Steeped in mystery, this extraordinary 11th-century monument—just northeast of Ubud—is a true don’t-miss. The parking lot is crammed with hawkers, but don’t despair; a set of stone steps leads you down into an Edenic valley of sunlit waterfalls and palm-studded rice terraces. Here, the rushing Pakerisan River divides the towering Gunung Kawi temple complex, where rows of ancient royal tombs (called candies) are cut into stone lining the riverbanks. Some claim that each candi is a memorial to a member of ancient Balinese royalty (along with a few of their concubines); others believe that the whole mass of tombs was carved out of the rock face in one hard-working moonlit night by the mighty fingernails of Kebo Iwa, a Balinese giant possessing supernatural powers.
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