5 Gianyar Ancient Sites

Enjoying the Historical and Sacred Place in Gianyar

The Gianyar Regency is the centre of Balinese culture, rich in history and artifacts. Gianyar’s history is arguably the most fascinating in Bali. The town of Gianyar itself is a small administrative town, home to one of the best-preserved palaces on the island, but unfortunately closed to visitors. Besides of that, Gianyar has many amazing ancient site;

1. Gunung Kawi Temple

Gunung Kawi Temple is located near Tampak Siring village, around 5 km from well known Tirta Empul Temple. The location is 35 km from Denpasar, city, 50 km from Kuta, and 68 km from Nusa Dua. It is still one route from Goa Gajah Temple, Pura Pusering Jagat, Gunung Kawi Temple, and Tirta Empul Temple.

Gunung Kawi Temple is two rows of ancient royal tombs on the banks of the Pakerisan River deep in a ravine overlooked by terraced rice-fields. 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 beauty of the place evokes a relaxing and peaceful atmosphere.The monuments are shaped in relief on a solid rock hill, commonly called “candi”. There are shaped like burial towers, telling identity of the royal personages honored here. Those are mostly found all over Central and East Java.

As the sources from any historical books about Bali and related to the information given by the temple’s care taker, Ketut Raharja suggested that Those five ‘candi’ in the main group were built for King Udayana, his Javanese queen Gunapriya, his concubine, his illustrious eldest son Airlangga who ruled over East Java, and his youngest son Anak Wungsu. Reigning over Bali from AD 1050 to 1077, Anak Wungsu is believed to have given up his kingdom to become a religious hermit.

2. Goa Gajah

Goa Gajah is located in west side of Bedulu Village, BlahBatuh District, Gianyar Regency. It is about 27 km from Denpasar town. This cave is built at crevasse edge from the federation of 2 rills that is called Pangkung River, where the irrigation is mixed with Petanu River flow. The federation area of two rivers is called Campuhan/Mixture.

Goa Gajah word probably derived from the word of Lwa Gajah, the name of Vihara (Buddhist Temple) or the park for Buddhist monks. This name had been written on Lontar (palm leaf) of Negarakertagama compiled by Mpu Prapanca in 1365 AD. Lwa or Lwah/Loh means river so what is meant here is the hermitage located in Gajah River or Air Gajah. It was also mentioned in the inscription year 944 Saka that Ser Ring Air Gajah that is means the chief of Subak (irrigation system organization) at Air Gajah. It is signaled that the hermitage of Lwa Gajah located at Gajah River Subak. In the inscription year 1103 Saka issued by Jayapangus King (the king who famous with it authority, which make the Bali’s name become famous in that era) mentioning that Air Gajah is a hermitage for Shiva Priest. Based on this date, it can be concluded that the hermitage is now renamed to Goa Gajah.

The structure and relief of Goa Gajah can be explained that the structure of Goa Gajah is T-shape consisted of;
The outside of the cave in the form of vertical-shaped hall, divided into 2 parts and each section has 2 niches.
The inside of main room has 11 niches with horizontal shipped. There is a statue of Lord Ganesha set in west corner, meanwhile in the east corner there are 3 on the pedestal and each of phallus is surrounded by small phallus.

3. Yeh Pulu

Yeh Pulu Relief is located in Bedulu Village, Blahbatuh District, Gianyar Regency or 1 hour from I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport. Yeh Pulu consisted by 2 word, Yeh means water and Pulu means the pottery. This name was taken by the pottery of holy water in the western part of relief. Yeh Pulu Relief was found by Ubud’s courtier in 1925 and Dr.W.F Sutterheim (archaeologist from Dutch) conducted research of this place in 1929. This place offer ancient relief in the hill which the length is 25 meters and the high is 2 meters. This relief estimate was built in 14th or 15th AD.

This Place has 5 fragments which contain different story than each other. The mostly story in the relief is Krishna as God Wisnu’s reincarnation. Beside of that, we can see the relief of Bendahulu King who lost battle against Majapahit Empire in 1343 AD. Many archaeologists come to this place for reaching all this relief because some relief has not been identified.

4. Batuan Puseh Temple

The famous Pura Puseh in Bali is Batuan Puseh Temple. It’s located in Batuan Village, Sukawati District, Gianyar Regency. You will take 1 hour from Ngurah Rai International Airport or 30 km. This Temples was built at 944 Caka (Balinese Year) or 1022 AD or we can say it’s one of the oldest temples in Bali. Batuan Puseh Temple has many unique things, besides the curving in the wall, this temple offer archaeological heritage comes from prehistoric period.

The local people preserve and care about the temple’s architecture and its environment. Some buildings were old buildings but the local people have been undergone renovation, renewal, and change from 10th century to 13th century and also 18th century AD. The structure and foundation of this temple are very tough and strong. It has the original Balinese ornament that beautifully craved on every building at this temple area. Some ornaments are reflection of The Ramayana Epic story and every holy building has different function philosophically.

You will find an ancient building called Wantilan, this place use as a meeting hall and to practice any kind of Balinese dances as Rejang Dewa Dance, Pendet Dance, etc. In the middle yard of temple there is a long building / bale called the Bale Agung and Bale Kulkul (a gong mad by wood or bamboo).You also see a high entrance Balinese Gate called the Kori Agung in middle yard, which is flanked by the many guardian statues shaped the giant sculpture. The function of Kori Agung is the door where the exit and entry for the gods symbolized by a small statue called Pratima. Next to the Kori Agung there are two small doors as a place of exit and entry of people into the temple’s main yard. In the main yard of the temple there are some three story Meru and Bale Pengiyasan as a symbol of the temple of Besakih, there is also a building called Padmasana as a place of worship to Sang Hyang Widhi, the only one Bali Hindu’s God.

5. Tirta Empul Temple

Tirta Empul Temple is located in the village of Tampak Siring, accessible by public transportation from Ubud. The Tirta Empul Temple includes the traditional Balinese split gate along with shrines to Shiva, Vishnu, Braham, Mt. Batur, and Indra. There is also a large open pavilion in the main courtyard, useful for relaxing in the shade.

But the main attraction here is a long rectangular pool carved of stone, filled with koi and fed by the sacred spring via 12 fountains. Worshippers first make an offering at the temple, then climb into the main pool to bathe and pray. Many collect the holy water in bottles to take home. Nearby there are two smaller pools fed by the spring.

Overlooking the temple on a hill above is a surprisingly modern building: the Government Palace, built in 1954. Originally a residence for Dutch officials, it was later used by former President Soekarno during his frequent trips to Bali.

It is recommended place to visit when you get holiday in the Amazing Island, where you just book your trip through a reliable travel agency. I believe your trip will be awesome and get unforgettable experience.


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