Seven Bali Holidays

Goa Gajah

Ancient site of Balinese Religious Learning centre

The Goa Gajah 'Elephant Cave' is an archaeological monument on the chilly western outskirts of Bedulu Village, 6 kilometers from Ubud's center. The name Goa Gajah can be deceiving to the uninitiated, giving the impression that the site is a massive elephant-filled residence.

After descending the stone steps to the Goa Gajah temple complex, it usually takes no more than an hour to tour the relic-filled courtyard and enjoy the granite carvings. The location includes a meditation cave with the same name, as well as bathing ponds and fountains.

What to Expect in Goa Gajah
Various art and souvenir businesses, as well as refreshment booths, line the roadway and parking space in front of the site. When you enter the courtyard, you'll see a big wantilan gathering hall and a collection of large antique stone carvings, some of which have been restored to their former brilliance. The pool, which was discovered in 1954, contains 5 of the alleged 7 statues of Hindu angels carrying vases that operate as waterspouts. Hindu influences can be seen in many structures dating back to the 10th century, while some relics even have Buddhist features dating back to the 8th century. There are three stone idols wrapped in red, yellow, and black cloths inside the cave, which is shallow. As a result of today's incense burning, the cave's walls are covered with black soot. There are several indentations where meditating priests used to sit.The complex's northern half is predominantly Buddhist, while the southern half is mostly Shivaite. Beautiful rice fields and little streams lead to the Petanu River, another place interwoven in local mythology, at the complex's southern end. The Goa Gajah was built on a hillside where two minor streams met to form a campuhan (river junction), making the spot sacred and the reason it was built for hermetic meditation and prayers.
What's the story behind the name?
Despite the fact that the name Goa Gajah means "Elephant Cave," you won't find any pachyderms here. The name's origin has been suggested by a number of ideas. One is based on the fact that the Petanu River was once known as 'Lwa Gajah' before being renamed Petanu River. According to other sources, the elephant element comes from a stone statue inside the cave depicting the Hindu god Ganesh, who is known for having an elephant's head. Antakunjarapada, which loosely translates to 'elephant's boundary,' is also mentioned in ancient inscriptions. The cave's entrance has a scary gigantic face as the door, with its wide open mouth. The outside rock face is engraved with many themes depicting the forest and animals. The enormous face was thought to be that of an elephant.
Goa Gajah is a popular tourist destination.
Women on their periods are prohibited from entering the temple, the same case with any temple in Bali. Wearing a sarong and waist sash is mandatory to entering this religious site. These can be rented at the main entrance. Every 'Anggara Kasih Prangbakat' Tuesday on the Balinese 210-day Pawukon calendar, the Goa Gajah temple commemorates its piodalan temple anniversary. Each year, this day corresponds to a different day on the Gregorian calendar.

Open : Daily 08.00 am to 05.00 pm

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