Apart from its art and culture, the island of Bali is also rich with mystical remains and ancient temples. Many of these sites indicate early traces of civilization and have been preserved for research and as objects of tourism. One site that is worth seeing is Bali’s largest and perhaps oldest Hindu temple monument known as Gunung Kawi.
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Gunung Kawi was built in the 11th century and was only rediscovered during the 1920’s. Throughout the ensuing years the site has undergone several renovations to conserve the overall architectural elements that are a tribute to the island’s artistic heritage. Gunung Kawi consists of two groupings of temples with the first made up of five shrines located close to the river. Here visitors can see an ancient inscription that dates back to when the monument was initially erected.
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Meanwhile on the western riverbank, the second section is composed of four temples that have large nooks formed in the base where it is thought that worshippers once sat in early times to meditate. Along this row of temples there are also graves marking the burial sites of a Balinese king and several of his high ranking officers. As legend has it, the entire site was built as a dedication to the royal family of that era. Gunung Kawi was allegedly carved out of a mound of stone during a single night by the powerful military leader Kebo Iwa who used only his fingernails.
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The temple is located in the vicinity of Tampaksiring in the regency of Gianyar that well known for its cool climate and fertile landscape. This area gives visitors a refreshing insight into the raw beauty of rural Bali. Gunung Kawi temple complex is an aesthetic site that has been painstakingly created to blend harmoniously with the surrounding natural environment. There is a restful ambience that makes it the perfect location for Hindu’s to pray, practice yoga and meditate. It is believed that followers are drawn to the temple as there are specific magical powers that can assist devotees to achieve levels of intense concentration and a balanced state of mind.
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In recent years Gunung Kawi has become one of Bali’s most interesting destinations of cultural tourism. Although visitors have to physically exert themselves to reach the temple with a lengthy descent down a series of stone steps, the photo opportunities and feeling of enlightenment is certainly worth the effort. A token fee is charged for entrance into the temple compound and visitors are asked to comply with the Balinese code of temple etiquette by wearing a sarong and sash.
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Photos are taken from members of www.flickr.com