Elephant Cave (Goa Gajah)

Elephant Cave | Bali Temples Located at Gianyar Regency

The name Goa Gajah ( English = Elephant Cave ) was probably derived from a name mentioned in a scripture called Negara Kertagama written during the reign of His Majesty King Hayam Wuruk or Majapahit kingdom. In this scripture is mentioned that the king had hermitage on the slope of a mountaing called "Goa Gajah". Other assumptions come from the shape of the cave which entrance is decorated with carving to look like monster, and from a distance look like elephant head. Another said that the name is come after a Ganesha wooden statue which is put in the cave. Ganesha is a mythological son of Shiva, with human body and elephant head. First excavation was conducted in 1950 based on the surface findings and the scriptures. Before it was excavated the area is totally buried and no indication of bathing place and the cave. The excavation by National Archaeological Service was successful and could disclose a monumental heritage.

It same that Goa Gajah is a hermitage place for the Buddhist priest or what is later known as Shiva-Buddha syncretism, since there is remain of Buddhism and Shivaism such as Lingga-Yoni symbols, and the Hariti Fertile Mother. It was also probable that oldest Buddhism remains is here, as a Buddhist statue just 25 meters north of the cave was found bearing the same style with those found in Borobudur. On the wall of the cave was written Sanskrit word with a type of old writing called "Kadiri Quadrate" mentioning "Sahivansa". It is known what is the meaning exactly. The writing style was developed during the flourish of Singhasari kingdom in East Java around 13th century.
Now the problem still could not be solved is the presence of bathing place with sculpture water fountain. The architecture of this bathing place showing the same style and architecture as those bathing place in East Java called "Belahan". While this bathing place has already been disclosed that is was built by king Erlangga of Mataram kingdom I the 10th century. It was probable that the site of the Goa Gajah has been continuing from 9th century until much later time 0f 13th century of Majapahit kingdom.

One important information from the bathing place in East Java is on it's wall is written "Udayana Gempeng" which means Udayana is dying of love. while the figure Udayana is known as one of the famous king in Bali during 11th century. Historian supposed that the king was falling in love eith one of the princesses of East Java which was in fact the princesses Mahendradatta that he married and rulling Bali together. The princesses was day earlier and said to have been rested at Burwan. An other fact which is very important for Balinese since marriage of above couple is that, all ancient Balinese language was changed into old Javanese Language, the introduction of Hindu-Javanese Calendar which is consist of 7 days a month, and 210 days a year. It is strongly believed that since this time the most important holiday of Balinese was started such as Galungan and Kuningan holiday.

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