Goa Gajah, the Elephant Cave
high-definition creative commons photographs from Goa Gajah, the Elephant Cave, Bali together with further information.
use j/k or left/right arrow
to navigate through the photos below
The Sacred Fountains
It is surprising that the sacred fountains (tirta) that we come across when entering the Goa Gajah complex were only uncovered in 1954. The Tirta consists of two separated pools, presumably for males and femaless, with three fountains delivering water from posts held by divine nymphs in each, and a gallery between.
The cave which gives the complex its name is further inside, and may have been a Buddhist meditation cave at one time. The entry to the cave is surrounded highly-stylized reliefs, quite unlike anything I saw anywhere else. Quite how it has gained the name of the Elephant Cave is not clear, unless the Bhoma face was misidentified when it was found in its originally damaged state.
The entry to the T-shaped cave faces south (considered a dangerous direction in Bali), and has a Bhoma face over the entrance, presumably to keep out evil spirits. There are also the usual door guardians, and waterpots on either side, which I was told would have held rice-wine (arak).
Inside the cave there are around 15 niches, some, along the entrance section, appear to be suitable for someone to sit and meditate in; others across the T-junction at the top are enough for statues and offerings.
One of them contains a fairly large Ganesh statue at present, and another three lingas, having floral decoration. Although in the photos it can’t be seen, it appears that below the covers over each linga are eight much smaller lingas, all carved out of the same stone.
The Temple and Sacred Trees
There is a modern temple alongside the cave nowadays, and when we got there they had just finished a 15-day festival there, and the decorations were still up.
There are many sacred trees in the complex, as is common in all Balinese temple areas. One that struck me was an old kapok tree, which was decorated with penjor.
The Collapsed Temple Relief
A little distance away from the main site there is another site, which runs near to the river Petanu. The reliefs have fallen into the ravine, and are broken now, but appear to have been a carving of a stūpa on a rock face. Above that rock face there is now a small temple.
Photographs by Anandajoti Bhikkhu
About this Website
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License