Bedulu Village, Bali, Indonesia
October 9, 2018

Goa Gajah or ‘Elephant Cave’ is an archaeological site that dates back to the 11th century. Although it is called as such, it is not a place one could expect elephants, rather it is a place for spiritual meditation that played a significant role in the history of Bali.

Relic fragments depicting Hinduism are scattered all over the cave, with some dating back to the 10th century. One of these fragments is the stone figure of Ganesha, a Hindu god with an elephant head, said to have inspired the cave’s name.

The pool, which was excavated in 1954, houses Hindu statues holding vases as waterspouts. Other structures feature components of Buddhism that could be traced around the 8th century.

Some theories suggest that the ‘Elephant Cave’ was named after the Petanu River, which was originally known as ‘Lwa Gajah’ or the ‘River Gajah’. Ancient inscriptions also make reference to Antakunjarapada or ‘elephant’s border’.

Upon entering the cave, visitors must pass through the mouth resembling that of an elephant’s face carved into the rock-wall. Once inside, various elements can be seen that are sculpted out in the outer-face of the cave depicting animals and forests.

* * *