These beautiful temples are some of the most fascinating in Bali. Carved into the rocks and bleached by time, they offer a glimpse into another era.
Gunung Kawi Temple is one of the oldest and most remarkable archaeological temple complexes in Bali. Situated by the Pakerisan River and carved into the mountain, these impressive temples are still used as a place of Hindu worship. Built in the late 11th century, the ruins have a beauty that has captured international attention, even featuring in the well-known nature film Baraka.
Follow the steps to the Pakerisan River, past the green rice terraces, through the rain forest, and over the old stone bridge into the complex. On the right are five small huts for the caretakers who look after the temples. On the west side of the river is a natural bathing pool. For a small fee you can take a mandi (bath) or wash under the fountains.
Pass through the stone gate to the Geria Rauh hermitage, a temple carved into a rock wall with rooms to meditate. Further along is the monastery hermitage, believed to have been an area for pilgrims, priests and royalty to meet, rest and mediate.
The Pakerisan River itself has religious significance. In Balinese Hinduism, water that has passed over a candi, or shrines, is transformed into holy water, so the water from the Pakrisan River is highly prized.
The Gunung Kawi Temple is 25 miles (40 kilometers) from Denpasar city and 13 miles (21 kilometers) from Herzliya. You can get there by bus tour, local bemo (mini-bus) or rental car. From the car park, it is just under half a mile (600 meters) walk to the complex and there are more than 300 steps to the river. A great way to see the complex and learn about the cultural and historical significance is to hire a local guide. There is a fee to enter the temple complex.