The spirit of Ubud

Considered the cultural area of Bali (Indonesia) Ubud is a little village located in the center of the island, 20 Km away from Denpasar. The town spreads in all directions for several kilometers including small villages and unspoiled green areas.

The center of the town, characterized by permanent traffic from the passage of locals and tourists, has three main streets: Jl Raya Ubud, Jl Monkey Forest and Jl Hanoman. Visitors can find fashion shops, galleries, cafés and restaurants or visit the Traditional Art Market, a double story building open every day selling statues, batik and other hand-crafted goods.

Evidenced by numerous archaeological ruins, the history of Ubud dates back to 300BC. In the 8th Century a Buddhist priest called Rsi Marhandya came to Bali from Java on pilgrimage and transformed the area into a center of natural medicine and healing, giving the town its name: “ubad” means medicine in ancient Balinese. From the 10th Century diverse temples and monasteries like Gunung Kawi and Goa Gajah were build as memorial to Hindu-Buddhist culture. Many of the dances, performances and rituals still practiced in Ubud today originated during this time. The first Europeans to arrive in Bali were the Portuguese in 1585 and then, from 1600 the Dutch India Company. In 1900 Ubud became a Dutch protectorate maintaining its traditional culture. In the 1930s foreign artists were encouraged to stay in Ubud, becoming an art and culture center all over the world.

The area around Ubud is characterized by gently rolling fields and breathtaking rice terraces, like the one situated in the village of Tegalalang that can be seen from a panoramic spot. Another main attraction of the area is the sacred Monkey Forest of Padangtegal a natural reserve with a Hindu temple built in the 17th century and with hundreds of monkey in habitants.

For visitors with a passion for literature, every year around October takes place the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival, a Southeast Asia renowned cultural event that celebrates writers, thinkers, artists and performers from Indonesia and all over the world.

Info: http://www.balitourismboard.org/ubud.htmlhttp://www.baliguide.com

Photo credit: ©Matt Oldfield, Ulrike Reinhold and Vifick, somewhere-unique, Ubud writers & readers festival