Gunung Kawi Temple is a collection consisting of ten candis, which were designed to evoke the appearance of temple fronts and to provide the souls of ancient kings with residence. The candi are hung on both sides of the Pekerisan River into the valley walls.
There is an interesting history in the Gunung Kawi. Inscriptions for each Candi approximate the construction date to be in the 11th century. Each temple is believed to have served as a memorial to a deified royalty primarily because it is shaped just like the burial towers, or Candi’s, found all over Central Java. But they are free standing in Java while those found in Gunung Kawi are hewn relief in solid rock.
Whilst the exact origin of the candi is not known, it has been shown that the first set of five were created to honor King Anak Wungsu, who ruled Bali from 1050 AD to approximately 1080 AD. One may have been built for him and the other four for his wives, who after his death would have committed suicide ceremonially.
Gunung Kawi is two rows of ancient royal tombs in an area overlooked by terraced ricefields, deep along the banks of the Pakerisan River. The holy Pakerisan River passes through the center of Gunung Kawi and divides the site into two sections with a bridge to connect on either side. Gunung Kawi is believed to be sanctified by the Pakerisan’s holy waters, and the place’s beauty evokes a relaxing, peaceful atmosphere.
Five candi are located on the east side of the river, making up the main group in this complex. There are four candis on the west side across the bridge. The southern end of the remaining candi is often referred to as the’ tenth tomb.’ The tenth tomb is located at the bottom of the stairway and to your right through a small field (about one kilometer).
The legend is intriguing to this amazing place. The mythical giant Kebo Iwo is believed to have carved all the ancient tombs with his fingernails in one night.
There are three temples known as Gunung Kawi in Bali which are Gunung Kawi in Sebatu countryside, Gunung Kawi Temple in Babitra countryside, and Gunung Kawi Temple in Keliki countryside. You can find a few meditation caves behind the small temple, indicating that this is a pre-Hindu place where pilgrims and monks came together to meditate.
Gunung Kawi Temple Location
Gunung Kawi is located near the village of Tampak Siring, about 5 km from the famous temple of Tirta Empul. It is located 35 km from Denpasar town, 50 km from Kuta and 68 km from Nusa Dua town. It is still one way from the temple of Goa Gajah, Gunung Kawi, Pura Pusering Jagat, and Tirta Empul.
The area conserves numerous ancients sites, sculptures and structures of rock cut, in particular along the banks of the Pakerisan river. Gunung Kawi’s site can be reached from the parking area only by foot, passing the river’s elevated slope with over 100 steps down and up the river.
It is just after Pejeng village, a village full of ancient remains of ancient stone sculptures, and even the oldest historical fact about Buddhism can be found around this village as well.
Today, a museum was built before the village of Pejeng, near the temple of Kebo Edan, due to the rich in historical fact. There are some ancient temples in the village of Pejeng such as the Pura Pusering Jagat, the Pura Rejuna Metapa, the Pura Samuan Tiga, the Pura Kebo Edan, the Pura Bedugul Kana, and many smaller temples that preserve the ancient stone sculptures.