Pura Gunung Kawi or Gunung Kawi temple is one of Bali's most unique archaeological sites. The temple complex is easily located, only a few hundred meters east from the Jalan Raya Tampaksiring main route. It has a collection of ancient shrine reliefs carved on a rock cliff. The site overlooks the Pakerisan River, which also flows by the Tirta Empul Temple a kilometer up north. Balinese history has shown that Hinduism and Buddhism, both religions have coexisted there in harmony. Gunung Kawi is an 11th-century temple in Tampaksiring northeast of Ubud in Bali, Indonesia.
The monuments there are thought to be dedicated to King Anak Wungsu of the Udayana dynasty and his favorite queens. According to one tale, on the east side, there are five temples that are dedicated to King Udayana, his queen Mahendradatta and their sons Airlanga, Anak Wungsu, and Marakata. The temples on the west side are dedicated to the king's minor queens or concubines. Bali's Pejeng region is famous for its rich archaeological sites and Gunung Kawi Temple is a popular destination on itineraries through the central uplands of the Gianyar regency. The temple is beautifully decorated during its ‘Piodalan' temple anniversary every year following the Purnama Katiga (third full moon) on the Balinese calendar. It lets you have a more festive and exotic setting for photographs. This year it will be on the 14th of September.
Across the Pakerisan river, there is a temple courtyard featuring old Hindu shrines in a more contemporary architectural style which is open for the pilgrims especially during its ‘Piodalan' temple anniversaries. Further, towards the river, lush paddy terraces and gorgeously green valley takes you back in time away from modernity. There we find a similarly named temple, Gunung Kawi Sebatu. As we proceed through a stone archway, there are small pillars each holding an earthen vase filled with holy water, which is available to sprinkle onto yourself before further entering. Inside, we see the main site with ten seven-meter-high shrines carved into the rocky hillside. There are four on the west side and another five on the eastern side of the river and one across the valley on the south. There is a saying that these are the memorials of the deified Balinese King Udayana, his family and concubines, which leads Gunung Kawi temple to be widely considered as the tomb site of the Warmadewa Dynasty.
Like all other temples in Bali, proper attire comprising a sarong cloth with a sash around the waist is required here also. The sash and sarong are available for rent with the ticket purchase at a booth. Women during their periods are not permitted to enter into the Gunung Kawi Temple complex. No food or drink vendors are at the temple grounds so you should be prepared if you are going to stay there for a longer period as you might need food and drinks while climbing up and down the temple complex. The visiting hours are from 7 am to 5 pm. The best time duration is 2 to 3 hours to explore the whole site.