Nestled among the rice paddies of the flood valley of Tampaksiring, the Temple of Gunung Kawi is a wondrous archeological jewel sculpted in the rock, dedicated to the water god Dewi Danu, right on the holy Pakerisan River. An ancient burial complex comprised of ten ancient sanctuaries (candi) carved into the niches of a rock wall. Legend states that the candis were built in the XI Century by King Anak Wungsu in honour of his father, the Balinese King Udayana, and of the Warmadewa Dynasty. The five Eastern sanctuaries are dedicated to King Udayana, his wife and their three children Anak Wungsu, Airlangga and Marakata, while the four Western ones are dedicated to the concubines of Anak Wungsu. The grounds wind about footbridges, rice paddies, small cascades and streams, surrounded by thick vegetation and verdant valleys. Ascending the almost-three-hundred steps, there is the entrance, under a stone arch where terracotta vases are placed containing holy water which must be used before entering the complex. The sanctuaries are small constructions with three-level roofs, similar to doors with bas reliefs, with a small room in the lower section which holds a stone for the votive offering and stone caves where Buddhist monks would meditate. Every year, for its anniversary, after the Purnama Katiga (the third full moon on the Balinese calendar), the complex is adorned magnificently for the celebration.
Traditional shadow play, guided by a lively puppeteer, introduces the public to local folklore.