Gunung Kawi, Tampaksiring 2015.05.08

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About 18km northeast of Ubud lies the Pakerisan Valley, a lush area also known as the "Valley of Kings". It's here in this valley that you will find the small village of Tampaksiring and the impressive pre-Hindu site of Gunung Kawi which spreads across either side of the Pakerisan River.

This ancient temple complex dates back to the 11th century and it really is like taking a step back in time (or at least to the set of an Indiana Jones movie).


Traveling along the main street in Tampaksiring, look out for a sign that reads "Objek Wisata Gunung Kawi" and turn down the side street that will eventually lead to a small parking area for Gunung Kawi.

There are several local stalls and small shops here selling the usual Balinese souvenirs like wood carvings, paintings and sarongs. Although you can hire them from the ticket office, it's a good excuse to buy a sarong of your own. Being a religious temple, the usual temple etiquette and rules apply, and this includes covering up with a sarong (for both men and women alike).



From the entrance to Gunung Kawi it's a rather steep climb down some 270 steps to reach the actual site itself. Luckily the pathway leads past some stunning scenery, and taking a break overlooking terraced rice fields is almost worth the trip alone.

So take your time, catch your breath, and enjoy the view!



The stairway continues to lead down to the river and at one point cuts through an embankment of solid rock. During our visit to Gunung Kawi, an important Hindu ceremony was taking place and many worshipers could be seen carrying offerings down to the temple.



Before entering the temple, it's asked that all visitors sprinkle some holy water over their heads. When in Rome...


The main attraction at Gunung Kawi are the 10 candi or shrines that are cut out of the rock face. The term candi refers to the abode of Candika, Goddess of Death, and companion of Lord Siva.

The rock-carved candis are unique to Bali and are unknown elsewhere in the world, making Gunung Kawi a particularly special place to visit. It's also interesting to note that contrary to what is often believed, candis are not tombs as they have never contained human remains or ashes.

Each statue stands in an 8m high sheltered recess cut into the cliff face, almost resembling a doorway.


The candis of Gunung Kawi are believed to be constructed in the 11th century (1080 AD) by king Anak Wungsu in honor of his father, the great Balinese ruler Udayana. Legend has it that the monuments were carved out of the rock face in just one night by the mighty Kebo Iwa, a mythical giant who possessed supernatural strength.

The holy Pakersian River flows through the centre of Gunung Kawi cutting the site into two separate sections with a bridge to connect one side to the other. Four smaller candis can be found on one side of the river, five larger candis are located on the other side, and there's also a remote tenth candi set further back from the others that few visitors know about.

Behind the small temple you can find several meditation caves, where monks and pilgrims came together to meditate.


In Balinese Hinduism, water that has passed over a candi (or shrines) is transformed into holy water, therefore making the water from the Pakrisan River very special indeed. Important religious ceremonies are held at the temple throughout the year and if you're lucky enough to visit Gunung Kawi at the same time a ceremony is happening, it's sure to be an experience you won't forget.



Opening hours 7:00 - 17:00
Location Tampaksiring, Gianyar, Bali
Entrance fees Adult:Rp. 10,000 / Child: Rp. 5,000
Sarong hire Rp. 3, 000 per person

Kura-Kura Bus Bali


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