Traditionally Gianyar has been the richest district on Bali, today about half the population here works in the tourist industry. Gianyar city is the administrative center of the district, while Ubud is the cultural capital and has the largest population. Gianyar city is located about 23 km from Denpasar, and is a junction for north and east bound traffic. Around Bedulu, between the Petanu and Pakrisan rivers, is a 10 km long belt of land known as “the land between the rivers”.
The mysterious Goa Gajah (elephant cave) is one of the oldest relics on Bali. The exact time of origin is uncertain, but archeologists estimate the cave to have been built around year 1022 AD. This was long before Majapahit entered the island, and also hundreds of years before the first Europeans set foot here.
The site is a mix of Hindu- and Buddhist symbols, among them the cave with the entrance in an artistically carved cliff, a bathing pool with fountains, a statue of the Buddhist goddess Hariti, as well as several other Buddha figures.
This lovely waterfall in the Petanu river is located in Tegenungan close to Kemenuh, 7 km southwest of Gianyar city. The waterfall has a height of about 30 meters. It is not frequently visited in spite of it’s close distance to most of the tourist centers on South Bali. The place can be hard to find on your own, if you arrive from the south drive the main road to Gianyar city, turn right at the “baby monument” (see Gianyar), and then right again in Kemenuh.
This important temple one km north of the Tampaksiring village was founded as early as 962 AD. It is not as spectacular as Gunung Kawi a few km’s away, but absolutely worth a visit. Even if this is one of the oldest sites on Bali much of the structures are relatively new, it was completely restored in 1969. People from all over Bali come here to take a bath in the holy water for good health and good luck. The crystal clear water surfaces in a pool which, according to old traditions, is the Balinese Fountain of Eternal Youth. The pool is therefore protected by a wall. The surfacing water origins from the Batur lake via underground rivers.
Ubud has become the favorite place for many visitors to Bali. The name Ubud is probably derived from “ubad” which means medicine (“obat” in Indonesian), and to come here may be medicine for people who look for a relaxed way of life and beautiful surroundings. Ubud is built on the slopes of the central mountains. In addition to the town Ubud the area also include several smaller villages like Peliatan, Padangtegal, Penestanan, Campuan and Pengosekan.
For most people who visit Bali Yeh Pulu remains a well hidden secret. This may not be a grand attraction, but the site is one of Bali’s oldest and contain some of the most mysterious and important sculptures from it’s time, Yeh Pulu is therefore of great importance to the Balinese. Like the nearby Goa Gajah this was probably an hermitage, not a temple, probably from the 13th century.
Batubulan means “moonstone”, and if you like to see or buy any works of stone while you’re on Bali, then Batubulan in the Gianyar region is the place. You will pass this village if you drive from Denpasar to Ubud, it is hard not to notice the kilometers of displayed statues, Buddha figures, demons and other mythical figures, all carved in stone.