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Although there are no artifacts on records dating back to the Stone Age, it is believed that the first settlers on Bali migrated from China. The complex system of irrigation and rice production, still use today, was established around this time.
It wasn't until the 11th century that Bali received the first strong influx of Hindu and Javanese cultures. The old Javanese language, Kawi, became the language used by the aristocracy, one of the many Javanese traits and customs adopted by the cause.

With the death of Airlanggha, in the middle of the 11th century, Bali enjoyed a period of autonomy. However, this proved to be short lived, as in 1284 the east Javanese King Kertanegara, conquered was murdered and Bali took the opportunity to leberate itself once again. However, in 1343, Bali was brought back under Javanese control by its defeat at the hands of Gajah Mada, a general in the last of the great Hindu-Javanese empires, the Majapahit. With the spread of Islam throughout Sumatra and Java during the 16 th century, the Majapahit empire began to collapse and a large exodus of aristocracy, priests, artists, and artisans to Bali ensued. For a while Bali flourished and the following centuries were considered the Golden Age of Bali's cultural history. The principality of Gelgel, near Klungkung, became a major centre for the arts, and Bali became the major power of the region, taking control of neighbouring Lombok and parts of East Java.


Bali has many museums with fine collections of traditional and modern art such as :

  • The Bali Museum in Denpasar offers a vivid picture of Balinese life and art from prehistoric times up to the 20th century, with emphasis on the antique.
  • Ngurah Gede Pemecutan Museum and Studio - Jl. Hayam Wuruk Denpasar.
  • Museum Le Mayeur, just north of the Hotel Inna Grand Bali Beach Sanur, houses the private collection of the late Belgian impresionist painter, Le Mayeur.
  • The Museum Manusia Yadnya in Mengwi, just across the meat from the Puri Taman Ayun Temple, was founded several years ago with the admirable idea of preserving in a single collection, examples of the arts of Balinese temple offerings. Unfortunately, the museum has not been well kept and receives few visitors, but if you are fascinated by Balinese ritual life, this collection is a must.
  • Subak Museum, located on the right hand side of the road is the in the village of Sanggulan, just before Tabanan town. Opened in the early 1980's, this museum houses an eclectic and small collection depicting the subak (water irrigation for paddy fields) system and a typical Balinese household including all the implements used in a traditional wood burning kitchen.
  • The Archaeological Museum by the main road in Pejeng, less than 1 Km (0,6 mile) north of Bedulu on the Tampaksiring road, contains are excellent collection of Megalithic and Bronze Age remains found in this area, including huge stone sarcophagi and tiny Hindu lamps.
  • Agung Rai Museum of Art - Jl. Pengosekan Ubud.
  • Puri Lukisan Museum - Jl. Raya Ubud.
  • Museum Puri Lukisan in Ubud displays work dating from the late 1920s, when Balinese painters first began to break away from the formality of traditional painting styles, up until the present. Many were gathered by Dutch painter Rudolph Bonnet with the assistance of Ubud's price. It contains excellent contemporary painting's and carvings, most created during the past 20 years by artists living in or around Ubud. Recently, a new gallery has been added where selected works of art are on sale.
  • The Lempad Museum on the main street in Ubud houses the paintings of the famous I Nyoman Lempad, who died in 1978 at the ripe old age of 116. Noted for his pen and ink drawings (both erotic and non), his style is quite unlike traditional Balinese painting.
  • The Gedong Kirtya in Singaraja is a unique library of old lontar (palm leaf) manuscripts and scholarly Dutch book.

Temples - Coastal
  • Tanah Lot
    South-West Bali in Tabanan Regency, built on a large rock that gets cut off from the mainland at high tide, this is one of Bali’s most spectacular sights.
  • Uluwatu
    South Bali on Bukit Badung. This cliff-top temple, dedicated to the spirits of the sea, has spectacular views and is popular for viewing sunsets. During the Galungan festival people from all over the island travel here to worship.
  • Pura Jayaprana
    North-West Bali. Superb views of Menjangan Island and the surrounding coral reefs can be seen from this temple.
  • Pura Rambut Siwi
    South-West Bali (10 km from Medewi). Another cliff-top temple with views of Java and on a good day, Mt. Bromo. Steps down the cliff from the temple lead to a black sand beach where swimming is possible.

Temples – Inland

  • Pura Besakih
    Besakih, North-East Bali, Karangasem Regency. Bali’s most important temple with great views of Gunung Agung. The temple complex houses over 80 shrines to the various gods and spirits.
  • Pura Luhur Batukaru
    Tabanan – South Bali. Dedicated to the god of Gunung Batukaru, this temple is a small haven for flower bird lovers.
  • Pura Yeh Gangga
    Near Mengwi, Tabanan Regency.
  • Pura Ulun Danu Batur
    Near Batur village. The second most important temple after Besakih, housing more than 90 shrines. Worth visiting anytime of the year, especially during the Odalan festival. Dedicated to the goddess of the crater lake who controls the irrigation system for the entire island.
  • Pura Ulun Danu Bratan
    Near Bedugul. This temple has several shrines which are located on both the lake’s shore and on various small islets.
  • Pura Gunung Kawi
    Set in a ravine in Tampaksiring, the temple ‘Candis’ are carved into the rock face. There are five Royal Tombs at the near of the temple complex.
  • Pura Tirta Gunung Kawi
    A water temple dedicated to the Rice Goddess. Near the temple grounds is a small spring-fed lake with sacred gold fish which are the guardians of the Spirit of the Spring.
  • Pura Tirta Empul
    Considered the holiest spring in Bali, this temple is frequently visited by Balinese seeking mental cleansing and physical healing.
  • Brahma Vihara Ashrama Buddhist Monastery
    Near Lovina (combine with a visit to the Banjar Tega Hot Spring). The only Buddhist monastery in Bali, set in beautiful surroundings.

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