Most of Bali’s ancient remains and artifacts are to be found in the narrow region bounded by two holy rivers,
The Pekrisan and the Petanu. Crossing the Petanu River immediately to the east of Peliatan on the road to Bedulu, the mysterious Goa Gajah (elephant cave) is just visible on the lower side of the road, opposite a row of souvenir stands. The cave’s gaping mouth is fantastically carved with leaves, rocks, animals, waves and demons, and when it was discovered in 1923 these carvings were apparently mistaken for an elephant, hence the cave’s name. Adjacent baths were discovered and excaveted in 1954, and in fact the site was probably a hermitage used by early Hindu Buddhist holy men, as the cave contains three joined lingga (Shivaitic fertility symbols). Two Buddha statues, as well have been found only a short distance away. All are believed to date from about the 8th or 9th century. After a visit to the cave, the Puri Suling restaurant next door is highly recommended for refreshments or a meal.
Just beyond Goa Gajah, the cross road village of Bedulu was formerly the centre of the powerful and cultured Pejeng dynasty. On the southern side Bedulu, a dirt track leads to the rarely frequented ruins of Yeh Pulu – another small hermiage dating from the 14th century. A unique frieze, two metres (6.5 feet) high and 25 metres (81 feet) long, is said to have been etched by the thumbnail of a giant. At the end is a small niche and a spring.
Two km (1.25 miles) north of Bedulu on the main road is the Archaeological Museum, which houses a collection of neolithic axe heads, sarcophagi, weapons, bronze jewellry and Chinese ceramics.
And in 1981, villagers digging in this area discovered the tip of a stone ziggurat which may answer many of the questions concerning the origins and culture of the Pejeng dynasty.
Several temples just to the north of the museum contain objects of interest. The Pura Kebo Edan (crazed water buffalo) temple houses 3.6 metre (12 foot) statue. The Pura Puseing Jagat (cosmic navel) temple contains a remarkable stone vessel carved with the late of the churning of the ocean by gods and demons to obtain amrta, the elixir of the life.
And the Pura Penataran Sasih (lunar governance) temple contains Indonesia’s most important bronze age antiquity, the 2,000 year old Moon Of Pejeng drum. Shaped like an hourglass, beautifully etched and over three metres (10 feet) long, it is the largest drum in the world to be cast as a single piece. According to Balinese legend it fell from the sky, but the discovery of an ancient, similarly shapes stone mould in Bali proves that sophisticated bronze casting techniques were known here from any early time.
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