Locally known as Goa Gajah, the Elephant Cave is a historical archaeological site located on the western part of Bedulu Village in Ubud, Bali. The Elephant cave is no ordinary cave. It’s a sacred site for meditation and is also a temple of worship. The cave itself is surrounded by bathing pools, fountains and a sprawling courtyard decorated with traditional Balinese relics and rock-wall carvings.
Origins of Goa Gajah
Goa Gajah literally translates to “Elephant Cave” in English, but there is not a single pachyderm that lives in the area. No one knows why it was named Goa Gajah, but some locals say it was named after the stone figure within the cave that the Hindu god Ganesh. But there are others who say it was named after the cave’s mouth that resembles that of a gaping elephant mouth. While no one can provide information on the definitive origins of the cave’s name, Elephant Cave is one of the most popular destinations for trekkers and nature lovers.
What to Expect
Before entering the cave, you’ll have to wear a sarong and waist sash. You can either bring your own or rent from nearby shops. As with most sacred sites in Bali, women who are on their period are prohibited from entering the premises. The admission fee costs 15,000 rupiahs for adults and 7,500 rupiahs for children.
Exploring the Cave
Just a few steps away from Goa Gajah, are various art shops, souvenir stores and warung. You’ll have to take the stairs going down the large meeting hall. The hall leads right up to the central grounds of the complex. Most of the relics in the cave are hundreds of years old, but some pieces have been restored to their old glory. There is also an excavated pool bedecked by five Hindu angels holding a vase. According to historians, the Hindu angels used to work as waterspouts in the past.
Some of the relics within the Elephant cave dates back to the 10th century. Some of the Buddhist artifacts are much older, some existed as far back as the 8th century.
Guests are greeted by three stone deities inside the cave. The gods are covered in black, red, and yellow fabric. Since several religious rituals are held in the cave, the walls are covered with black soot produced by the burnt incense.
Photo credit: fatboo.com
If you walk past the southern part of the complex, you’ll be treated to a panoramic view of the rice paddies and fresh-water streams connected to the Petanu River.
Have a great time and tell us all about it!
Opening Hours: Daily, 8:00AM – 4:00PM
Location: Bedulu Village, Jalan Raya Goa Gajah, Blahbatuh, Gianyar
How to get there: Go east from Ubud approximately 3km towards Jalan Raya Goa Gajah