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Entries in bali tours (16)


Bali Photo of the Day ~ Bali Royal Cremation

The Bali photograph for today comes from an auspicious outing for our Yoga and Wellness Retreat participants. After a powerful morning of yoga at the villa we headed into Ubud for a cultural excursion. We had been seeing the daily construction of the Bade (cremation tower) and Bull and we knew the royal cremation ceremony or Ngaben would soon be taking place. However, we did not know it would be this day.

Our Bali Yoga and Wellness Retreat was able to witness this rare Royal Cremation Ceremony in Ubud, BaliOur Yoga Retreat guests were overjoyed to be able to witness this rare rite. More images from this ceremony are soon to come and if you would like to read more about Ngaben Cremation Ceremonies and see some compelling photos, please click here and here and here.

For more on our Yoga and Wellness Retreats just click here.


Bali Photo of the Day ~ Bali's Tanah Lot Temple

Today's Bali Photo of the Day takes us to Bali's Tabanan Regency on the West Coast to one of the big three sacred temples of Bali. Pura Tanah Lot is actually an island onto itself. This important pilgramage site is built upon a rock and reef outcropping in the ocean. It is possible to walk or wade to the temple at low tide.

Tanah Lot is one of the important seven sea temples of Bali and certainly one of the most picturesque. These seven temples were built around the island to protect it, and to be used as a signaling device as each temple is built within eyeshot from the last forming a visual chain around the South Western coast of Bali.

Bali tour spa temple surfBali's Sacred Tanah Lot Temple

Bali's Tanah Lot History

A revered 15th century Hindu priest named Nirartha is said to have built the sacred temple. He stopped to sleep on the rock and found it to be not only majestic in its beauty, but a sacred and powerful spot. The locals saw him there and began to bring him gifts. He told them to construct a temple there as it was a fitting place to worship the Balinese Sea Gods.


It is claimed that when Niratha moved on from the rock island, he left his scarf behind. The scarf turned into a giant sea snake and has protected the location ever since. To this day, holy men guard the entrances to the many caves that surround the temple and some can even show you the magical snakes inside the caves. Many will ask for a donation to enter the caves, but the payoff is usually not all that exciting.


From the main tourist areas of South Bali such as Kuta, Seminyak and Legian, its about a 40 minute car ride and from Bali's cultural center of Ubud, its perhaps a 40 minute ride depending of course on the traffic.


Tanah Lot is a must do on any traveler's itinerary. Try to go at low tide so a local Hindu Priest can bless you with the springs of holy water that emminate from beneath the temple itself. It's spectacular at sunset and it is also a fairly consistent surf break. More on surfing Tanah Lot to come. Be sure to sign up for our free award winning newsletter to get the inside tips on where and when to go to beat the crowds and to see some of the hidden aspects  of Bali.



Bali Photo of the Day ~ Komodo Dragon Sculptures Protects The Holy Bathing Temple

Balifornian's Art and Culture Eco-Tour

Todays Bali Photo of the Day comes to us from a recent Art and Culture Eco-Tour. We stopped into Ubud's Sacred Monkey Forest, crossed the Dragon Bridge over the The Holy Bathing Temples where these two fellas have kept watch over the natural springs that pour from the side of the Monkey Forest Gorge.

Bali wellness komodo tourBali's Sacred Monkey Forest features two Komodo Dragon Carvings that protect the Holy Bathing SpringsSome say these beautifully carved Komodo Dragons have been overlooking these sacred Bathing Springs for hundreds of years. The Balinese still use these springs to cleans themselves and don't be surprised if you see naked or nearly naked locals taking part in the ritual.

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Bali’s Dragon Bridge of The Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud

One of my favorite places to visit in Bali and one of my wife’s least favorite places is Mandala Wisata Wenara Wana. More commonly known as The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Ubud. She has a slightly irrational fear of the mischievous simians but for most travelers and locals, a visit to The Sacred Monkey Forest is a fun one. Mind your shiny valuables and don't try to hide food in your pockets, but if you are aware of the potential pitfalls, the forest has much to offer.

best bali tour monkeyA mother monkey enjoys a tasty yam as her infant clutches her breast as another monkey flies by crossing The Dragon Bridge in Bali's Sacred Monkey Forest
Much has been written about the three troupes of playful long tailed macaques that call the forest home. Depending on whom you ask, there are somewhere between 200 and 600 of our primate cousins living amongst the 115 different speicies of trees in the dense forest. Instead here I would like to focus on one of my favorite places within the Monkey Forest.

