During our Bali trip, we went to Gunung Kawi in Tampak Siring. Because Gunung Kawi is a temple, we were expecting — well — a temple haha. I’ve seen pictures of Gunung Kawi, but I didn’t think the surrounding structures would be so huge! The majestic shrines are eight meters high. There are 10 of them all in all: five in the east facing five in the west connected by a short bridge over the Pakerisan River. The tenth shrine is in the south-west. They are among Bali’s oldest and largest ancient monuments.
It takes over 270 steps to get to Gunung Kawi, but the long walk is worth it. Along the way, you will see rice terraces, monuments, temples, offerings, streams, and fountains.
There is no exact history regarding Gunung Kawi’s 10 shrines (i.e. candi in local terms). Some say each shrine is dedicated to a member of the 11th-century Balinese royal family. According to the lore, the five monuments on the eastern bank are in memorial of King Udayana, Queen Mahendradatta, and their sons Airlangga, Anak Wungsu, and Marakata; the four monuments on the western bank stand for Anak Wungsu’s chief concubines. The tenth shrine is dedicated to a royal minister. Anak Wungsu ruled Bali and Airlangga, who ruled Eastern Java, is one of the characters in the Barong and Keris Dance.
Others say that the awe-inspiring monuments were carved out of the cliff faces in one night by the legendary Kebo Iwa.
Map & Details
Location: Banjar Penaka, Tampak Siring, Manukaya, Gianyar, Bali, IDN
Opening hours: 7:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
- Adult – 15.000 IDR
- Child – 7.500 IDR
Parking fee: 2.000 IDR
Visitors have to wear a sarong with belt before entering the complex. There are stalls along the road to Gunung Kawi, so if you didn’t bring one, you can buy one there. Make sure to haggle as the sellers charge too much. Our guide says to pay no more than 100.000 IDR, around ₱350.00, for a sarong.
They also sell woodwork and other knickknacks. If you aren’t going to buy anything, just walk and don’t make eye contact. The merchants are very, very, very aggressive. They will grab you, follow you around, saying, “What you want? What you want? I have cheap. Come, come. Just look.” or something similar.
Remember to dress respectfully if you are thinking about visiting any temple or holy place in Bali. Temple visitors are required to wear a sarong that covers the lower body with a sash tied around the waist. Women on their period are prohibited entry to any temple or sacred site.