Spiritual Sanctuaries and Demonic Faces at Goa Gajah
Our second day in Bali, Indonesia consisted of being driven around the island with a driver. He would help us find locations and sights of interest. It helped me make wonderful pictures of monkey’s, which still torture my uncle at night. In the late afternoon he took us to Goa Gajah, which is better known as ‘The Elephant Cave’.
Now those who go to Goa Gajah to actually see a huge and amazing cave, and those who go to Goa Gajah to see elephants, will be disappointed. But nevertheless, Goa Gajah offers something else, a unique adventure across an old Indonesian sanctuary and a nearby – abandoned? – village.
Goa Gajah! The Elephant Caves
Since Goa Gajah is a sanctuary, we were not allowed to show our knees and legs, or something that’s a part of your lower leg? I had no idea, all my friends were supposed to wear sarongs but I wasn’t… Apparently my pants were long enough, which made me feel pretty special; who has the longest trousers? Me! Look mom, no sarong!
The stone water maidens pour water into a shrine which claims to keep you young
Of course, our holy journey started with a holy cleansing. The waters from this part of the sanctuary weren’t dug up until 1954, unlike the original elephant cave, which had been a part of the temple and open much longer. The interesting part is when you actually get to the Elephant Cave. Beautiful carvings show ancient Indonesian architecture and the inside holds many stories!
The inside of the Elephant Cave, a holy spiritual place
Our biggest adventure came afterwards. We descended across the White Tree and made our way into the gardens of Buddha. Here, my first experience with bald coconuts didn’t work out pretty well. Just a small zip of sweet coconut juice across a straw made me wanna vomit. And it’s not that it’s gross, on the contrary, it was just really really warm!
The adventure continued across a hiking trail. Beautiful temples and shrines were found along the way, while sometimes making way for nothing but nature. As a local from a country where nearly all nature is fabricated or placed by human beings, this is extremely special! The calming nature, beautiful flowers and the sound of a flowing river bring a mindset to one self where inspiration becomes as natural as counting to ten.
At the end of our journey we found ourselves in a somewhat old village. It looked abandoned, old and like a temple we just discovered. Could it be that we have gotten lost? Feeling like Indiana Jones our hopes quickly turned when we found the exit. It was just that this village popped up in the middle of nowhere! And it’s not that it’s an abandoned sanctuary in the mid of the lonely jungle; people were at houses, talking, shouting. Children were playing football and a local made a picture of us at an old square. This place looked truly spiritual and yet, people were going around doing their day-to-day business.
Housing in the middle of nowhere!
If you want a unique spiritual experience, you should definitely visit Goa Gajah! It’s like you are surrounded by ancient Gods and demons who have long seemed to have lost their meaning in this realm.