Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Kepuh Tree at Elephant Cave

Exploring Bali

This always happens.  I check out a popular tourist site only to become enamored by something other than the main event. Yeah, yeah, the entrance to the Elephant Cave (or Goa Gajah as the locals call it) was macabre and therefore, interesting.  I mean who wouldn't love to walk through the mouth of an elephant-like creature with floppy ears, big teeth and bulging eyes?  But the grotto itself was small and overrun by tourists,  It was a get-in and get-out excursion that left me muttering to myself, Uh?  Was that it?

But, oh my, that tree?  That massive tree with its sprawling limbs, lording over the entire complex.  I've never seen such a tree,  What was it?

A Kepuh, that's what.  And, oh boy, does it have a story to tell!
Of course, I love the Hindu stories surrounding the millions . . . billions . . . trillions (?). . . of gods and goddesses.  I can't begin to keep them all straight, but this tall, stately, solitary tree is sacred to Durga, known as the Goddess of Death or conversely, the Mother of the Universe.  Being as life and death are intertwined in Hinduism, it makes perfect sense.  Sort of.

At any rate, looking up into its branches, I can see how one's imagination conjures up images of demons, skulls and human bones.  Durga has many representations but the most familiar is the woman with many arms.  She is protecting her domain.  She is the trunk of this tree.  Her arms are its branches.  She watches over the universe--both the living and the dead.

She is spectacular!

And actually, the grounds around Goa Gajah are lovely.  Please allow a couple of hours to walk through the the courtyard, the pavilions and the gardens.  There are flowers and waterfalls and a gorgeous lotus pond that create a beautiful montage of Bali's Best.

  Durga included.

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