site of which remains a pilgrim destination. The town was very important as a source of medicinal herbs and plants. Ubud gets its name from the Balinese word “ubad” which means medicine.
Tourism on the island of Bali that developed after the arrival of Walter Spies, an German born in Russia who taught painting and music, and explored his talent in dances. Spies and foreign painters Willem Hofker and Rudolf Bonnet entertained celebrities including Charlie Chaplin, Noël Coward, Barbara Hutton, H.G. Wells and Vicki Baum. They brought in some of the greatest artists from all over Bali to teach and train the Balinese in arts, supporting Ubud become the cultural centre of Bali.
A new burst of creative energy came in the 1960s after the arrival of Dutch painter Arie Smit and the development of the Young Artists Movement.
The Bali tourist boom since the late 1960s has seen much development in the town; however, it remains a centre of artistic pursuance.
The main street is Jalan Raya Ubud (Jalan Raya means main road), which runs east-west through the center of the town. Two long roads, Jalan Monkey Forest and Jalan Hanoman, extend south from Jalan Raya Ubud.
Puri Saren Agung is a large palace located at the intersection of Monkey Forest and Raya Ubud roads. The residence of Tjokorda Gede Agung Sukawati (1910–1978), the last ruling monarch of Ubud, it is still owned by the royal family. Dance performances and ceremonies are held in its courtyard. The palace was also one of Ubud’s first hotels, opening its doors back in the 1930s.
A number of Hindu temples exist, such as Pura Desa Ubud, which is the main temple, Pura Taman Saraswati, and Pura Dalem Agung Padangtegal, the temple of death. The Gunung Kawi temple is the site of the royal tombs. Goa Gajah, also known as the Elephant Cave, is located in a steep valley just outside Ubud near the town of Bedulu.
The Moon of Pejeng, in nearby Pejeng, is the largest single-cast bronze kettle drum in the world, dating from circa 300BC. It is a popular destination for tourists interested in local culture.
Tourism in Ubud focuses on culture, yoga and nature. In contrast to the main tourist area in southern Bali, the Ubud area has forests, rivers, cooler temperatures and less chaotic life although traffic has increased dramatically in the 21st century. A number of smaller “boutique”-style hotels such as the Tjampuhan Hotel are located in and around Ubud, which commonly offer spa treatments or trekking to nearby mountains.
The town and area has a number of art museums, namely the Blanco Renaissance Museum, the Puri Lukisan Museum, Neka Art Museum, and the Agung Rai Museum of Art. Close-by is the Museum Rudana in Peliatan.
The Ubud Monkey Forest is a sanctified nature reserve located near the southern end of Jalan Monkey Forest. It is the location of the temple of death, and approximately 340 crab-eating macaque (Macaca fascicularis) monkeys that live there.
The Campuhan hill walk is a hill from where one can see two rivers Tukad Yeh Wos Kiwa and Tukad Yeh Wos Tengen merge. There is a one meter wide paving block track about two kilometers to the top of the hill.