Bali has an abundance of ancient temples which have fascinating stories and legends that surround them. Goa Gajah temple and archaeological site is a popular tourist destination which is located six kilometres out of central Ubud, on the western side of the village of Bedulu. Goa Gajah’s name means “elephant cave” and it derives from the centuries-old statues of the Hindu god Ganesha. For those that love to trek through thick green forests and immerse themselves in an ancient meditational place, Goa Gajah temple is your destination.

A Spiritual Ground Where Hinduism and Buddhism Merge

This spiritual place of meditation dates back to the 11th century, being part of the Balinese empire of Bedahulu until its end in the 14th century. The main site has a courtyard filled with relics that feature elements from both Hinduism and Buddhism, moss covered rock-wall carvings, a central meditational cave, pools and fountains. The north part of the complex is predominantly Buddhist, while the south side that’s set across the river is mostly Shivate.

Also, at the southern, there are beautiful green rice fields and small streams that take you to Petanu River, a natural site infused with local legends.

Outside there is a bathing pool, which was excavated in 1954. Pilgrims used to bathe here under the seven statues that sprout water, which are said to represent the seven great rivers of India. There are now 5 statues still in place.

The Elephant Cave

The actual cave is quite shallow and carved into natural rock, inside being threes tone idols wrapped in black, red and yellow cloths. The cave’s walls are covered in black soot for the incense that is burned here. The entrance depicts a large menacing face – thought to be that of an elephant, along with various natural motifs.

The main site is located down a flight of stairs that are near the roadside and parking area, where you will find various souvenir shops and stands with refreshments. Although the temple is not far away from present-day Ubud, its site seems centuries away apart. Click here to see the best resorts in the area of Ubud.