When I arrived in this temple it was around at 4 PM. Visiting this temple called Gunung Kawi temple in the morning or late afternoon is the best way to do it to avoid the heat of tropical sun. Walking 300 steps down to temple location be the river bank is not ideal in midday.
The Odd Haze
As I walked down the stairs, looking at the rice field terraces on my left side, I noticed something odd. It was the haze on the field behind the palm trees. Or was it smoke? Was it fire?
I saw nobody running away in panic. Everything looked normal. All the shops and the vendors along the stairs down were calm. I was sure that it was not fire.
I did take a photo because I thought the haze look was a great addition to the scenery. What do you think?
This was the stairs. I took a photo looking upstais so you get idea how it looks.
The Gate That Carved Out of Giant Rock
After walking downstairs for about 10 minutes, I arrived at the main gate to the temple area. I imagine this was just a huge rock that drilled (I am not sure drilling was a suitable word) to form a path way and a door.
This was built in the year 1040 AD, so you can imagine what tools they used to make that size of path and the opening.
This is the path or tunnel to the main gate. The smoke is visible on the background.
And to give you better view of the path and the gate, I climbed the rock and took another photo from above.
The Sacred Pakerisan River
Walking pass the gate, I arrived at the river bank of Pakerisan River. This 34,50 km long river has many source of water from various villages in the middle Bali. And along the river bank there are many water springs.
The Pakerisan River is an important site of Bali ancient civilization. In the 11 century, there was a kingdom located around this area, in a village called Pejeng. Looking at the fact that Bali was an agricultural society, one can understand the importance of Pakerisan River.
There are several sacred site along this river, namely the Temple of Tirta Empul and this Gunung Kawi that I visited. Indeed, it's a sacred river.
The Pakerisan river and the bridge that connect west temple area, and eastern area.
The sacred river and the shrines carved on the rocky wall in the west area.
A Brief History of Gunung Kawi Temple
The temple was built under the ruling of a king named Anak Wungsu. He dedicated this Temple to honor his father, the previous king, King Udayana. In the east side, there were five shrines carved on the rock wall. These 7 meters tall shrines are dedicated to the King Udayana, Queen Mahendradatta, and the three princes: Anak Wungsu, Airlangga and Marakatta.
The five shrines
The five shrines view from the higher ground in the left. There is a spring directed to water sprouts in front of the shrines.
In the west side of the river, there are also four similar shrines. These are believed to be dedicated to King Udayana's minor queens or concubines.
The four shrines dedicated to King Udayana's minor queens.
The view of west side of the river from the bridge overlooking a cave in the left and the four shrines on the right.
The view of the sacred Pakerisan River from the bridge.
The Temple Inner Yard
The smoke has already engulfed most of the area in the inner yard when I arrived in rear entrance. It was not really thick but it disturbed my breath sometimes.
"The rear entrance."
In the inner yard, there were several shrines, each was an altar to worship deities, and Almighty God. The Balinese Hinduism is a "combination" of local belief and Hinduism originated in India. The local belief is animism and dynamism: believe in spirits and anchestors. So,this is the reasons of many shrines in the temple.
The shrines in the temple were mostly wrapped in yellow and white cloths. The yellow symbolizes perfection and white symbolizes holiness. This happen usually at around temple festival time.
Walking through the main inner yard, I could see the source of the smoke. It was outside the inner temple at southern side.
I met two priests here. I asked them why there was smoke. They laughed. It was the work of youngsters who burnt trashes, but the fire could not start. Insted, there was thick smoke they could not control. They tried to burnt wet leaves and the remain of offering made from coconut leaves.
I went checking myself and I saw a man of early twenties tried hard to stop the smoke. He carried the water in a small container.
Well, it took a long time for them to deal with the smoke.
This ancient temple is a great place to experience or to learn about Balinese culture and religion. It is also a great photography site.