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Pura Goa Gajah | Bali Elephant Cave Temple

Bali holiday packages this time will explain about the legacy of temple which is often called the elephant cave temple (pura goa gajah). This holy place Is one of the historic caves, which have been recognized by the United Nations Organizations (UNESCO) became one of the world heritage. The shrine is often called by the name of Goa Gajah temple, which located at Banjar Goa, Bedulu village, Blahbatuh district, Gianyar regency, with mileage about 5 km from Ubud tourist area, or about 45 minutes from Denpasar city. Goa Gajah (bali elephant cave temple) has been known since the reign of several kings in Bali island, such as:

  • Sri Dharmawangsa Wardhana Marakata Pangkajastano Tunggadewa (in the year 1022 AD)
  • Raja Anak Wungsu (in the year 1053 AD)
  • Paduka Sri Maha Guru (in the year 1324 AD)

Goa Gajah Bali Elephant Cave Temple - Bali Temples, Holidays, Tours, Attractions
Goa Gajah Bali Elephant Cave Temple

And name of the temple itself is actually derived from the word "LWA GAJAH", which was written by MPU Prapanca in 1365 AD based on the book inscription of Negara Kertha Gama. Goa Gajah temple built in the-11th century, when at that time still ruled by King "SRI BEDAHULU", In the reign of King Hayam Wuruk on Majapahit era written that "LWA GAJAH" is located at Bedulu village as a hermitage place of "BODADYAKSA". There is also mentioned about Kunjarakunjapada term meaning "DORMITORY KUNJARA" which in Sanskrit means "ELEPHANT". The dormitory kunjara is owned by holy man Rsi Agastya that located in Mysore (South India), where there are many wild elephants living around the hostel, so there is the possibility that Goa Gajah temple built to remind about the hostel Kunjarakunjapada in India.

Preliminary findings of Goa Gajah temple is starting from the Dutch East Indies official report by L.C. Heyting in 1923, which reported the discovery of Ganesha statue, Tri Lingga statue, also Hariti sculpture to the Dutch East Indies. Then Dr. W.F. Stutterhiem start doing advanced research in 1925, and in 1950 the Office Archaeological site of Indonesia through a part of the ancient buildings in Bali led by J.L. Krijgman conduct research and excavations in 1954 until 1979, and they found an ancient holy water pool with six (6) female statue equipped with fountain chest. And the existence of these statue are believed can give an aura cleansing also positive vibrations for visitors until now.

There is a building that stored the statue of Queen Brayut (Men Brayut) or Goddess Hariti, who initially had a bad character, but after getting a Buddhist lesson eventually she turns into a children lovers as seen on the statue. And next to the upper right side of the cave's wall, there are words "Kumon" and "Shy Wangsa" that written in letters quadratic Kediri, and the meaning of these words still unclear known by historians. According to archaeological research of sculptural art form and an ancient holy water in Goa Gajah believed to be inherited on 11th century.

Goa Gajah Bali Elephant Cave Temple - Bali Temples, Holidays, Tours, Attractions
Goa Gajah Bali Elephant Cave Temple

Goa Gajah temple area are consists of two (2) main sections, namely:

Northern part which is inherited from Hindu - Shivaism with several artifacts found in this area are:

  • GANESHA statue which stored in the cave:
In Hindu mythology, Ganesha is the son of Lord Shiva with Goddess Parvati (Uma). Ganesha is also often referred as a hazard repellent (Ganapati), as well as wisdom symbol (Vinayaka). Moreover, Ganesha also has seven names in accordance with his duties. And face of Ganesha himself has an elephant face, human body, also he had four arms, each hand brings something different which is symbol of:
  • PARACU (ax): As a symbol to destroy all hazards (ie combat the ignorance that is in our minds)
  • MANGKUK (bowl of water / sweets) with proboscis suck into the bowl which became symbol of knowledge that must be acquired through education, in which we must always learn both at school or at community for a better future.
  • PATAHAN TARING (fracture of canines): symbol of self malignancy (keraksasaan) which has been controlled (self introspection).
  • AKSAMALA (unbroken chain): symbol of infinite knowledge (ie although we are smart there are still many things that we have to learned when we were still living in the world, because basically that knowledge will never end).

  • TRI LINGGA statue:
There are 3 (three) phallus which is basically symbol of Lord Siva, based on Hindu concept of Tri Murti (Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva). And each of the phallus surrounded by 8 small phallus that grounding in one place. And in general Lingga Yoni (upright stones) is a symbol of strength / power, prosperity, and welfare.

  • Statue fountain of WIDYADARA - WIDYADARI:
Female statue with fountain chest, became symbol of angel from heaven who gives prosperity water of live. In this temple heritage, especially water is usually more used for the purification ceremony, especially in religious rituals which held every 210 days on the bali calendar or every six (6) months, and water in this place is a symbol of "AMERTHA" (water of life). Other philosophy that springs out of the statue is also a symbol of "Sapta Gangga" or (7) seven holy seas such as: Gangga, Yamuna, Sindhu, Saraswati, Godavari, Narmada, and Serayu.

  • MEN BRAYUT / QUEEN BRAYUT (Statue of Goddess Hariti):
This sculpture tells the story of a family with many children become symbol of prosperity, other mythology also tells of stories about Goddess Hariti, in Buddhism categorized as "Yaksa" classified as a predator of children, who named Yaksa Pancika, and her husband named Yaksa Atawaka, but after receiving lessons from kindness of Buddha, the Goddess Hariti eventually become caretakers and lovers of children.

  • Statue of Buddha (Dhyani Buddha):
Is a symbol of world Buddha Amitabha now, with Vajradhatu concept, which controls the western side with hand gesture in meditation tapa (Dhyana Mudra).

Southern part is the heritage of Buddhism which close to Tukad Petanu / Tukad Pangkung that has been discovered by Mr. Concrat Spies (in the year 1931) and few artifacts were found in this area are:

  • Thirteen tiered of BUDDHIST STUPA (Catra composition or carved like an umbrella) and three branched stupa carved on a large rock:
Became symbol golden age of Buddhism era. According to the research this catra is made in the-10th century, contemporaneous with the inscription Blanjong (Sanur) around the year 913. The condition of this stupa is incomplete because of disaster that occurred Bali in 1917.

  • QUEEN PETAPAN BUDDHIST temple:
Located in the south part, above of the Petanu river (Tukad Pangkung), there is a Buddha statue that is stored in a building. The existence of this statue is estimated there since the-9th century, this is one evidence of the spread of Buddhism in Bali.

Areas of this Goa Gajah temple was built by King Sri Bedahulu in 1365 AD, and the King was conquered by Gajah Mada in the year 1341 AD, and became a subordinate kingdom of Majapahit. In the inscription has been explained that the King of Sri Bedahulu have the name of King "Sri Astasura Ratna Bumi Banten".

So clearly the basic concepts in Goa Gajah temple is a mixed culture of Hinduism and Buddhism (Shivaism and Buddism) is archaeological evidence in Goa Gajah which is a reflection of religious tolerance in the past that can still be found today in Bali. According to historical information, Buddhist relics around the 9th century, until the 10th century, and the Hindu religion the 11th century.

Goa Gajah temple is very famous frequented by tourists both domestic and foreign tourists when they do Kintamani Bali Volcano Tours.

For detail information how do tours to Pura Goa Gajah (Bali Elephant Cave temple) and other interesting places around whether for a half day trip or full day tour, so we please you to contact us at Sorga Bali Tours.
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