For many years, I have returned to a place named Gunung Kawi Temple. It is one of many locations in Bali, known for its picturesque location. Also rich in cultural and historical value. If you have been here one or two times, you may easily recollect the atmosphere in a Temple that has become a tourist attraction. There are markets on the side pathways. Vendors selling their crafts. Stalls encouraging you to sit down and have a cool drink.
In Gunung Kawi, this juxtaposition with the market stalls and the Ancient Temple did not deter me. From my full enjoyment and appreciation which I always experience there. For me, this place is miraculous.
Gunung Kawi, a Little Background
This historical site is located in Banjar Penaka. It is an 11th-century Temple as well as a funerary complex in Tampaksiring, Ubud in Bali. The complex comprises of 10 shrines that are carved into rocky cliff faces. These shrines are thought to be dedicated to King ‘Anak Wungsu‘ of the Udayana Dynasty and his queens.
The first time I came was about 10 years ago. I walked amongst other tourists that were walking down the steep steps toward the valley. I was enchanted. When you reach the bottom of the valley, you see the Temple across the bridge for the first time. It was like discovering a secret place. Ironic, it being a tourist attraction. Nevertheless, it felt that way.
After a long period of not having gone out and about, Kaprus Jaya, Dewa Made and I went to Gunung Kawi Temple before the gates were opened again in Bali. Whilst it was still quiet. Very quiet.
Thinking back on this excursion a few weeks go, I realise what a precious time we had. The whole garden of Gunung Kawi Temple seemed to be a private garden for us. With no one else around, the Temple site, our own private Eden.
The last time I was here was a few years ago. Each time, I feel an admiration for the monumental work here. This is actually an offering. The embodiment of sincerity taking shape in a form like this. Something that takes decades to make. Possibly the artisans who started building this, through the process of making this place, probably already realised that he would not see the completion in his lifetime. There is sincerity, devotion and responsibility here in the creation of a place like this, by the artisans who built it.Kaprus Jaya
History Tells Another Story
Gunung Kawi Temple complex, consists of 10 shrines in the area and functioned as a temple. As well as a means of worship for the royal family of ‘King Anak Wungsu’. It is interesting, although this is a Hindu Temple, there are many niches identified by archaeologists as Buddhist meditation sites.
These niches are carved into the rocky cliff walls. They appear like caves, or little rooms. The fact that the Hindu Temple is side by side with a Buddhist meditation complex indicates a time of religious tolerance. This site of worship and commemoration was built as a particular personal project for the King. His own personal Sanctuary. To have a Buddhist Meditation site built alongside it, indicates an honoured relationship between these two religions during this time.
Perhaps the peace and harmony that was at the foundation of this place when it was built, still resonates through a thousand years to reach us today.
The spirit from the ancient artisans that worked here and carved this Shrine. Today I feel their presence as though their energy still lingers. As I paint the Nature here, the colours flow and are one with this place. I feel inspired here. I think perhaps, they may have been filled with a similar feeling of inspiration and dedication.Kaprus Jaya
This quiet time, allows us to experience our sacred places even more profoundly. It is too common and easy to take things for granted that are familiar. We are so fortunate to live where we live. In such close proximity to living histories and powerful Natural presences. Through familiarity, sometimes we grow accustomed to them. Their wonder, not forgotten but not completely experienced.
On this day, in the quiet, when the airport gates were still closed, our Temples and Ancient sites, resembled perhaps even more closely their memories from a thousand years ago.