Usually, a temple is a kind of solid holy building made from stones or bricks. However, on the side of the Pakerisan river, Gianyar there is a complex of temple which is carved on the natural stone wall. Not just temples, this complex also completed with a meditation room.
Gunung Kawi is located beside Pakerisan River, in Sebatu Village, Tegalalang District, Gianyar. The way heading to Gunung Kawi is the same way to reach Tirta Empul Tampaksiring. This place is about 40 km from Denpasar and could be reached by 1 hour driving. Meanwhile, from Gianyar, this place is only 20 km or could be reached in a half hour. Gunung Kawi is also an easy tourism object to visit because public transportations like taxi, bus, or travel agency can easily reach this place.
Gunung Kawi is in the category of good tourism object in Bali because it has completed with many facilities like spacious parking lot, restrooms, travel guide, shops, and restaurants around the area.
This temple is called Gunung Kawi, or Kawi Cliff Temple. This place is a preserved archaeological site and also a sacred temple for the Hindu. The name “Gunung Kawi” is derived from word “gunung (mountain)” and “kawi (carving).” It was estimated that the construction of this temple was done in 11 BC, during the era of King Udayana until Anak Wungsu.
According to the history of Bali, from his marriage with Gunapriya Dharma Patni, King Udayana had two sons, Erlangga and Anak Wungsu. When they were grown up, Erlangga became the king of East Java, meanwhile Anak Wungsu became the king of Bali. It was estimated that the construction was finished in Anak Wungsu’s era. Another version of the Gunung Kawi construction history is also exist. From the local people story, Gunung Kawi was made by a person named Kebo Iwa. Kebo Iwa is the legend of Balinese who had a giant body and strong magical power. Using only his fingernail, he carved the stone wall on the side of Pakerisan River into temples. With his magical power, the work of creating this temple was done only in one day.
Gunung Kawi is a unique and attractive tourism object which has been attracting many visitors. To see the beauty of this temple, first we must go down the 315 stairs heading into the riverside. Peaceful atmosphere, beautiful green panorama, and sound of the waters will accompany us to reach the temple. The stairs in this area was made from paras (white sandstone) stone framed with stone walls.
After arriving in the temple complex, we will see two groups of temples which is split by Pakerisan River. The first complex consists of four temples which are located on the west of the river facing east. Meanwhile, the second complex consists of five temples located on the east side facing west. In the first complex, we can see a swimming pool completed with traditional stone showers. Here, there is also a room for meditation called ”wihara.” Wihara was carved in a firm cliff and completed with yard, small rooms with windows, and ventilations which are also functioned as the hole for sun light on top of it. It was predicted that the rooms inside wihara were used for meditation or meeting between the priests or royal figures. These two complexes of temple are very beautiful with the amazing detail and complicated temple carvings on the stone wall of the cliff. Every temple was created in a niche which was designed to protect it from erosion.
Other sites which are adjacent to Gunung Kawi are ancient gates and hermitage called Geria Pedanda. The researchers called this place as “Makam ke-10” or the 10th tomb, because an inscription written “rakryan” was found here. This word literally means the graveyard for ministries or royal officials. Meanwhile, if we head southeast, a bit far from Gunung Kawi there are also some unfinished niches with hermitages and wihara.
Gunung Kawi complex was deliberately built for the funeral of the king, but in the reality it is only symbolization to honor them. Visiting this place will give you peaceful atmosphere, so many people come here to meditate or pray. This place also offers a tranquil aura with its fresh air and quite location.