Monday, April 11, 2011
The Elephant Caves Bali - GOA GAJAH (I loved this place so much)
Situated in Bedulu Village, Gianyar, Goa Gajah is believed to have been carved from a hillside as a monastery in the 11th century, though it wasn't rediscovered until 1923. The name of this cave is probably taken from the nearby Petanu River, which at one time was known as Elephant River, or possibly because the entrance to the cave resembles an elephant. It is used by the Balinese as a holy place for worshipping the God Shiva and his elephant-headed son Ganesha.
Buddha statues and fertility symbols can be found inside the cave, suggesting that it had a long history of religious use. Today, it is a cool, dark place to contemplate Bali's distant past.
The origins of the cave are uncertain. One tale relates that it was created by the fingernail of the legendary giant of Kebo Iwo. It probably dates at least to the 11th century, and it was certainly in existence at the time of the Majapahit takeover of Bali. The cave was rediscovered by Dutch archeologists in 1923, but the fountains and bathing pools were not unearthed until 1954.
Inside the T-shaped cave you can see fragmentary remains of Lingam, the phallic symbol of the Hindu God Shiva, and its female counterpart the Yoni, plus a statue of Shiva's son, the elephant headed God Ganesha. In the counter yard in front of the cave are two square bathing pools with water gushing into them from waterspouts held by six female figures. To the left of the cave entrance, in a small pavilion, is a statue of Hariti, surrounded by children.