There are many remarkable aspects of the Monkey Forest. There are three major temples, the oldest dating back to the 14th century, neatly one hundred fantastical sculptures, impressive huge trees and plants (complete with Tree Spirits), and there are even not one, but two monkey cemeteries. But my favorite is something different.
Bali tours monkey forestA huge Banyon Tree attempts to engulf The Dragon Bridge that crosses the gorge in Bali's Monkey Forest Sactuary
The elaborately carved Dragon Bridge crosses a narrow gorge in the middle of the forest. Its hard to date the bridge acurately. I have been told its more than 700 years old, but many stories and legends surround the mystical bridge. The bridge itself cuts directly through the truck of an enormous Banyon Tree and leads to The Holy Bathing Temple. 

Repairs have been made as when I visited a few years ago one of the dragon’s snouts had been broken off (most likely by a disrespectful tourist rather than a monkey). It has since been repaired and looks none the worse for wear. I suppose it helps that in a tropical setting like Ubud, moss will cover shaded stone in just a matter of months making it look like it has been there since the Majapahit Empire.
Bali travel sacred forestThe view from The Holy Bathing Temple across the Dragon Bridge and through the Banyon Tree in Ubud's Monkey Forest
I won't reveal the secrets of the forest and the current day stone carvers here, but I will say their talent is immense and the traditions remain strong. Come visit us for a special insider’s tour of The Sacred Monkey Forest and we will show you even more that most travelers miss. Pardon me, I said “we”, but I'm sure my wife will not join us for this part of the tour.



Bali’s Royal Water Palace ~ Taman Ujung Soekasada. 

This is a companion blog post to Our Family and Bali’s Royal Family of Karangasem and focuses more on The Water Palace of Karangasem. To learn more about one of the Maryam's lineage and Bali's Royal Family of Karangasem just click here.
My wife is a princess. She is sweet, smart and beautiful. A lot of men say those things about their wives but in this case she is a real actual Princess. In her early years, she was raised by her Great-Grandmother, who was the daughter of the King. 

Bali’s Royal Water Palace~ Taman Ujung Soekasada in Karangasem, Bali, Indonesia 

Bali tour villa travel I Gusti Bagus Djelantik, The King of Karangasem's Water Palace
In our efforts to learn more about Maryam’s lineage, we have been visiting her family’s palaces. Our continued quest took us to The Karangasem Regency in East Bali, the seat of the kingdom. Here we visited Tumbu Village, home to Taman Ujung Soekasada, The Royal Water Palace of Karangasem.  
From the Old Bali archives. Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 UnportedAbove is the Palace as it was in 1925.

Bali vacation royal tourPutu sits overlooking her family's Tama Ujung Water Palace
This was the residence of The Karangasem Royal Family. It was built by The King of Karangasem, I Gusti Bagus Djelantik who reigned in Karangasem from 1909 until 1945. The King lived here much of the year along with his wives and many children.


Taman Ujung Water Palace is perched on brilliant green hills, with sacred Mount Agung in the distance, and overlooking the ocean in the other direction.  The sprawling elegant complex is remarkably well maintained.
We are able to host weddings and very special events at The Water Palace. If you would like to discuss having your very special event at Taman Ujung, please contact us directly for details.


Many palaces we have visited in Indonesia can be disrespectfully strewn with litter. But, Tama Ujung is immaculate and the blooming flowers and various wildlife stand testament to the commitment to protect the memory, and continue the traditions, of the Royal Family.



Much of the palace was damaged in the eruption of Mount Agung Volcano in 1963. It was largely reconstructed via sponsorship of the World Bank along with Indonesia’s government.


Taman Ujung had also suffered some damage during World War II when the invading Japanese dismantled it’s iron bars for weaponry production. But today it can be visited in all its splendid glory just as it was for Maryam’s family many years ago.


Bali photography Karangasem tour


It is one of many palaces and one of three water palaces built by the last raja of Karangasem.  It consists of various styles of architecture complete with pools, moats, canals, bridges, and fountains. 


The complex is a combination of Balinese and European architecture. My favorite architectural element is the endless hallway/bridge that was built with such precision; it offers perfect symmetry and one point perspective.


There are two of them actually and they lead to a rest house called “Bale Gili” which sits in the middle of the largest of three ponds within the complex. 


Bali wellness tour palaceEntering Taman Ujung in Karangasem, Bali
While it is beautiful and offers a spectacular vista, most interesting for us was the access into the private rooms of the family. The original traditional beds and ornaments are still intact. On the walls hang many photographs of the family. We will be posting many of these amazing old photographs soon. To be notified and to join our free newsletter, just click here.


Bali wellness travel princessPutu stands on the infinity bridge in her family's Royal Palace in Karangasem, Bali
The majestic palace, along with hectares of manicured gardens, gazebos, and two huge ponds, also served as a place to welcome and to serve important visiting guests and Kings from countries worldwide. 


The Taman Ujung heritage site of the kingdom of Karangasem, offers views of Bali’s neighbor, Lombok and the of Lempuyang mountains. The Kingdom spread east to Lombok and ruled there as well. 


Bali wellness retreat villa


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