Information before you go
Central Bali Sight Seeing, our favorite sights on the island.
Central Bali is the most picturesque area of the island with numerous temples, deep river gorges, stunning rice terraces, waterfalls and mountains such as Bali's second highest mountain Mount Batukaru (2276 m), Mount Abang (2151 m), Mount Catur (2096 m), Mount Sengayang (2087 m), Mount Pohen (2063 m) and Mount Batur (1717 m).
It is also home to two Unesco World Heritage sites such as the rice terraces of Jatiluwih and Tegallang which can only exist through close cooperation of the Subak, which is a 1000- year old water management system under the authority of water temple priests and local Banjar communities.
Central Bali is also the most religious area of Bali with stunning temples such as the temples of Mengwi, Bangli and Bratan Lake. During the day you can see woman making offerings on the side of the streets, in their courtyards and in the rice fields to honour Dewi Sri, the Rice Goddess. You will often see women with baskets on top of their heads walking along the rice field tracks or packed together in a pick-up truck to prepare for the next of many ceremonies.
When you travel to Bali you are likely to see spectacular ceremonies
taking place at one of the many important temples...
In the evening there are several gamelan music groups and Balinese dancers practising in the pavilions of the traditional courtyards. Entire villages such as Sukawati, Batuan, Celuk, Batubulan, Mas are busy with the production of religious artefacts such as temple statues, umbrellas, offering baskets, religious masks and paintings.
There are many colourful sights in Central Bali, which are really worth visiting and where you can observe what everyday Balinese life is all about. So if you travel to Bali and hope to see her cultural side, then you now know this is the area to go to.
Gajah (Elephant Cave)
This Hindu/Buddhist temple built in the 11th century is located in Bedulu, just north west of Ubud and where she got her name from is still a mystery today. The Goa Gajah complex was rediscovered by the Dutch colonial power in 1923 and they mistook the giant demon head above the cave's entrance for an elephant head.
Or maybe she got her name from the 1 m high elephant statue of Ganesha inside the cave, who knows. It's a pleasant sight nonetheless and here you'll also find ancient bathing pools and both Hindu and Buddhist statues.
Yeh Puluh is found 30 minutes on foot through the rice paddies from Pura Goa Gajah. This is also a bathing place even though a lot smaller than her neighbour. This site has a 27m long relief dating from the 14th century with sculpted statues from Ganesha, men who carry their catch, an attacked bear and a man on a horse, which tail is pulled by a woman. It's still unclear but the Balinese think that the relief has been inspired by epics from the Mahabharata where the god Krishna went out hunting.
The site is very small but beautifully located between the rice fields and small river stream. Entrance fee to Yeh Puluh is Rp6000 and here you can also borrow a sarong and temple scarf.
This temple complex is a sight that should not be missed when you travel to Bali. Goa Gajah and Yeh Puluh are well laid out but Gunung Kawi wins every prize here with palm trees, rice field vistas and the river Perikisan. It takes a short walk before you reach the holy shrines, which are carved in the rocky hills.
This complex is down the road from Gunung Kawi in the north of Tampaksiring. Tirta is derived from the Sanskrit word of ‘amrita’, which means nectar or life elixir. The Balinese believe that the source provides holy water with magical power and therefore like to bath and pray here.
Ricefields of Tegallalang (Ceking)
Just north-east of Ubud you'll find the Unesco World Heritage sight of Tegallalang where man-made rice terraces and the complex water management system win all awards for 'Bali's Perfect Postcard'. Coincidental or not but Tegallalang is also home to many sweat shops where they produces wooden statutes and other tourist products on a bigger scale.
Best place to hide from getting shot by a Navajo arrow is at the Alon Alon Terrace Cafe from where you'll have a great view on the terraces.
This sight is home to the Bukit Sari Monkey Forest and the Balinese believe that the three monkey clans are the descendants of the monkey army of general Hanuman.
They can be very aggressive so be prepared and watch your sunglasses and hats. The Bukit Sari temple in the forest was built by the royal family from Mengwi in the 17th century to honour the god Vishnu and it was used as a place for meditation.
In Marga you find the Margarana Memorial which commemorates a regiment of guerilla warriors, who were killed by the Dutch after World War II. The 17m high Margarana memorial was built in 1954 and has eight roofs in Javanese style, which symbolizes the unity of the fallen warriors.
There’s an inscription on the memorial which is a piece of text from a letter that Lieutenant Ngurah Rai wrote to the Dutch officer in which he stated to give his life for the revolution.
Taman Ayun in Mengwi
Built by Raja(King) I Gusti Agung Anom in 1634 this state temple of the Mengwi Kingdom was overrun by the Tabanan and Badung Kingdoms in 1891 but survived. Connected by a bridge you can have a look at the inner courtyard where you'll find numerous multi-tier meru.
Ulun Danu Bratan
Lake Bratan lies in a old crater of the silent volcano Gunung Catur. The lake is a major source of water for the southern part of Bali and many ceremonies take place at the Ulun Danu Bratan temple to worship the Goddess of the Water, Dewi Danu. Her temple is on the lake with 3 meru (rooftops). The temple with 7 meru is dedicated to Shiva and the one with 11 meru to Vishnu.
If you like, you can rent a boat and tour around the lake to see the temple from a different angle or you can admire the picturesque crater landscape around you.
Kehen in Bangli
This temple is often described as the miniature version of the Pura Besakih. Like the mother temple, this temple has 8 terraces and it is built on the southern slope of the hill. Kehen means 'Household' or 'Fireplace' and symbolizes the Fire God, Brahmen who protects the temple. This is definitely one of the sight seeing attractions in Central Bali that should not to be missed on your trip around the island...
Bali is famous for its never ending rice field views and terraces. The ‘Subak’ is an organization that is responsible to maintain this landscape and assure harvest.Read more
Mount Agung and Mount Batur are probably the most popular hiking trails in Bali. But there are many more taking you to waterfalls, through rice fields and villages.Read more
Even if you don’t like shopping you should head this market. Only if it is to see all the colorful local goods on sale. In the afternoon stalls mostly sell souvenirs.Read more
Now and then people send us inspiring emails and this generates even more enthusiasm to share all of the things we know about this lovely island in the hope that you can plan your tropical holiday properly and have as such a great time as we always have. Hope to see you there!
When I wrote the mail I never really expected a reply. I might have expected a computer generated but never a personally written one. The information you provided is invaluable, thank you so very much. I have been using your website as a bible through Bali. Through your recommendation, I will be heading to Ubud then follow the sightseeing route to the coast of Candidasa.
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