Goa Gajah, the Elephant Cave

high-definition creative commons photographs from Goa Gajah, the Elephant Cave, Bali together with further information.


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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.

001 View of Sacred Fountains

01 View of Sacred Fountains

002 Sacred Fountains pouring Water

02 Sacred Fountains pouring Water

003 Sacred Fountains

03 Sacred Fountains

004 Sacred Fountains Close Up

04 Sacred Fountains Close Up

005 Sacred Fountains from Side

05 Sacred Fountains from Side

006 Sacred Fountains Single

06 Sacred Fountains Single

007 Small Shrine

07 Small Shrine

Goa Gajah

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.

008 View of Caves

08 View of Caves

009 Entrance to Caves

09 Entrance to Caves

010 Dwarapala

10 Dwarapala

011 Carving Detail

11 Carving Detail

012 Pot for Arak

12 Pot for Arak

013 Rice Wine Pots

13 Rice Wine Pots

014 Pot for Arak

14 Pot for Arak

015 Ganesh

15 Ganesh

016 Carving Detail

16 Carving Detail

017 Bhoma Close Up

17 Bhoma Close Up

018 Meditation Ledge

18 Meditation Ledge

019 Shrine inside Cave

19 Shrine inside Cave

020 Ganesh inside Cave

20 Ganesh inside Cave

021 Triple Lingam

21 Triple Lingam

022 Lingam

22 Lingam

023 Looking our from inside

23 Looking our from inside

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.

024 Modern Temple

24 Modern Temple

025 Three Shrines

25 Three Shrines

026 Solitary Shrine

26 Solitary Shrine

027 Decorated Old Kapok Tree

27 Decorated Old Kapok Tree

028 Decorated Old Kapok Tree

28 Decorated Old Kapok Tree

029 Old Tree

29 Old Tree

030 Tree in Garden

30 Tree in Garden

031 Wayside Shrine

31 Wayside Shrine

032 Wayside Shrine

32 Wayside Shrine

033 Offerings at Old Tree

33 Offerings at Old Tree

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.

034 Overview of Collapsed Temple

34 Overview of Collapsed Temple

035 Collapsed Temple

35 Collapsed Temple

036 Collapsed Temple

36 Collapsed Temple

037 Collapsed Temple Peak

37 Collapsed Temple Peak

038 Old and Sacred Tree

38 Old and Sacred Tree

039 Shrines near Tree

39 Shrines near Tree

040 Prehistoric carved Shelter

40 Prehistoric carved Shelter

041 Pathway through the Site

41 Pathway through the Site

042 Wall Corner Decoration

42 Wall Corner Decoration

043 Wall Corner Decoration

43 Wall Corner Decoration

044 Empty Shrine

44 Empty Shrine

045 Lotus Pond and Hut

45 Lotus Pond and Hut

046 Female Statue

46 Female Statue

047 Female Statue

47 Female Statue

048 Dwarapala

48 Dwarapala

049 Gateway

49 Gateway

050 Kulkul Wooden Clappers

50 Kulkul Wooden Clappers

051 Modern Hall and Shrine

51 Modern Hall and Shrine


Photographs by Anandajoti Bhikkhu

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