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Places Near Bali

After soaking in the beauty of Bali you will have many options to see places near Bali. Visit Ubud lies north of Denpasar, and is generally regarded as the centre of Balinese painting. It’s a high altitude town, and has a number of art galleries, with large collections of traditional and contemporary forms of art. Ubud has been the home of not just well known Indonesian artists, but also foreign ones, including the American Antonio Blanco and the Dutch painters Hans Snel and Arie Smith. The town has two good museums (obviously, dedicated to art)- the Neka Museum and the Puri Lukisan, both with a good collection of paintings dating back to the early twentieth century.

Klungkung lies on the eastern coast of Bali close to Gianyar, although quite far from Denpasar it is worth a visit if you have the time. It was from Klungkung that the Javanese Hindu Kingdom from whom the royal family of Bali descended ruled. Klungkung was the oldest kingdom on the island, and there are still numerous signs of the city’s royal past. Best known of these is the Kerta Gosa, the Royal Courts of Justice. Dating back to the 1700s, the building is decorated with murals (on the ceiling), and has, around it, a beautiful walled garden, a lotus pond, and a floating pond.

Sangeh lies north of Denpasar, and if you’re passing anywhere nearby, it’s worth a detour. Sangeh is forested land- ten hectares full of fragrant nutmeg trees teeming with monkeys. While on the topic: the Dutch colonists, eager to rake in as much wealth as they could from the spice trade, had cultivated huge plantations of nutmeg in Indonesia. As time passed, the word spread within the Dutch East India Company that the cultivation of nutmeg was relatively unprofitable, and if money had to be made, it lay in mace instead of nutmeg. The East India Company’s head quarters in Holland immediately issued the order to chop down all nutmeg trees and replace them with mace trees- completely ignorant of the fact that mace and nutmeg are products of the same tree! Anyway, Sangeh is a nice place to see these trees; and you’ll get to see two temples amidst the forest considered to be holy. The sanctity of the forest is also supposed to rub off on its resident monkeys, which are rather tame.

The Temple of Besakih, the largest and most sacred of Hindu shrines in Bali, rests on the slopes of Mt Agung, which itself is believed to be holy- many local and other devotees believe it to be the centre of the universe. Although the mountain is a volcano (still active, and sometimes downright destructive), it has fortunately not been able to dislodge the temple yet- Besakih has been here for the past ten centuries and is definitely worth a visit, even if you’re not a Hindu devotee. It’s quite far from Denpasar (in the north-west of the island), so if you’re planning to pay it a visit, make sure you have lots of time.

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