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Goa Gajah

Goa Gajah, Gianyar

The 'elephant cave' harbors no elephants but a great number of stalls, selling and flogging cheap items to tourists. This cave was excavated in the 11th century, and its entrance is a monstrous head with gaping mouth and hands that appear to be pushing the entrance apart. It was believed to have been built as a temple but the sleeping niches and Buddhist ruins just outside the cave suggest otherwise.

Within the cave at the end of the T-shaped passage is a four-armed statue of Ganesha, the elephant-headed deity. At the opposite end sits a set of three lingga, or phallic symbol of Lord Shiva. To the side of the cave's entrance is a 1,000-year-old statue of Hariti, a Buddhist demoness cum goddess. She used to devour children but reformed to become a devout Buddhist and protector of children. Excavations have uncovered a bathing place with six statues of nymphs holding waterspouts.


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