Set deep in the Petanu River valley, Goa Gajah—better known as “The Elephant Cave”— houses an ancient (circa 11th-century) Buddhist and Hindu temple that’s one of Bali’s most bewitching tourist attractions. The site is reached by walking down a long set of stone steps, past rectangular pools where worshippers once did ritual ablutions. Ornate stone carvings of lotus flowers and mystical creatures surround the entrance to the cave; most dramatic is the fierce-looking beast whose open mouth serves as the entryway. Inside are statues of Buddhist deities, including the elephant-headed god Ganesha and the goddess Hariti, as well as various fertility symbols.
Tip: Make this an early morning or late afternoon venture if you want to beat the crowds.
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