The writing of Gua or Gowa or Gua and some Guha become an orthographic problem in writing about the name with part of this. Exactly in English means cave. See from the fact it is not correct if we called it cave because the chamber is human made with full of carving on its front face.
The location of this Guwa is at the area of Pejeng village, around 35 kms east of Denpasar city, around 6 kms east of Ubut town, on the slope of Pekerisan river.
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 of Majapahit kingdom around 1350 AD. In this scripture is mentioned that the king had a hermitage on the slope of a mountain called "Lwa Gajah".Other assumption 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 mythical 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 was totally buried and no indication of the athing place and the cave. The excavation by National Archaeological Service was successful and could disclose a monumental heritage.
It seems that Goa Gajah is a hermitage place for the Buddhist priest or what is later known as Shiva-Buddha Syncretism, since there is remains of Buddhism and Shivaism such as Lingga-Yoni symbol, and the Hariti Fertile Mother. It was also probable that the 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 not known what is the meaning exactly. The writing style was developed during the flourish of Singhasari kingdom in East Java around 1225 AD.
Relation with East Java
Now the problem still could not be solved is the presence of bathing place with water fountain sculptures. The architecture of this bathing place showing the same style and architecture of those bathing place in East Java called " Belahan " near present Malang city which is already been disclosed that it was built by king Erlangga of Mataram kingdom in the 10th century. It was probable that the site of Goa Gajah has been continuing from 9th century until much later time of 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 with one of the princess of East Java which was in fact the Princess Mahendradatta that he married and ruling Bali together. The princess was died earlier and was said to have been rested at Burwan, near present day village of Buruan.
Javanese Tradition in Bali
An other fact that is very important for Balinese since
the 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 called the month of " Wuku " This system of dates replaced previous Balinese calendar of Caka year. So also the rituals is coming every 210 days with various rituals within the span of 210 days such as Kajeng Klion, Buda Wage, Tumpek, and so on, while before this it seemed that the temple ritual was every 365 days following the Caka calendar. Since then Balinese conduct the ritual based on Wuku month such as some of the biggest are Galungan, Kuningan, Saraswati and various Tumpek days. It is strongly believed that since this time the most important Holiday of Balinese was started such as Galungan and Kuningan holiday.
On the site of Guwa Gajah is now still a bulk number of stones, the ruins of probably a big construction which is not yetidentified weather it is belong to the bathing place or an independent construction and where, considering the area is only small and sloping down to the river, or is probably above on the plain land where now is shopping arcade. It needs a serious research to disclose the site which might give strong light to the completion of Bali hsitory between 9th to 12th century.
Gunung Kawi Rock Carving
Guwa Gajah Stone Carving
Kerta Gosha Tribunal Pavilion
Le Mayeur Museum
Yeh Pulu Rock Panel
Among various tour packages and tour options in Bali there are some tours which can be said always on the publications and interest a large part of travellers to Bali. Kintamani mountain tour sits at the first number as the most popular sightseeing tour, second is Taman Ayun and Tanah Lot tour, third is Uluwatu temple tour.