Information before you go
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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!
When I wrote the mail I never really expected a reply. I might have expected a computer generated but never a personally written one. The information you provided is invaluable, thank you so very much. I have been using your website as a bible through Bali. Through your recommendation, I will be heading to Ubud then follow the sightseeing route to the coast of Candidasa.
WOW...what an awesome website. I could only dream that there would be a website like this for all our travel destinations! You guys have done an fabulous job and now, I am sooo excited about our upcoming trip to Bali. To be honest, I wasn't quite sure Bali was the place for us considering some of the travel warnings (we are Americans). But I can tell from your experiences that the Bali people are so very kind and peaceful.
hi and congratulations on the blog it s brilliant and helpful....we are going to Bali in September with my family (including 2 little girls) so we need to have nice spaceous rooms garden and pool access rooms preferably in Semikyak but not too far from it all...I hope you can recommend a great place thats not full of Australian crowds as we like meeting people from other countries.
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