The 7 Amazing Ancient Sites 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.

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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.

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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
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.

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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.

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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.

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4. Goa Garba

Goa Garba is located at Pejeng Village, Tampaksiring District, Gianyar. If you use car, it is about 1 hour or about 34 km from Denpasar. This historic site is now becoming a tourist destination visited by many foreign travelers. This Goa Garba ancient relic is located beneath the Pengukur-Ukuran Temple estimated to have been built around the twelfth century AD during the reign of King Jayapangus.

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Goa Garba is a pasraman (a place to learn Hinduism). It is believed to have once been a place to test one’s power if they wished to be a leader. Goa means “cave” and Garba means “in the belly of the earth”. It is located beneath the Pengukur-Ukuran Temple. The temple was formerly used as a school for the kings of Bali. There are two paths leading to Goa Garba. Visitors can choose whether to enter the site through the main path of the Pengukur-Ukuran Temple, or the one that leads directly to the entrance to this historic site.

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It is situated on a steep cliff, right on the bank of the Pakerisan River. Based on information of local residents, Goa Garba is a hermitage niche carved on the wall of cliff edge of the Pakerisan River. On top of this hermitage lie a number of pools and showers where at pool side sits a hole leading to a cave. To achieve this cultural heritage, visitor must first visit a neat entrance gate with nicely arranged stairs made of river stone. Meanwhile, the entrance gate is made of sand stone. It is said that the cave was made by Kebo Iwa, a Balinese vice regent having supernatural power.

5. Candi Tebing Tegallinggah

Candi Tebing Tegallinggah is located in Bedulu Village, Blahbatuh District, Gianyar Regency. The location of candi is not so far from Denpasar City, it’s about 24 kilometers or 45 minutes. This candi was found by Krijsman who is the archaeologist from Dutch in the Dutch colonial era. It was built in 12th Century, it is according to the inscription which was found in this place. This candi makes Gianyar Regency to be the center of ancient site in Bali, because Gianyar has many ancient sites, like Goa Gajah, Goa Garba, Yeh Pulu, Gunung Kawi Temple etc.

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Candi Tebing Tegallingah was designated a cultural tourist site in 1992. The Candi was curved in the stone cliff and the candi was separated by the Pekerisan River. There are two temples with 18 hermitages, probably used for meditation and other religious purposes. There is a water fountain in cave and the water is usually used to purify various sacred temple ceremonial objects (melasti) such as pretima (wooden effigies to represent deities placed in temples) and others.

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You can see three lingga, the representations of Trimurti. Trimurti is the mean God of Hindu; those are Brahma God (the God of Creator), Wisnu God (the God of Maintenance) and Siwa God (the God of Destruction). Beside enjoy the sacred candi, you can enjoy the amazing panorama of rice field and forest.

6. 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.

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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.

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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.

7. 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.

Tirta Empul For more than a thousand years, Balinese worshipers have been drawn to Pura Tirta Empul, whose sacred spring is said to have been created by Indra and to have curative properties. The tradition continues almost unchanged at the temple today.
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.

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Overlooking the temple on a hill above is a suprisingly 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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