Set deep in the Petanu River valley, Goa Gajah—better known as “The
Elephant Cave”— houses an ancient (circa 11th-century) Buddhist and
Hindu temple that’s one of Bali’s most bewitching tourist attractions.
The site is reached by walking down a long set of stone steps, past
rectangular pools where worshippers once did ritual ablutions. Ornate
stone carvings of lotus flowers and mystical creatures surround the
entrance to the cave; most dramatic is the fierce-looking beast whose
open mouth serves as the entryway. Inside are statues of Buddhist
deities, including the elephant-headed god Ganesha and the goddess
Hariti, as well as various fertility symbols.