Pura Luhur Gunung Kawi is located in the area of Tampak Siring. One of the most historical piece of land which still breathes the atmosphere of ancient legends and long lost tales of forgotten Balinese kings who lived in an obscure but important period of Balinese history.
The temples of Gunung Kawi are believed to be constructed in the 11th century (1080 AD) by King Anak Wungsu in honor of his father, the great Balinese ruler Queen Udayana. Contrary to what is often believed, the temples are not tombs, for they have never contained human remains or ashes.
In this respect they are rather considered to be symbolic secular accommodations to house the members of the defied royal family when they are invited down during temple festivals, similar to the rites that are still held today during the temple festivals of ‘modern’ Balinese Hinduism, as shaped by Nirartha in the 16th century.
The temples at Gunung Kawi are divided into three separate sections. Four minor temples can be found at one side of the river, five major ones at the other side and, often overlooked by visitors, a tenth temples a little laid back from these major and minor clusters. There is evidence that the temples of Tampaksiring were probably once protected within two massive rock-hewn cloisters. In shape the temples resemble small buildings surmounted by massive three-tiered roofs bearing nine stylized lingam-yoni fertility symbols. Each temples actually looks like a doorway, carved in relief, but going nowhere. Instead, there is a small chamber beneath the temples, accessed by a sloping shaft from the front, in which a stone plaque (peripih) with nine holes containing symbolic offerings of food and metal objects, representing the necessities of earthly existence, was placed.
On the north shrine (east side) a legible inscription reads: “Haji Lumahing Jalu,” meaning “the king made a temple here.” The inscription, written in the striking quad-rate script that briefly characterized East Javanese Kadiri monuments during the 11th Century. Although few decipherable remnants have survived, this provides the clearest evidence of when Gunung Kawi of Tampak Siring was constructed.
Also there is evidence that provisions have been made in its construction for water to be directed towards the temples, and from there into sluices and spouts. As in Balinese Hinduism it is believed that when water has flowed over a temple, it has become imbued with divine properties through contact with the essence of the resident deity, this accounts for the fact that even today Gunung Kawi of Tampak Siring remains an important source for the holy water that has always been central to Hindu Balinese rites.
However are still surrounded with mystery in respect with their actual, intentional purpose. It is very tempting to assume that at the time of their construction these structures were designed for pure spiritual purposes, as opposed to the Hindu rituals of today which are generally performed and attended for the sake of the ceremonies themselves, and its rich symbolism generally interpreted literally instead of traced back to its true, spiritual meaning.
PURA LUHUR GUNUNG KAWI | VIA WIJAYA