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Goa Gajah or the Elephant Cave is regarded as a significant Hindu archeological site and has also been listed as a tentative UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. The cave is just 10 minutes away from Ubud and lies near the Elephant River. It is a mysterious cave amidst the paddy fields with ancient bathing pools. Even the entrance to the cave creates an eerie vibe because of its demonic mouth figure, suggesting an entrance to the underworld. Some people also claim that the figure represents Hindu earth god- Bhoma while others say that according to Balinese mythology the figure depicts a child-eating witch- Rangda.
The relics found on the site of Goa Gajah, traces its history back to 11th century. Javanese poem Desawarnana, first mentioned about Goa Gajah and the Elephant Cave in the year 1365. The place holds great religious significance but some parts of it still remain unexplored, even after the last excavation of 1950. According to some popular theories it is believed that the cave was dug up with hands by Hindu priests but a number of Buddhists believe it to be related to Buddhist architecture and religion.
The temple is regarded as a sacred Hindu site and is also surrounded by various Hindu temples. Goa Gajah is a small cave, once you enter the dark and narrow passage, the cave ends abruptly in an intersection. The right passage leads to the Shivaling; in honor of lord Shiva and the left passage to the figure of Hindu God- Lord Ganesha. Outside the cave lies two square bathing pools, with fountains held by six female figures.
While visiting the cave, it is preferred to wear proper clothes i.e. your body should be covered till knees and a sarong is a must, which are available at the entrance of the cave. To click pictures inside the cave is prohibited because of the minimal space. There is no artificial light in the cave therefore the place is also not properly illumined. Goa Gajah celebrates its piodalan temple anniversary- 'Anggara Kasih Prangbakat' on the Tuesday of 210-day according to the Pawukon calendar.
It doesn’t take much time to complete the tour of the Elephant Caves therefore one can always visit the majestic nearby locations of the place like- the rice paddies, gardens, a small waterfall down the valley, remains of a Buddhist temple and some of the carved ancient stones lies in the river, allowing water to erase the history.
Timings are subject to change. You will be automatically booked into a time slot as part of the check out process. Please visit the official website to confirm the time slot before your visit.
Embrace the beauty of nature and ancient architecture
Walk around the surreal view
Visit the rice terraced fields
Have a splash of water from the small waterfall down the valley
Visit the remains of a Buddhist Temple nearby