There are too many temples in Bali that we often confuse one with the other. On the way over to Pura Tirta Empul, we went to Gunung Kawi by mistake. Well, what do you do when life gives you lemons?
Of course, we made lemonade! We got off our motorbike, paid the admission and grabbed some sarongs. We had no idea where the temple was so we just followed along with the crowd and hiked down a set of steps past a few more local vendors. Apparently, the entire site sits in a small river valley.
The scenery on the way over was fresh and breathtaking with rice fields in view.
When we first reached the bottom of the steps leading down to the river, we saw 4 tombs on the left and a small Balinese temple shrine was set up next to them. These are thought to be the tombs of King Anak Wangsu’s concubines.
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. It is believed the holy waters of the Pakerisan sanctify Gunung Kawi, and the eerie beauty of the place evokes a peaceful atmosphere.
Crossing the river on the small bridge brought us to the more impressive Royal Tombs. These are thought to be the King’s and his favorite wives’ tomb. The design of the candi structures at Gunung Kawi resembles that of 3-sectional structures in Java that were built with a stone capped grave to represent hell earth and heaven.
There is a Bhuddist monastery at the rear of the complex and cells hewn out of the rock around a stone pavilion within a courtyard. It is believed that the monks that lived here were most probably the caretakers of Gunung Kawi. To the east of this main group of cloisters, there can be found a smaller and second group of cells and thought to be used for sleeping and partaking in meals.
There is no other way out but up so if you are thinking of visiting Gunung Kawi as part of your temple run, go easy on your way up. If you find yourself catching your breath, make a stop and maybe enjoy a fresh coconut juice.
Have you been to Gunung Kawi? What did you think of it?