The most elaborate buildings in Ubud are the temples or ‘pura’, which act as the focal point for the community’s religious life, are the site for the many ceremonies, gamelan performances and sacred dances, and have much community money invested into them as a mark of respect and gratitude to the ancestors.

Like the family compound, the Balinese temple is built with a protective surrounding wall and several strategically-placed gates. Inside, there are three courtyards, the innermost one being where the offerings are placed.

The decorative art forms, once devoted to religious purposes, are best seen in the temples, though the levels of decoration vary. In the important temples in particular, look out for the ornate displays of carving in volcanic stone and wood, the ferocious guardian statues, and the elaborate doors, gates and ceilings.

Temples to Visit

Ubud’s temples can be visited as long as the appropriate etiquette is observed (see ‘Local Etiquette’ in our ‘Ubud Info’ section).

Three that are of particular interest for daytime visits are Pura Dalem Agung, in the Monkey Forest – it’s extremely atmospheric; Pura Taman Saraswati, at the back of Cafe Lotus – it’s dedicated to the goddess of learning, literature and the arts and is surrounded by lotus flowers; and Pura Gunung Lebah, below the Campuhan bridge under the Ibah Hotel, for its beautiful setting at the confluence of two rivers.