Tucked away on the edge of verdant paddy fields of Bedulu village near Ubud, Yeh Pulu is a relief carved stone cliff face dating from the 14th or 15th century.
The panel is divided into five scenes, totalling 26 metres long by three metres high, but it’s uncertain if the image is religious (possibly a Krishna story) or just depicts everyday life. The almost life-sized carvings are crude, yet dynamic and the style is very different from other reliefs in Bali or Java.
The images appear to convey a story reading left to right and include depictions of a water carrier, a female figure hiding in a doorway and a man bearing a hoe or axe on his shoulder flanked by a seated pedanda (high priest), and a seated female, with a crude rough hewn Ganesh statue standing in front, dividing the panel.
A horseback hunting scene seems to result in the capture of five pigs (count the snouts) in the following image, perhaps babi guling was as popular in the past as it is today. At the end of the relief is another, more recognisable Ganesh. Beyond the relief carving, two oblong alcoves are sculptured deeper into the rock face, possible meditation caves.
In front of the alcoves a walled mossy spring bubbles holy water (all springs in Bali are holy), giving cause to require a sarong and sash to be worn in the area. Every time we have visited, an elderly woman has been there to sprinkle holy water, place a couple of offerings and ask for a donation.
A pretty five minute walk along a paved path from the carpark passes a spring with water pouring from the mouth of a small stone figure. Next to this, a bathing pavilion is divided into male and female sections. If there is no one about, have a look inside, and the female bathing area (on the left) has a seemingly ancient figure carved into the stone wall of the embankment.
Much less visited than nearby Goa Gajah, you’ll probably find yourself alone at Yeh Pulu, adding to the serene bucolic atmosphere. It’s a quick trip, the return walk and a squiz at the carvings will take no more than 15 minutes, but we think it’s worthwhile if you are in the area.
Yeh Pulu is six kilometres east of Ubud and about one-and-a-half kilometres from Goa Gajah. There’s a trekking path from Goa Gajah, although you’ll probably need a guide. Yeh Pulu Cafe (T: (0812) 366 0278; https://www.yehpulu2.com) is at the top of the path and offers pretty rice field views, but it was closed on our visit. Clean toilets are near the cafe.
By Sally Arnold.
Last updated on 16th February, 2017.
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