Historically, the Balinese village of Ubud can trace its roots to as far back as the 8th century. It is documented on ancient palm leaf scripts that a revered holy man from India by the name of Rsi Markaneya embarked on a spiritual journey across Java and eventually came to the island of Bali to spread the teachings of Hinduism. It was on his travels that he received a divine revelation that in Bali he was to bury five precious metals on a mountain slope where the mother temple of Besakih now stands today. Along with a group of followers, Rsi Markaneya was magnetically attracted to a destination located in the central foothills of the island that radiated light and energy.
This place was Campuhan in Ubud at a junction in the Wos River and it was here that he felt compelled to build a temple by the name of Pura Gunung Lebah. On subsequent expeditions around Bali, Rsi Markaneya built a number of other significant temples and created a shared irrigation system for the terraced landscape that is still practiced by farmers today. The formation of the Banjar, which is a village council responsible for community and religious affairs, was also inspired by this holy man. In essence, it can be said that Rsi Markaneya is responsible for the foundation of Balinese Hinduism in its purest form referred to as Agama Tirta or the religion of holy water.
Ubud Palace Since being discovered backing the 8th century, the area of Campuhan has always been highly regarded by the Balinese for its immense spiritual powers. Even the term Ubud is derived from the term “ubad”, meaning medicine in reference to the traditional healing properties of the array of plants that randomly grow here. Generations of Hindu worshippers have made special pilgrimages to the fork in the Wos River to mediate, bathe and collect holy water for temple ceremonies and cleansing rituals.
There had always been ties between Java and Bali, but it was the disintegration of the once mighty Majapahit kingdom in the 15th century that saw a mass exodus of nobles to Bali. A new kingdom on the island’s east coast called Gelgel was consequently established and gave sanctuary to many important ruling families. They brought with them an artistic legacy and the principles of the caste system. By the 17th century, Bali invariably experienced a rapid emergence of new kingdoms, including the founding of several royal houses in Ubud. However, this period also saw much conflict between the royal clans with supremacy as the ultimate goal.
After almost 20 years of uncertainly, tourism resumed in Ubud during the 1970’s when backpackers and hippies set out to seek new experiences. A steady flow of visitors has since found themselves captivated by the intense beauty of the landscape and the gracious hospitality of its people. Ubud has managed to embrace the 21st century with dignity and still retain its timeless artistry, culture and religion. It is a unique destination blessed with a strong sense of community and rare spiritual energy.