Transportation: Short journey from Ubud town centre, get a taxi or rent a motorbike
Costs: Entrance fee: 15,000 IDR , Motorbike: 50,000 IDR
Suggested Time: Anytime of the day is good, I’s say you can walk around for an hour or two at most.
Nearby Attractions: you will be near central Ubud so head to the Art Market after
The Goa Gajah – Elephant cave is located about 6km outside of Ubud, and is an easy drive from the centre. The Elephant cave isn’t the most impressive temple in Bali but it is definitely worth a visit and you’ll only want to spend an hour or two exploring the temple and the pretty natural gardens that surround it.
Built in the 11th century as a Hindu shrine the cave temple itself is fairly iconic due to the opening being the mouth of a gigantic creature. Various theories surround what this creature is, some think it symbolizes an elephant hence the name, others believe it is the Hindu god Brahma, or the Balinese witch Rangda who eats children! Check it out for yourself, and see which theory you believe to be true!
You’ll arrive to a large carpark and head to the entrance to purchase your ticket for 15,000 IDR, you will also be given a sarong to cover your knees, as is usual in Balinese temples. A short walk down the stairs and you’ll immediately see ruins to the left of you and a sacred pool to the right. The pool wasn’t excavated until 1954 and although no one bathes in it today it was once used as a cleansing pool. There are two pools that house 5 of supposedly 7 statues depicting Hindu angels, holding pots which spout small jets of water into the pools beneath them.
Just past the pools is the impressive cave opening, it’s a mix of eeriness and impressiveness with intricate carvings that surround the giant mouth cave opening. The cave itself is small, the walls covered with thick black smoke from years of burning incense, and inside there are three stone idles wrapped in cloth as is fairly common in Balinese temples.
Once you’ve explored the cave and sacred pools you can head off to the right, descending a set of stairs to the natural gardens where two small streams meet. It’s a peaceful area to walk around and there are a couple of smaller shrines and an ancient tree which is gargantuan in size and probably dates back to a similar age of the temple.
Well worth a visit for an hour or two, you don’t need to dedicate a whole day to this but as a stop off point on your way to exploring other parts of Ubud it is well worth a visit and as the entrance fee is about $1 it’s not going to break the bank to see a temple almost 1000 years old!