• Gunung Kawi

    Besides a temple complex you see all around Bali, at Gunung Kawi you will also find rows
    of tall tombs carved in stone

  • Tombs of Tampaksiring

    The tombs at Gunung Kawi are dedicated to the royal family. However it still remains
    uncertain who these royalty exactly are.

  • Rice field terraces

    The nice thing about the mysterious Gunung Kawi is its setting among rice field terraces
    making it even more the reason to pay it a visit.

  • Walking through the fields

    If you walked down the fleet of stairs and passed the temple and tombs at Gunung Kawi
    you are able to walk through the rice fields towards a small river.

Breath-taking views on the green valley of Gunung Kawi


Gunung Kawi temple is located on the outskirts of Tampaksiring, a 20-min drive north of Ubud on the road to Bangli. The best time to visit this sight is early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

When we arrived early in the morning there were only a handful of people, which made the whole complex quiet and peaceful. The perfect way to take in the astonishing scenery.

 

gunung kawi in tampaksiring bali
Try to visit this temple complex, it's picture perfect...

 

Entrance fee is around Rp6000 and the friendly lady at the entrance booth will lend you a sarong and a temple scarf if needed.

Then it’s time for some exercise...

Here you have to descend the stairs along several souvenir shops before you reach the river Pakrisan, which divides the two rows of tombs carved out of rock, a small temple and the meditation caves.

This is without doubt the most beautiful temple setting of central Bali with stunning rice fields and palm trees which seem to be dancing on the sounds of the river below.

The temple complex including the river and the rice fields is considered sacred to the Balinese and this explains why the they have put in so much effort in making this area so amazing.

The ten tombs carved were built in the 11th century and are surprisingly well maintained considering the weather circumstances.

 

royal tombs at gunung kawi in bali
The 5 tombs of the royal family

 

The tombs were carved out of the walls and are dedicated to members of the royal family. Nobody knows exactly which members but there are two theories.

One says the five tombs across the river are dedicated to king Udayana, his queen Mahendradatta, their oldest son Airlangga (who ruled eastern Java), their youngest son Anak Wungsu (who ruled Bali from 1050-1077AC) and Marakata.

The other four tombs are dedicated to the chief concubines of king Anak Wungsu.

With the cremation of the king the four concubines had to commit suicide according to the Hindu custom. They did this by jumping off a high podium into the flames so they could be with the king in the after world.

 

matthias verbaan in front of the huge gunung kawi tombs
I look really tiny next to the tombs

 

The other theory says that the 9 tombs are dedicated to king Anak Wungsu, his wives and his concubines.

Tomb number 10 is found south-east of the main temple after a 10-minute walk through the rice fields. This one is dedicated to a high priest or the first important minister of Anak Wungsu.

Behind the small temple you can find a couple of meditation caves, which indicates that this is a pre-Hindu place where monks and pilgrims came together to meditate.

 

meditation caves at gunung kawi in tampaksiring bali
meditation caves

 

You have to take of your shoes in front of the entrance of the cave complex since this place is considered holy as well.

When we walked around the small temple we met a Balinese man who told us that former president Sukarno, Soeharto and Megawati have all been to the meditation caves to ask for success in their presidential campaigns.

Whether they got their success depends on how you look at it right?

He also pointed out the small inscription in one of the tombs, which states clearly the old Javanese language at that time and therefore the relationship between Bali and its neighboring island Java in the 11th century.

 

matthias verbaan walking through the rice fields at gunung kawi bali
Walk through the rice fields to a little water fall

 

If you have some extra time to spend in this mystical place then go for a stroll to the waterfall. It’s located only 5 minutes from the 5 tombs on the left side. But be careful, it can be very slippery in the fields.

Try to leave before the afternoon, when the sun is at its highest. The heat can make the climb up the stairs pretty tough.


Home > Central Bali Sights > Gunung Kawi

Tirta Empul

Just minutes from Gunung Kawi you can find one of the most important temples on Bali. It's holy spring attracts Balinese who rinse themselves in the ancient baths.

Read more
Goa Gajah

Several theories about the Elephant cave has been made but until today its origin remains a mystery. Nevertheless it is a beautiful sight to visit.

Read more
Rice Field Trail

The rice fields are one of the things that has made Bali famous as a holiday destination. So wouldn’t it be great to walk through them? In Ubud you can.

Read more
Courses in Bali

If you want to learn more about the Balinese culture then you can. Many workshops invite travelers to learn the skills of painting, Gamelan, offering making etc.

Read more

Popular Pages

Testimonials

Now and then people send us inspiring emails and this generates even more enthusiasm to share all of the things we know about this lovely island in the hope that you can plan your tropical holiday properly and have as such a great time as we always have. Hope to see you there!