Goa Gajah Bedulu (Elephant Cave)

Goa Gajah also known as Elephant Cave is a very easy place to find and get to if you’re in the Ubud area. If you see buses in the parking lot when you arrive expect to be surrounded by tourists.  IMG_1238

It’s a good thing Goa Gajah has many different areas to explore, if one is swarming with visitors you can visit a different section.  There’s a large garden, bathing pools, the Elephant Cave, Buddhist Temples, rock carvings along a cliffside pathway and a very large,  impressive tree that is said to be sacred.

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At the end of the downhill pathway you’ll immediately see a bunch of stones stacked on the left.  These were some of the original stones that were part of carvings and temples at the Goa Gajah site.  They are said to still contain spirits.

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DCIM100GOPROGOPR2528.IMG_1248I continued my exploration to the two bathing pools located in front of the sacred tree.  The stairs to the pools were scattered and worn, some with moss so be careful if the stones are wet. The six female statues have water streaming into the shallow bathing pools. The holy water is now used for purification purposes not bathing.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR2531.The Elephant Cave is to the left of the bathing pools. The distinct carvings outside of the cave are noticeable from a distance and don’t resemble an elephant, in fact the face is a bit scary.

The cave itself is surprisingly smaller then I expected it to be.  It’s very dark and filled with incense smoke which made it difficult for me to explore, my allergies instantly kicked in as I entered.  The T-shaped cave has small altars, two with three rocks symbolizing the God Shiva and a statue of Lord Ganesha.

IMG_1267IMG_1272DCIM100GOPROGOPR2544.IMG_1269I loved wandering around the gardens and area around the Buddhist temple. There are large stone pieces of a carved statue that separated from the upper cliffside and fell into what looks like a small waterfall.

We were told not to enter the area so it’s a bit hard to describe the natural water source.  One can walk through the large forest area, stroll around the pond or sit under the huge trees with amazing roots!

It’s quite amazing to know that Goa Gajah was discovered less than a hundred years ago.  The cave and bathing pools were buried underground, covered with leaves and hidden by trees.  The archeologists did an amazing job reconstructing and displaying what it once was.IMG_1252DCIM100GOPROGOPR2526.

Pura Gunung Kawi Tampaksiring

Gunung Kawi TampaksiringOne of my favorite temples in Bali is Pura Gungung Kawi Tampaksiring.  Despite the fact that no one warned or prepared me for the hundreds of steps one needs to walk to get to this magical area, I still rate this one of the most memorable attractions in Bali.

The path was very scenic so we stopped a few times to take some pictures or cool off under a tree overlooking the valley and rice terraces. On my way down, I passed other visitors dripping with perspiration and walking out of breath.  I thought the blazing sun was the reason for their exhaustion but that was only part of the reason.

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It felt like forever before I reached the end but after 20 minutes, I finally arrived at the temple entrance lined by tall carved rock walls. A bowl of water and plumeria flowers stand at the front entrance. It is used to cleanse yourself before entering the temple.

Gunung Kawi Tampaksiring

I couldn’t decide where I wanted to explore first.  There were towering carved statues in the cliff walls, waterfalls, a beautiful river and tropical foliage everywhere!  4 carved shrines stood on the left path near the path entrance so I checked them out first.  I can’t even describe how impressed I was with the rock carvings, I was speechless!

Gunung Kawi Tampaksiring

Gunung Kawi Tampaksiring

I could see a small waterfall on the other side of the Pakerisan River and quickly crossed the bridge to head over there.  I discovered a path to the river and passed 5 more shrines to the waterfall.

Gunung Kawi Tampaksiring

Gunung Kawi TampaksiringI saw a really cool tunnel carved in the wall, but was told I couldn’t explore it because it was sacred. Darn! I love caves and tunnels.

Gunung Kawi Tampaksiring

Gunung Kawi Tampaksiring

According to some legends the 11th Century statues were carved out of the rock face in one hard-working night by the fingernails of Kebo Iwa, a strong giant that could’ve accomplished the deed with his size and strength. It remains a mystery of what the statues were actually used for and what happened in this sacred temple hidden deep in the valley.

Gunung Kawi Tampaksiring

Gunung Kawi Tampaksiring

There are lots of small vendors on the path to the temple, selling water, food and souvenirs.  Here’s a tip, grab some bottled water to keep hydrated for your trip to the temple and back, and check out what kind of food and snacks you may want while walking down to the temple. Purchase souvenirs on your way up!

Gunung Kawi Tampaksiring

Gunung Kawi Tampaksiring

I’ll definitely return for a second visit and will be better prepared to enjoy this beautiful oasis. I plan to bring lunch, some chilled beverages and swimwear too.  I will devote more time to spend as well, there are so much more to explore and experience. If you’re in the Ubud area make some time to hike down to the Valley of the Kings!

Entrance Fee – 15000 idr (approximately $1.50 USD) per Adult