For most people who visit Bali Yeh Pulu remains a well hidden secret. This may not be a grand attraction, but the site is one of Bali’s oldest and contain some of the most mysterious and important sculptures from it’s time, Yeh Pulu is therefore of great importance to the Balinese.

Bali, Gianyar, Yeh Pulu. The relief tells stories about daily life on Bali about 1000 years ago. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)
Bali, Gianyar, Yeh Pulu. The relief tells stories about daily life on Bali about 1000 years ago. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Like the nearby Goa Gajah this was probably an hermitage, not a temple, probably from the 13th century.

Bali, Gianyar, Yeh Pulu. The relief is 25 meter long and 2 meter high. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)
Bali, Gianyar, Yeh Pulu. The relief is 25 meter long and 2 meter high. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Yeh is the Balinese name for water, which is an important substance in Balinese culture and religion. Pulu is the name of a stone water container. Yeh Pulu is a 25 meter long and 2 meter high relief with figures that mainly describes daily life on Bali at that time.

The relief was for a long period buried under volcanic ash and vegetation, but luckily the sculptures were intact when excavated in 1925. Except the sculpture of Ganesh with the elephant head there are no directly religious motives here, even if some scientists argues that the relief symbolizes certain Hindu legends. Opposite the relief is a sacred pool with fish and a small temple.

Bali, Gianyar, Yeh Pulu. A Pemangku, a holy old woman who watches over and maintains the site. Behind her the statue of Ganesh with the elephant head. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)
Bali, Gianyar, Yeh Pulu. A Pemangku, a holy old woman who watches over and maintains the site. Behind her the statue of Ganesh with the elephant head. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

On the site you will be met by an old, holy woman called “pemangku”. Her job is to clean and maintain the relief and the statue of Ganesh, and to function as a guide. For a small donation she dispenses some holy water on your head, which will bring you good luck, and also explains what the different figures depicts.

The site can be difficult to find, if you drive from Goa Gajah towards the Bedulu village you will see a small, insignificant sign after a few hundred meters with the text “Villa Yeh Pulu” and “Relief Yeh Pulu” to the right. Drive down this road, then left and then right again. You will pass a small village that is also called Yeh Pulu and finally reach the stair leading down to the relief. The stair is 300 meters long, following the steep terrain.

Bali, Gianyar, Yeh Pulu. A sacred pool and a small, newer temple. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)
Bali, Gianyar, Yeh Pulu. A sacred pool and a small, newer temple. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

A pleasant alternative is to walk from Goa Gajah through the rice fields (see Bedulu). This is a scenic walk, but it can be hard to find the correct path, so it is advised to rent a local guide from Goa Gajah.

If you like to take a rest after the visit here you can relax in Made’s Cafe at the top of the stairs and enjoy the beautiful scenery. There are no annoying hawkers here.

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Bjørn Grøtting

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Photographer based in Norway. See a collection of my best photos in the portfolio. Licensing of images is done through Photoshelter or alamy.
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