Goa Gajah, Bali's Ancient Harmony
Goa Gajah is a significant Hindu archaeological site, Located on the cool western edge of Bedulu Village, six kilo meters out of central Ubud, Bali. It is a relic-filled courtyard and view the rock-wall carvings, a central meditational cave, bathing pools and fountains.
Goa Gajah is thought to date back to the 11th century, although relics predating this time were found within proximity of the site. The first mention of Goa Gajah and the Elephant Cave was in the Javanese poem Desawarnana written in .
Despite the ancient significance of the Elephant Cave, the last excavation took place during the 1950s; many sites still remain unexplored. Literal piles of relics with unknown origins have been laid out in a surrounding garden. The leading theory suggests that Goa Gajah was used as a hermitage or sanctuary by Hindu priests who dug the cave entirely by hand.
Although accredited as a sacred Hindu site, a number of relics and the close proximity of a Buddhist temple suggest that the site held special signifi cance to early Buddhists in Bali.
The menacing entrance to Goa Gajah looks like a demonic mouth, suggesting that people are entering an underworld as they venture inside through the darkness. Some claim that the entrance represents the Hindu earth god Bhoma while others say the mouth belongs to the child-eating witch Rangda from Balinese mythology.
The cave is shallow; inside are three stone idols each wrapped in red, yellow and black cloths. Black soot lines the cave’s walls as result from the current-day incense burning. Several indentati ons show where meditating priests once sat. The northern side of the complex is dominantly Buddhist while south across the river it’s mostly Shaivite. In 1995 Goa Gajah was listed as a tentati ve UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In many way, visiting Goa Gajah will gives you a “true Balinese” vibe, a visit to the ancient Balinese culture, a visit to a palce where nature and culture blend together to form a peaceful harmony.
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