Goa Gajah temple, is one of the historic cave, which has been recognized by United Nation Organizations (UNESCO) became one of the world heritage, and this holy place often referred to as: "Bali Elephant Cave Temple" (Pura Gua Gajah), which located in Banjar Goa, Bedulu village, Blahbatuh sub-district , Gianyar regency with its mileage about 5 kilometers from Ubud tourist area while distance from Denpasar city about 45 minutes by vehicles.
Gua Gajah temple has been known since the reign of several kings on Bali island, such as:
- King "Sri Dharmawangsa Wardhana Marakata Pangkajastano Tunggadewa" (in the year 1022 AD)
- King "Anak Wungsu" (in the year 1053 AD)
- King "Paduka Sri Maha Guru" (in the year 1324 AD)
And name of Goa Gajah temple itself actually comes from word "Lwa Gajah", written by "Mpu Prapanca" in the year 1365 AD based on inscription "Negara Kertha Gama". The archaeological site of bali elephant cave temple was built in the 11th century which at that time still ruled by King "Sri Bedahulu".
In the reign of King "Hayam Wuruk" during the era of "Majapahit Kingdom" be written, that "Lwa Gajah" located at Bedulu village serves as a holy hermitage of "Bodadyaksa", there are also mention about "Kunjarakunjapada" which means: "Dormitory Kunjara" in Sanskrit means: "Elephant".
Kunjara's dormitory is belonging to a holy hindu priest named: "Rsi Agastya" which located in Mysore (South India), and there are many wild elephants live around his dormitory. So there is a possibility of Goa Gajah temple built to remind about the Kunjarakunjapada in India.
The initial invention of Goa Gajah temple starts from official report by: "L.C.Heyting" in the year 1923 AD, which reports discovery of "Ganesha statue", "Tri Lingga Sculpture", also "Hariti statue" to the Dutch East Indies goverment.
Then "Dr. WF Stutterhiem" starts doing advanced research in 1925, and in 1950 the Archaeological sites office of Indonesia through the ancient buildings division in Bali led by "JL Krijgman", then conduct research and excavations in 1954 until 1979, and they found an ancient holy water pond with 6 (six) statues, previously was seven (7) women sculptures with shower chest.
And the existence of these fountain statue until now believed able to provide cleansing vibration aura. There is a building that saves the sculpture "Men Brayut or Goddess Hariti" who initially had a bad character, but once learn Buddhism eventually turns into loving the children, as seen on the sculpture now.
And next to the upper right side of the cave wall, found writing in letters quadratic Kediri, ie: "Kumon" and "Shy Wangsa", and its meaning still unclear known by historians. According to archaeological studies the forms of sculptures and the ancient holy water in Goa Gajah temple believed and inheritable in the-11th century.
The elephant cave temple region consists of two (2) Main parts, ie:
Heritage hindu-shivaism complex at northern side and artifacts found in this region, ie:
- STATUE GANESHA, saved in separate building at outside of the cave area and inside the cave there is another one Ganesha statue. In Hindu mythology, Ganesha is son of "Lord Shiva" with "Goddess Parvati (Uma)". Lord Ganesha also often referred as repellent danger (Ganapati), as well as symbol of wisdom (Vinayaka).
- Paracu / Kapak (ax): as symbol to destroy all sorts of dangers (meaning: fight against all kinds of ignorance in our minds).
- Mangkuk (Bowl of water / candy): with proboscis suck into the bowl (meaning: symbol of knowledge that should be acquired through education, we must always learn both at school or in community for a better future.
- Patahan Taring / Holding one fracture canines: symbol of malignant character (greed) which has been controlled with self introspection.
- Aksamala (unbroken chain): Symbol of infinite knowledge (eventhough we feel smart, but still there are many things we have to learned while we are still a life in the world, because basically the knowledge will never end).
- TRI LINGGAM STATUE, Located inside the cave, there are three (3) phallus (upright stones) which basically become symbol of "Lord Shiva", based on Hindu concept in form of Tri Murti, ie: "Brahma", "Vishnu", "Shiva". And each of these phallus surrounded by eight (8) small phallus on a grounding in one place, and generally "Lingga Yoni (upright stones)" is symbol of "Strength / Power / Life / Prosperity and Wellbeing".
- FOUNTAIN WIDYADARA-WIDYADARI STATUE, A row of statues with fountain, became symbol of angel from heaven who gives prosperities. This heritage, especially the water which come out through the fountain normally used for purification ceremony, especially when the religious rituals which held every 210 days on Balinese calendar or every six (6) months, and the water in this place is a symbol of "Amertha" (water of life).
- MEN BRAYUT (Goddess Hariti) STATUE,The existence from this sculpture tells the story of a family with many children who became symbol of prosperity, the other mythologies also told a story of Dewi Hariti, in Buddhism categorized as "Yaksa". Yaksa which classified as predator of children, named "Yaksa Pancika", and her husband named "Yaksa Atawaka", but after receiving lessons from the kindness of Buddha, Goddess Hariti eventually become affectionate to the children.
- BUDDHA (Dhyani Buddha) STATUE, This statue is symbol of Buddhist world Amitaba now, with the concept of "Vajradatu", which controls the western side with hand gesture in "Meditation Tapa (Dhyana Mudra)".
In addition, Lord Ganesha also have 7 (seven) name in accordance with his duties from 108 names that owned, and face of Ganesha himself has an "Elephant's face", with human body who has four (4) arms, respectively hand brings something different things as symbol of:
Other philosophy from row of these statues also become symbol of "Sapta Gangga" or seven (7) Holy River, such as: "Gangga river", "Yamuna river", "Sindhu river", "Saraswati river", "Godavari river", "Narmada river: and "Serayu river.
South region heritage is Buddhism complex near "Tukad Petanu / Tukad Pangkung" (Petanu river) which found by "Mr. Concrat Spies" in 1931, with artifacts found, ie:
- THIRTEEN (13) TIERED of BUDDHIST STUPAS, (composition Catra which carved like an umbrella) and Three branched stupas carved on boulders. All these stupas as symbol of Buddhism golden age. This Catra was made in the 10th century AD, contemporaneous with Blanjong Inscription (Sanur) around the year 913 and the conditions of these stupas incomplete caused by disasters that occurred Bali in 1917.
- QUEEN PETAPAN BUDDHIST TEMPLE, Located in south part, near Petanu river (Tukad Pangkung), and there is a Buddha statue kept in a building. The existence of this statue is estimated there since 8th century, and this is one proof of Buddhism spread in Bali.
Goa Gajah temple was built by "King Sri Bedahulu" in 1365 AD, finally the King was conquered by "Gajah Mada" in the year 1341 AD, then become subordinate kingdom of "Majapahit". In the inscription be explained that King Sri Bedahulu has the name of "King Sri Astasura Ratna Bumi Banten".
So obviously the basic concept in Goa Gajah temple is a cultural mix of Hinduism and Buddhism (Buddhism and Shivaism). This is archaeological evidence at Goa Gajah temple which is a reflection of religious tolerance in the past that still be founded now in Bali island.
According to historical information, Buddhist relics older around the 9th century until 10th century AD, and Hinduism relics in the 11th century. Pura Goa Gajah very well-known and frequently visited by tourists both domestic and foreigners when they do Kintamani Bali Volcano tour.
While the price of entrance fee ticket will be charged at IDR. 30,000 rates quoted per person and must be paid at the front counter before heading to Bali elephant cave temple.
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