Yeh Pulu Temple: Ancient Carvings of the Anonymous Ascetics

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Ancient reliefs adorn Yeh Pulu, a humble but historically significant temple hidden in the dark countryside. Deep in the lonely stream of Gianyar, these ancient stone carvings give us a peek into Bali from centuries ago.

Just east of Ubud is the historically rich village of Bedulu, in the Blahbatuh area of ​​Gianyar. The most famous archaeological site is Goa Gajah, it is also host to other historical sites of interest, including one of Bali’s oldest temples, Pura Samuan Tiga; and nearby is an archeology museum called the Gedong Ark.

Relatively far from the tracks, Yeh Pulu is found in a valley sandwiched between the Petanu and Pakerisan rivers, deep in the rice fields and hidden under an embankment. Its secret location explains why it was only rediscovered in 1925 by the the courtier of Ubud (a district commander serving under the king), who then shared his message with the Dutch artist, WOJ Nieuwenkamp. It was only much later, in 1929, when the area was properly excavated by the Dutch archaeological bureau, that the meaning of Yeh Pulu was revealed.

25-meter long and 2-meter high reliefs, carved deep into the bank walls, with clear images of human activity and daily life. But these carvings were unlike any other style seen in Bali, and so its origin and age have become quite a mystery.

The images that scroll down to the right have those quality in shadow, the shape of the length (x-axis) of the relief. However, they are distinguished: natural and lively, faces and bodies round and proportioned. A regular style in an alleyway would have flat and two-dimensional, supernatural depictions of it. What caused much speculation about the discovery, who carved this and when?

Nine scenes apparently showing the mundane activities of everyday life: a boy saluting, two carrying a wild boar, one from a wild boar, the other from a horse; a woman kneeling, another ‘tuak’ (palm) wine in ceramic vessels, another carrying a garden hoe. The last figure is Ganesha, but with only two arms. Another theory posits a remedy that tells the story of the Hindu epic Krishna.

Decades later, more studies were done, and carvings with temples in central and eastern Java (eg Candi Penataran, East Java), filtering it down to the ‘Old Javanese Period’, and finally to the end of the Majapahit Empire. Yeh Pulu enjoyed this between the 14th and 15th centuries. But why such a distinct style? Research presents carvings made by non-palace engravers, explaining the rarity and life-likeness of the images; so it is believed that the Reruns were the hermits themselves who carved the face of this single rock centuries ago.

Certainly in this sense, as in the last engraving, the rocks are found to be hollowed out into a place of meditation; Mount Kawi. This place is holy, the temple is a holy spring, which is explained by its name: Yeh Pulu, meaning water and a vessel respectively, and the holy spring of the lake is found next to three pillows placed at the end of the temple complex. before it opens beyond the banks.

This is by no means a large temple complex: Yeh Pulu gives visitors a mere 25-meter corridor to visit. However, to see these life-like toreumatas in person – especially in a serene and rural environment – ignites the imagination of what this year might have been like here 600 years. A runner may be there when you visit the temple, offering you blessing water (for a donation), and inviting you to the life of the ascetics and hermits who visited this ancient place.

The locally owned “Yeh Pulu Cafe” near the entrance is a good place for some refreshments while enjoying the views of the surrounding rice fields. Because Yeh Pulu is going to be a quick visit, it’s suggested that you also include other places nearby to make this trip worth it. Entrance fees: IDR 30,000 for international tourists, IDR 20,000 for domestic tourists.

Edward Speirs

Edward Speirs

Edward, or Eddy as he prefers to be called, is the managing editor of NOW! Bali and guests NOW! Bali Podcast. He enjoys photography, rural travel and loves introducing his work to people from all walks of life.

Source: Elaboarated and Quoted From Many Source

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