Rock cut Balinese temple of Gunung Kawi

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.

Gunung Kawi Rice Terraces Panorama.JPG

Gunung Kawi Rice Terraces.JPG

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.

Gunung Kawi Temple.JPG

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.

Gunung Kawi Creek.JPG

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.

Gunung Kawi.JPG

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.

Gunung Kawi Shrines.JPG

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?

Travelosio Sarah Osio Signature

36 Comments Add yours

  1. Mel & Suan says:

    We’ve read about this temple from other blogs too and it seems you did not find a lemon but rather a gem!


  2. Lacey says:

    Just beautiful .


  3. 1944april says:

    The one thing that stick in my mind at this temple is the 350 steps down and what felt like 550 to climb back . . .:-o)


  4. soulsensecoaching says:

    I love visiting temples and this looks beautiful. Definitely an unexpected surprise worth exploring!


  5. Sarah Bailey says:

    I was amazed by the King’s and his favorite wives’ tomb. Are there 4 wives? And it was built with a stone-capped grave to represent hell earth and heaven. Isnt’ it magnificent? truly our history did make a lot of sense, very original and bold.


  6. momknowsbest15 says:

    I would love to see this place. It is so pretty with all the green and the water.


  7. thetravelpockets says:

    The more I read about Bali, the more I want to go there. The tombs are so cool!


  8. I would loveto go there!! Looks really interesting and pretty.


  9. Ana De-Jesus says:

    As a big history fan, as much as the views are beautiful I think I would be most interested by the kings tombs. They are impressive!


  10. Kimberly c. says:

    No I have not been here, but I must say it is gorgeous. I’m amazed at all the nature green in these pics. So pretty. I thinknitnwould be fascinating to see the rock cut temple. Bucket listing a temple run 😉


  11. Amy Jones says:

    Honestly, never been or heard of this place until now. It seems absolutely beautiful anyway! Would love to visit it


  12. Amber says:

    What a cool place! I’ve never been but would love to. What lovely photos!


  13. Brandi H says:

    Great photos! Sounds like an amazing place to visit. It looks so peaceful.


  14. Chloe says:

    Those holy waters look so beautiful. What a pristine and peaceful looking place to visit.


  15. Joanna says:

    I have to say that you’ve made a really damn good lemonade. The place is really beautiful, all surrounded by nature. I wouldn’t mind is I mistakenly would get there. 🙂


  16. Oh my goodness, this would be a great experience. I’ve never seen anything like the temple, I’d stay all day taking photos of the entire place.


  17. Karlyn Cruz says:

    This place is really something. I’ve always known Bali to be a really authentic place but the nature here is just so engraved with their temples.


  18. Elizabeth O. says:

    It’s a beautiful place to visit! I love the breathtaking view. It would be nice to take it slow though and just take your time climbing up. It would be a waste to get past such a lovely view so fast!


  19. lilytravella says:

    I’d never heard of Gunung Kawi before, but it’s on my bucket list now.


  20. tiffanyhathorn says:

    It looks so beautiful and peaceful! So many places to discover on this planet.


  21. I would love to be abe to visit, so much history and natural beauty. The pictures are just such a great selling point, beautiful country.


  22. I’ve been to Bali but not Gunung Kawi! This looks like a great place to visit. Love the view and the structures. Hope to visit Bali again!


  23. EG III says:

    That’s the beauty of getting lost. Sometimes getting lost is the best way to be found. In hindsight, if you could go back and directly visit Pura Tirta and skip Gunung Kawi…I guessing you probably wouldn’t!


  24. Anosa says:

    I think getting lost is the best way to discover a place and with views like these why not. I have not been to Bali yet but hope to visit one day soon


  25. I’ve never been in Gunung Kawi though I visited Bali several times. The temples and the nature surround are serene and peaceful.


  26. Dhemz says:

    oh, my goodness! What a gorgeous place. I would love to visit here someday. Thanks for sharing!


  27. Violinkit says:

    Gunyung Kawi looks amazing. I have never been to Bali and never in a temple. I hope to do both very soon. Beautiful photos!


  28. Wow what an absolutely beautiful location. Thanks for sharing your beautiful photos.


  29. lastchance3 says:

    This place is gorgeous! What a privilege it must have been to see! I really need to add Bali to my travel list.


  30. Tauyanm says:

    this looks amazing! i’ve been to bali or indonesia so many times before but haven’t seen this temple! thanks for the post! will check it out next time im back!


  31. These photos are lovely, and it looks so beautiful there! It reminds me of my home in Hawaii!

    Happy Holidays!


  32. lex says:

    Bali has alot of nice destinations and this is one so good too.

    Amazing scape and lovely images.


  33. Keith Haney says:

    What an amazing find. You have to marvel at the human creative spirit. Even without the modern tool people find a way to leave a lasting impact on humanity.


  34. Debbie J. says:

    This is amazing! The trip looked like so much fun. TO be honest, I’m a little jealous of the older colonizations. Their architecture was breathtaking and their systems were perfect. Not to mention, life was so much easier.


  35. Robin Rue says:

    This looks like such a beautiful area! I would love to be able to visit somewhere like this with all the old style structure.


  36. Aziel Morte says:

    Sounds like a good place to visit and I love to go in the temple. Btw Such a stunning photos I love it


Share your thoughts. I would love to hear them!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.