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 thoughts on “Rock cut Balinese temple of Gunung Kawi

  1. Sarah Bailey

    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.


  2. Kimberly c.

    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 😉


  3. Joanna

    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. 🙂


  4. Karlyn Cruz

    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.


  5. Elizabeth O.

    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!


  6. EG III

    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!


  7. Debbie J.

    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.



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