On the Road to Candidasa: Elephant Caves and the Water Palace

Goa Gaja: Click to enlargeOn New Year's Day we departed Villa Kunang Kunang for the village of Candidasa, located on the eastern coast of Bali. Our first stop was the Goa Gaja or "Elephant Cave," a popular attraction just east of Ubud. This complex, dating from the 11th century, overlooks the Petanu River and features a Siwaitic rock-cut cave in the shape of an elephant, from which the complex gets its name. The cave is shown in the center of the photo to the left.  Also featured in the complex is the sacred bathing pool (also shown in the photo) as well as a small monastery, numerous rock-cut stupas, and statues of Ganesa and Hariti. Animism, Buddhism, Hinduism--a veritable pantheist's pantheon! While this sort of attraction would have normally been bustling with international tourists during this time of year, we weren't surprised to find only a smattering of Javanese tourists. The international set just wasn't well-represented in Bali this December -- a shame, really, given how utterly "safe" the place is!

Ceiling of Hall of Justice: Click to enlargeFurther to the east we entered the city of Klungkung, once the capital of Bali's largest kingdom. At the center of town is the former home of the royal family, a water palace which was connected to the hall of justice. From here the Balinese kings ruled with absolute authority. The photo to the left shows a view of the water palace, with the hall of justice in the center. In keeping with the somber tone, a fierce creature overlooks the floor of the hall of justice, and its ceiling is covered with colorful, provocative, and often violent scenes.

Back to Bali Page