Along with beautiful beaches and rich cultural traditions, Bali is popular for its ancient archaeological sites reflecting traces of the old Hindu civilisation.
If you are holidaying in Bali and would like to take a break from the beaches and astonish the history buff in you, you can explore these prominent, ancient archaeological sites:
Snuggled amidst the picturesque, natural landscape of Tampaksiring, Gunung Kawi is a lovely temple and funerary complex built in 11th century. Consisting of 10 rock-cut shrines, it is where the local Hindus visit and pay homage to their gods and ancestors. It overlooks the Pakerisan River and to reach it, you will pass through beautiful rice terraces and lush foliage. Portraying the mystique of ancient legends and long lost tales of the forgotten Balinese kings, this archaeological site attracts many history buffs from all corners of the world.
Also known as Elephant Cave, Goa Gajah was built in the 9th century as a meditation site near Ubud. One of the major attractions of Ubud, it is where you can learn about the history of the region and explore distinctive, appealing sites. The relic-filled courtyard, central meditation cave, rock-wall carvings and a pool are all terrific attractions to explore in Goa Gajah.
Ulun Danu Beratan
Situated on the shores of Lake Bratan in the mountains close to Bedugul, Ulun Danu Beratan is a floating temple and a popular scenic landmark. Built in 1633, the place saw offering ceremonies to the Balinese lake, water and river goddess Dewi Danu. Dedicated to Lord Shiva and his consort Goddess Parvathi, the 11-storey pelinggih meru is a sight to behold in the temple.
Pura Kebo Edan
Famed as the “Temple of the Crazy Buffalo”, Pura Kebo Edan is situated in Pejeng Village of Tampaksiring. This temple is popular among tourists as well as locals for its 3m-high statue called the “Giant of Pejeng”. It got its name from one of the most legendary ancient local figures, Kebo Edan, and attracts visitors with a number of century-old statues including the most prominent Ciwa Bhairawa statue that features the shape of a male human body, and is considered a true portrayal of God Shiva.
With the stunning natural setting of Batulumbang village in Bedulu, Yeh Pulu is a fascinating archaeological site housing the longest sequence of rock relief panels in Bali. The 25m-long range of carvings imprinted into a rock face are a treat for the explorers whereas the fresh air and green paddies make it an ideal relaxing spot for all. A walk through a lush forest trail, freshwater springs and rice fields takes you to this site. The carvings, representing the Hindu gods and the mythological wayang or shadow puppet characters, appeal to all.