Bedulu. Goa Gajah

Written by on June 10, 2012 in Bali Temple with 0 Comments

Bedulu. Goa Gajah

Goa Gajah, or Elephant Cave, is an archaeological complex in the village of Bedulu, 3km east of Ubud. Now a temple site, it boasts an assortment of large old structures and relics, some restored to their full glory today such as a bathing pool with working water spouts for holy water during ceremonies.

Goa Gajah attracts visitors and local Hindu pilgrims. Various structures reveal Hindu influences dating back to the 10th century, and relics feature elements of Buddhism dating even earlier to the 8th century. Hence, the site is a silent witness of the Hindu-Buddhist era, built about the same period as that of the Borobudur temple in Central Java.



Goa Gajah Highlights


Goa Gajah is intertwined with the history of the Bedahulu (oftentimes referred to as ‘Bedulu’) kingdom, an ancient territory that ruled from the 8-14th centuries in Bali’s region of current-day Pejeng.

Besides a rich assortment of artefacts in the open-air compound, there are also beautiful landscapes and natural beauty through surrounding rice fields and small streams that lead to the Petanu River – another legendary site.

Goa Gajah was built on a hillside and as two small streams met here forming a campuhan or ‘river junction’ the site was considered sacred and was built for secluded meditation and prayers.

The cave is shallow; inside are three stone reliefs each wrapped in red, yellow and black cloths. The cave walls are lined with black soot resulting from the current-day incense burning and several indentations show where meditating priests once seated.

The northern side of the complex is dominantly Buddhist while the southern relics across the river are mostly Hindu or Shivaite. A bathing pool with spouting statues is located near the cave entrance which was excavated in 1954. Holy water is sourced from these spouts during religious ceremonies. Five out of supposedly seven statues depict Hindu angels or bidadari pouring into the pools. 

Good to Know about Goa Gajah


Even though the site’s name translates into ‘Elephant Cave’ in English, you won’t find any elephants here! Various theories suggest the origin of the name. The Petanu River is a central aspect and was originally called ‘Lwa Gajah’, meaning the ‘River Gajah’, before it came to be called Petanu River.

Other sources state that the ‘Gajah’ or elephant aspect came from the relic inside the cave depicting the Hindu lord Ganesh, who is characterised by an elephant’s head. Ancient inscriptions also allude to the name Antakunjarapada, which roughly translates to ‘elephant’s border’.

The cave’s entrance shows a menacing giant face with its wide open mouth as the door. Various motifs depicting the forest and animals are carved into the outer rock face. The giant face was considered to be that of an elephant’s.

The complex is open daily 08:00 – 16.00. As with any temple in Bali, women during their periods are forbidden entrance and wearing a sarong and waist sash is a must. These are available for rent at the entrance. 

Goa Gajah temple celebrates its ‘piodalan’ temple anniversary on an ‘Anggara Kasih Prangbakat’ Tuesday on the Balinese 210-day Pawukon calendar.

Opening Hours: Mon – Sun, 08:00 – 16.00
Location: Bedulu Village, Jalan Raya Goa Gajah, Blahbatuh, Gianyar
How to get there: Go east from Ubud approximately 3km towards Jalan Raya Goa Gajah

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