In the north of Ubud lies the village of Tampaksiring. According to the legend, the slope of the mountain on which the village lies was created by a footstep of King Mayadenawa. During the pre-colonial era, Tampaksiring was one of the most important kingdoms of Bali. She owes her name to the legend, “Tampak” which means foot, and “Siring” which means oblique. As you maybe noticed, Bali is the island of gods and known for its many temples. This village houses the old Gunung Kawi temple complex and the magical Tirta Empul temple.
The staircase to the valley consists of more than 300 steps. Prepare for a heavy climb afterwards as you walk down the steps easily. The complex consists of ten Candis carved out of the rock dating back to the 11th century. These sanctuary reliefs carved from a rock wall are one of the most unique archaeological sites, but also are an important sacred place for the Balinese. Legend has it that the mythical giant Kebo Iwo carved out all these ancient temples with his fingernails overnight.
The Candis come into their own on the 8 meter high niches cut from the steep rock face. They take their shape from the free-standing ancient temples of the Candis of East Java, which have the same architectural forms and decorations. Evidence suggests that the Candis were probably previously protected by two massive rock-cut monasteries. Gunung Kawi not only consists of these Candis carved from rocks, but you will also find all kinds of small houses where you can see people praying or busy making handicrafts.
Tirta Empul Temple
The aforementioned King Mayadenawa rejected Hinduism and forbade his subjects to practice religion. According to the legend of Pura Tirta Empul, the gods got angry and did send the god Indra to the king for a duel. Mayadenawa keeps hiding from the troops that god Indra did send to find him. For hiding, he used different locations in Tirta Empul.
This temple is an important place for pilgrims and tourists, and is located around a sacred mountain spring. Titra Empul temple was built around 960 AD. The temple is known for its holy water that comes from a nearby spring. Tirta Empul means the temple of the holy water source. Therefore, this name refers to the source around which the temple was built. There are several purification baths around the temple. In these purification baths, after prayer, the face is washed with the holy spring water. By drinking this water and letting it flow over you, the energy flows through the water, resulting in purification. For energetic individuals, this energetically charged experience is magical. Besides the water ritual, it is possible to walk through the gardens and buildings inside and around the temple, and admire the beautiful flora and fauna here.