The Bukit (or "hill" in Indonesian) is the southern peninsula in Bali, starting from Jimbaran beach, and includes famous surf spots like Balangan, Bingin, Padang Padang and Uluwatu.
Most tourists head this way to see the popular kecak dance performance at Uluwatu Temple which takes place every evening at sunset. Another tourist attraction that can be found en route to Uluwatu Temple is GWK Cultural Park, a sprawling area of around 60 ha located in Ungasan.
Simply known as GWK, the park is home to a gigantic (if incomplete) statue of the Hindu god, Wishnu, and is also a popular outdoor venue for events such as music events and traditional dance performances.
GWK is the site of the ongoing construction of what will be the most impressive works of art ever created in Indonesia’s art history - an enormous statue of Wishnu riding on the back of a mythical Garuda bird.
Currently standing at 23m high, the statue is planned to be one of the tallest modern day sculptures in the world and once completed, will be higher than the Statue of Liberty!
The project began in 1997 and is only about a quarter finished. The completed parts of the statue so far are the upper body and hands of Wisnu and Garuda's head.
The statue will be a staggering 120m high once complete, with the wingspan of the Garuda reaching 64m. This daunting task was entrusted to one of Indonesia’s most reputable sculptors, Nyoman Nuarta.
Mr Nuarta designs and carves the statue in its various parts in his workshop in West Java, and then the pieces are transported to Bali - a challenging undertaking in itself.
To get a real understanding of the scale of this huge sculpture just have a look how small the people look standing next to it and bear in mind that that is only the upper part of the body; the lower part is yet to come!
Even though the main attraction is less than half way complete, GWK is still a popular attraction for both locals and tourists alike with approximately 3,000 visitors coming to the park every day to enjoy the panoramic views and cultural performances held at its various venues.
A unique way to get around the large park is to hire a Segway, a two-wheeled vehicle with self-balancing technology that is electric powered. No previous experience is required and children over 6 years (and accompanied by an adult) can also join the fun.
This is where most visitors begin and end their visit at GWK, and often where street show performances take place. After all the sightseeing has been done, pop in to the GWK Souvenir Shop or Bali Art Market, or have a relaxing foot massage at the reflexology outlet.
You can also see the story of Garuda Wisnu Kencana which has been carved into four big stonewalls surrounding the area.
Wisnu Plaza is the highest level of the park and its here where the main attraction, the upper part of the statue, is temporarily placed. This is usually the first place that visitors head to, proving it sometimes difficult to get a photo without anyone else in it!
The views from Wisnu Plaza spread all the way to Kuta, Benoa and Sanur. Traditional dance performances are also held here at certain times of the day so be sure to check the schedule when you arrive so as not to miss it.
Before heading up the stairs to Wisnu Plaza you will see a fountain known as Parahyangan Somaka Giri. This sacred well is believed to have healing powers and the water is considered holy by locals.
For stunning views across Bali, head to Jendela Restaurant. The word jendela means "window", and the restaurant was designed as a viewing cafe where visitors can take in the vistas from its elevated level while enjoying authentic Balinese cuisine.
Situated at 300 m above sea level, the restaurant boasts views of both sides of the ocean that surround the island, with Jimbaran and Kuta Beach on the west coast, and Tanjung Benoa and Sanur Beach on the east coast.
Also enjoying scenic views is The New Beranda Restaurant, a casual place that offers all-you-can-eat menus and buffet menus at affordable prices - perfect for larger groups.
Acoustic music performances are held at both Jendela Bali & New Beranda.
Entrance into the park includes free performances and events that are held daily. A schedule is displayed just outside the Amphitheater entrance so you can plan your visit easily.
Most performances are held inside the Amphitheater, these include Barong Kris Dance, Balinese Dance, Garuda Wisnu Ballet, Joged Bumbung and the popular Kecak Dance.
A Kecak Parade begins at 6pm at Street Theater and continues to Plaza Wisnu, on to Lotus Pond, and ends back again at Street Theater.
It's almost unimaginable just how big the completed statue at GWK will be. For now, what has been finished and the park itself makes for an interesting day out filled with sightseeing, local food and lots of Balinese culture.
|Opening hours||Monday - Sunday , 8am to 10pm|
|Entrance Fee||Rp. 100,000/person|
|Address||Jl. Raya Uluwatu, Ungasan, Kuta Selatan, Bali|
|Tel||+62 361 700 808|