Gunung Kawi Temple
This unique and truly impressive temple complex from the 11th century comprises 10 rock-cut candi (shrines). They stand in 7-metre-high (23 ft) sheltered niches carved into the cliff face. The monuments are dedicated to King Anak Wungsu of the Udayana dynasty and his favorite queens.
This temple complex is thought to be the burial complex of King Anak Wungsu and his wives and favorite concubines. The area is quite large and you can walk around quite freely. So take your time and feel into this ancient and beautiful place. If you are lucky you will see a ceremony or see women preparing offerings. Gunung Kawi is still used today for ritual ceremonies.
The complex is considered as one of the oldest temples on Bali, with it’s origins dating to the times before the kingdom of Majapahit.
The Gunung Kawi complex is located in the Bali’s region Tampaksiring, which is about 20km north east of Ubud.
The temple is only about 2 kilometers away from Tirta Empul. If you are physically fit enough you could decide to visit both.
To get to the temple and shrines you need to descend 371 stone steps leading you through a beautiful Balinese sawa scenery (rice fields) to the Pakerisan river. Four shrines are located on the west side of the river, five on the east side. The tenth is located in the south.
Take your Sarong with you. If you forget you can borrow one at the entrance. You need to walk almost 1km to reach the temple. The walk is beautiful, but not easy. Going down is one thing, but getting back up another, particularly in the hot and moist air of Bali. But, you will be rewarded for your effort.
You will see two pots filled with still water at the end of the stair case. If you are asked to wet your hair with it as a ritual, politely say no thank you. We are not all too sure about all the creatures that made this water their home.
Local women carrying offering on their heads to the shrines (left picture).
The carved shrines are 7 meters tall. When standing in front of them look around and imagine how this place looked like more than a 1000 years ago. No stairs, no land clearing, no pathways; only jungle, rocks, and a river deep down in a valley.