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Gianyar

The district of Gianyar is the centre of Balinese culture, rich in history and artifacts. Gianyar's history is arguably the most fascinating in Bali. The town of Gianyar itself is a small administrative town, home to one of the best-preserved palaces on the island, but unfortunately closed to visitors.

Leaving Denpasar on the way to Ubud, the first village is Batubulan. Famous for its stone carvings, most of the stone sculptures you see around Bali will almost certainly come from Batubulan. These works are exhibited all along the main road. Batubulan also specializes in the Barong dance which is performed daily here. The dance symbolizes the never-ending battle between good and bad.

Just after Batubulan, Celuk and nearby Singapadu are the centers for Balinese goldsmiths and silversmiths. The jewelry is exported worldwide.

After Celuk, the main road heads to Sukawati, famous for its art market (pasar seni). Set in a two floor building, the market sells everything from statues to dance costumes, all at reasonable prices. At night when the art market is closed, a night market provides a good selections of Indonesian food. Sukawati village is also a centre for the manufacture of the wind chimes you find all over the island.

Further along the road towards Ubud is the village of Mas. Famous for woodcarving, Mas offers a myriad of wooden items. The road through it is solidly lined with craft shops and you are welcome to drop in and see the carvers at work. The Tilem Nyana art shop exhibits the work of Ida Bagus Nyana, one of the great carvers of the thirties.

After Mas, you enter the area of Ubud. Ubud is recognized as the cultural centre of Bali. It is where the image of Bali as a land of artists scenes of everyday life. Ubud is home to many respected local and western artists.

The cultural image of Ubud is paramount to the people as home to the best art museums in the country. The Puri Lukisan, a Museum of Fine Arts established in the 50's, as well as fine examples of modern Balinese art.

The Neka Museum has a diverse and interesting collection of mainly modern art. It also includes an excellent and varied display of work by western  artists who have resided in Ubud through the years.

Ubud is in ideal place to see Balinese dance. Legong, Ramayana, Baris, Kecak, and the Fire Dance, are performed nightly in or around the Ubud area.

Ubud gives you the opportunity to see the real Bali. It is a place for leisurely strolls through rice paddies, lush forests, breathtaking gorges, and deserted  swimming holes, all within walking distance from the centre of Ubud. You must visit the Monkey Forest-walk along Monkey Forest Road from Ubud, down into a dense forest where you will find a bunch of happy monkeys waiting for passing tourists. A word of warning: the monkeys are happy but just a little naughty, so hold on to your cameras!

Ubud market has kept much of its traditional charm, with squatting Balinese sellers haggling loudly among spices and vegetables. The market  also sells handicrafts, many made in the neighboring villages of Pengosekan, Tegalalang, Payangan and Peliatan.

Gianyar has some of the most important archeological sites. The majority are located in the Pejeng area, 4 km from Ubud. It is home to one of South East Asia's oldest artifacts, a huge kettledrum  known as the Moon of Pejeng, a relic from the Bronze Age originating from Dongson, Vietnam, and a nearby archeological museum. The village also has two ancient temples, the Pura Pusering Jagat and Pura Kebo Edan.

The road to Pejeng and Gianyar is the site of the Goa shows elements of both Hindu and Buddhist use. You can enter the cave through the huge mouth of a demon. In front of the cave are two bathing pools with spring water gushing from spouts held by female figures.

A kilometer from Goa Gajah is yeh Pulu. After a short walk through rice paddies you will arrive at an ancient rock carving dating from the 14th century. The carving depicts various scenes of everyday life and the figures of elephant headed Ganesh indicate a close relationship between the two sites.

Still within the district of Gianyar in the central mountains across from Trunyan is the small settlement of Tirta, with its popular hot springs. The springs bubble out and are captured in bathing pools. The water is soothingly hot and is reputed to have powerful healing powers.

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