Friday 2nd September 2016
Between Two Rivers - Pejeng's Ancient Sites

Hidden un between stands of verdant jungle, the clea waters of the Pejeng and Pakerisan streams gurgle their way down from the slopes of Mt. Batur, over rocks and convoluted water courses past parts of Bali's ancient history. Theses two rivers form a holy rectangular area that us home to many monuments that list lost and almost forgotten.

once this holy area was a live with monks and seers. reshis or holy men cam from India, drwan by a sining light, rather like the three wise men drawn to Bathlehem. they established temples and shrines in remote but beautiful energy spots. Tombs and meditation hermitages were carved our of solid rock, providing refuge and peace. Now many lay languishing and almost forgotten and diffucult to access. While some, like the Elephant Cave of Goa Gajah, and the imposing Hindu shrines of Gunung Kawi are firmly places on the tourist trail, other languish forgotten visited only by the intrepid, and local mystics. Scatterd alont the banks of the pristine Pakerisan River, these archeological treasures still exude a strong and mystic energy. Many of there earlier shrineds are Buddhist as Buddhism arrived in Indonesia well before the advent of Hinduism.

Even the Goa Gajah (elephant cave) only became known to Westerners in 1923. At that time it was buried beneath mud and volcanic ash rather like the ancient Buddhist shrine of Borobudur in Java. It is thought to date from the 11th century, like many of the shrines along the Pakerisan.

Here at Goa Gajah the Buddhist and Hindu areas are separate. There were stone Buddha statues lying strewn, amongs the long grasses. Steps lead down to the main temple while further below are the Buddhist remnants. The small meditation cave that lies behind the georgously carved facade of an elephant, probably Ganesha, is decorated with niches, which no doubt held Buddha and Shivaite statues and icons. This whole complex, like many of the others, resonates with the sound of running water, a theme often repeated with Bali's culture. Further below in a verdant ravine a huge toppled Buddha Statue, a holy soring and more shrines.

This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, yet it seems, barely publicised. In the citation for World Heritage eight sites in this area are listed, the most important being Pura Tirta Empul- Bali's most reverd holy srping-Goa Gajah Cave and Peguliangan Temple. The "Temple of the Giants", Pura Pengukur - ukuran, by cintrast is little known and little visited, but it is one of the most instriguing sites.

The little known Gua Garba, is a truly wonderful place that inspire all who are lucky enough to visit. Only the faced and the meditation caves remain, while a much newer temple rises behind it. But lost here in the jungle, it was a place of meditation and the strong energy is still there, centuries later. Built around the 12th century AD during the reign of King Jayapangus, based on inscriptions, it is dominated by a huge stone staircase leading up to the square stone entrance which could have been built for a giant. Huge boulders are placed to make the steps, a challenging walk for one of normal size.

A little further north the better known Tirta Empul complex is well visited. As most Balinese Temples, it is laid out in three mandalas or concentric circles. While the inner mandala represents heaven, the middle circle represents the world of human beings, and the outer circle, the environment. It is a different concept to western thinking, which makes it even more interesting for visitors. It is very popular and Balinese holy days as throngs of visitor come to pray and pay homage to their gods.

Also, along the Pakerisan River, hidden down a deep stone carved staircase, is the magnificient Gunung Kawi Temple. Two rows of royals tombs, hewn from sollid rock stand as monument to some long forgotten ancient ruler. The river flows though the centre of the complex and once again reiterates, the theme of holy water.

Visiting there temple sire us a two edged sword. One one hand, visitor bring much needed income to the guardians of these holy areas, but at the same time, it could bring less holy energies to the scared places. So, please if you visit them, bring sarongs and a lot of contemplative demeanour!


Source : Ubud Life Magazine