Eighth century legend tells of a Javanese priest, Rsi Markandya, who meditated at the confluence of two rivers (an auspicious site of Hindu) at Ubud locality of Campuhan. Here he found the Gunung Lebah Temple on the valley floor, the site of which remains a pilgrim destination.
The town was originally important as a source of medicinal herb and plants, Ubud gets its name from the Balinese word ubad (medicine). In the late nineteenth century, Ubud became the seat of feudal lords who owed their allegiance to the king of Gianyar, at once the most powerful of Bali’s southern states. The lords were members of the Balinese Kesatrya caste of Sukawati, and were significant supporters of the village’s increasingly renowned arts scene.
Tourism on the island developed after the arrival of Walter Spies, an ethnic German born in Russia who taught painting and music and dabbled in dance. Spies and foreign painters Willem Hofker and Rudolf Bonnet entertained celebrities including Charlie Chaplin, Noel Coward, Barbara Hutton, H G Wells and Vicki Baum. They brought in some of the greatest artists from all over world to teach and train Balinese in arts, helping Ubud become the cultural centre of Bali.
A new burst of creative energy came in the 1960s after the arrival of Dutch painter Arie Smith born in 1916 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 pursuit.
Puri Saren Agung is a large palace located at the intersection of Monkey Forest and Raya Ubud road. 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 Padang Tegal, 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 of 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.
The economy of Ubud is highly reliant on tourism which 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 congestion 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 treks up nearby mountains.
The town has a number of art museums, such as 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 Tek Tok is a traditional Balinese dance that is accompanied by musical sound of mouth “Tek Tok” altogether with various combinations of body movement and other sounds. Tek Tok dance tale was taken from the Mahabharata, where Draupadi at stake in a gambling.
The war between righteousness and villainy become part of the philosophy of life which has never dimmed. The story “Drupadi Parwa” Tek Tok Dance gives a moral message which when a women who embodies the values of patience, sacrifice, compassion, devotion, and a holy sincerity is not respected, then disasters and calamities will befall a king or state. This story also gives the message that truth, virtue, devotion and genuine compassion will always be protected by God. Tek Tok Dance performance held regularly in Bali Culture Center (BCC) Ubud, Bali four times a week.
The Ubud Monkey Forest is a sacred nature reserve located near the southern end of Jalan Monkey Forest. It houses the temple of death and approximately 340 crab eating macaque (Macaca fascicularis) monkeys live there.
The Campuhan ridge walk is a hill from where one can see two rivers Tukad Yeh Wos Kiwa and Tukad Yeh Wos Tengen merge. There is one meter wide of paving block track about two kilometers to the top of the hill.