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Goa Gajah Bali
Written by Rhea Alex on April 27, 2020 Share on

Goa Gajah Temple Bali – Mysterious Elephant Cave Temple of Bali

First time visitors to Bali are seen eagerly queuing up at the menacing entrance of the ‘Goa Gajah,’ a seemingly mysterious cave located about 10 minutes away from Ubud. The Goa Gajah is commonly known as the famous ‘Elephant Caves,’ because of its close proximity to the Elephant River. 

Goa gajah cave temple Bali

This popular attraction has gained the attention of tourists over the years and continues to be one of the most visited places in Bali today. The entrance of these massive caves of Goa Gajah give visitors the feel of entering an underworld era The caves are surrounded by green rice paddies and primal bathing pools that lure tourists even in this day and age. 

The Goa Gajah Caves also found its place in the ‘UNESCO World Heritage Site,’ listings in 1995.

 

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The History of Goa Gajah

The Goa Gajah Elephant Caves are said to be of great ancient significance as they have been recognised as a sanctuary that has been entirely dug by Hindu priests dating back to the 11th century. 

Though the Goa Gajah caves are known as a sacred Hindu site, the proximity of the caves to an ancient Buddhist temple has initiated questions on its significance to early Buddhists who lived in Bali during that period. 

Some Hindu devotees are of the belief that the entrance to the caves resemble ‘Bhoma,’ the Hindu earth God, while the Balinese mythology states that it represents the mouth of ‘Rangda,’the witch known to eat little children. 

The Excavation Site

The entry to the Goa Gajah caves includes a walk through a number of souvenir shops and kiosks along the way. The northern part of the caves is predominantly Buddhist in nature while the southern part of the caves associates itself with ‘Shivaite.’ Structures surrounding the cave are found to date back to the 10th century with a few exceptional Buddhist relics descending from the 8th century.

Tourists visiting the caves are expected to wear a Sarong and a Sash before entering into the temple site. 

Inside the Goa Gajah Temple Bali

As tourists keenly walk through the narrow and dark passages of the Goa Gajah Elephant Caves, they begin to stutter upon abrupt intersections that eventually bring the caves to a sudden end. Tourists who explore the left pathway of the cave, stumble upon a statue of ‘Lord Ganesh,’ the Hindu deity that resembles an elephant whilst those who investigate the right pathway come across a ‘stone lingam and yoni,’ a worship area in devotion to ‘Lord Shiva.’

Visiting the Goa Gajah Elephant Cave

  • The Goa Gajah temple is open to tourists between 08:00 am to 04:30 pm throughout the week.
  • Tourists wanting to explore the interior extension of the cave will have to avail entry tickets. The cost of the tickets is about IDR 15,000 per head.
  • Visitors are expected to dress in accordance to the norms of the temple, with both men and women ensuring that their knees are covered. Sarongs and Sash’s are also available at the entrance of the temple. 
  • Also, please keep in mind that photography of tourists during their time of worship within the worship site is strictly prohibited.
  • The Goa Gajah caves have little to no artificial lighting so tourists must be prepared to enter a world of near darkness within the caves.

Around Goa Gajah Temple Bali

The beauty of the Goa Gajah caves lies beyond the cave itself and transits into its beautiful surrounding. The Elephant caves hold religious sentiments but it’s the surrounding in itself that draws the most attention.  

The endless lush green paddy fields, ancient stone steps and beautiful gardens is what lies in store for those enthusiastic tourists who go beyond the caves and explore the scenic splendour of nature that awaits them.

Some tourists are so marvelled with the place that they even go ahead and climb the long flight of stairs taking them into the ‘Shady Valley,’ taking them into a remarkable waterfall, an incredible sight that is totally worth the visit.

How to get to Goa Gajah Temple

The Goa Gajah Temple are located about 10 minutes from Ubud and are accessible through a number of varied options. The distance from Seminyak is about 30 kms thus leading to an approximate of almost 50 minutes of travel by car.

You can be part of a number of tours that are conducted of the Goa Gajah and its surrounding area, thus enabling the exploration of the paddy fields and temples that lure the area as well. 

Daily motorbike rental options are also available from Ubud for tourists wanting to self-explore the place. The cost for the bike rentals is about 5 dollars a day. The freedom of choice to explore the other tourist sites in Ubud is a big plus when it comes to such rentals.

The taxi rentals are another comfortable option that you could consider, especially if you’re travelling with family or a larger group. The cost for taxi rentals is about IDR 1,07,000 and offers a relaxed travel all the way through.

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