Goa Gajah (“Elephant cave”) is one of the oldest monuments on the island Bali. In General, this is not just a cave, but an entire system of temples, pavilions, pools and statues. The “Elephant cave” is located above the Petanu river in the village Bedulu. The first European people came to this place only in 1923. Prior to that, the place was carefully preserved by locals as particularly sacred and revered.
It is still under debate, whether this cave is a Hindu or a Buddhist site. These two religions left clear prints on the design and decoration of the place. The first mention of this place occurred in Javanese chronicle of Nagarakertagama composed by Mpu Prapanca in 1365. It particularly explains that a highly-enlightened Buddhist lived there with his disciples-hermits.
The entrance to the cave was designed as a face of a great demon guarding this place from onlookers. There are many different versions, why this demon is here and why the place is called “Elephant cave”. The most common variant is the following: the cave was named after the Hindu God Ganeshi, whose statue is located in the depths of the cave, which is one of the main Hindu Gods. The grotto of the cave is made in the form of the letter “T”. There are 15 niches hollowed in the walls, apparently, they are places for meditation. The walls of the cave are strewn with small recesses for lamps. It is very dark inside the cave, so tourists are advised to bring flashlights. There is a swimming pool with three Apsarasas (nymphs) in front of the temple.
This Balinese temple is very like an Indian one. And it is absolutely not like all the other temples. You can reach the cave by taxi or rented bikes. As in any place in Bali, it is best to arrive here early in the morning. It is not so hot and there are no many people.
Jalan Raya Goa Gajah
8° 31′ 24.2″ S, 115° 17′ 10.89″ E
Adult price: IDR 15,000
Children price: IDR 7,500