Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park – A day trip

Garuda Wisnu Kencana {GWK} Cultural Park in Badung Regency Bali is home to the newly completed Garuda Wisnu Kencana iconic 21 storey tall monument depicting the Hindu deity Vishnu {Wisnu in bahasa Indonesia} riding the legendary Garuda. The GWK monument is the tallest statue in Indonesia, the world’s tallest statue of a Hindu God, and if you include it’s massive base, it’s 121 metres in total height, making it the 4th tallest statue in the world.

And if all of that doesn’t impress you then the knowledge that this iconic monument has taken 28 years in the making, definitely should impress. So, lets go back in time for a moment to learn about and appreciate the history and the 28 years in the making of the GWK monument.

Back in 1990, the Indonesian artist and sculptor, Nyoman Nuarta, came up with the design for a truly ambitious project: the construction of a gigantic statue of the Hindu deity Vishnu riding his eagle-like mount, Garuda, to be built in Southern Bali. He quickly gained some influential backers and by 1993 he also had the then President of Indonesia, General Suharto, on board.

Opposition by the local Balinese was ignored and construction of the statue began in 1997. Although due to financial crises and other setbacks this resulted in years-long periods of limbo. It wasn’t until September 2018 that the finished statue was finally inaugurated by the current President of Indonesia, Jokowi, after 28 years from conception to completion and at a total cost of around $100 million.

The amazing fact is that the statue was crafted at Siluet Nyoman Nuarta {SNN} main facility in Bandung in West Java, but due to its sheer size it made it impossible to transport it to Bali as a single unit. Therefore it was separated into 754 modules and transported on flatbeds to the workshop. There the modules were cut into 1,500 smaller pieces to accommodate the crane’s maximum load. The gigantic statue weighs more then 3,000 tons.

So, quite the accomplishment to finally have this statue completed and open to the public.

GWK Cultural Park is about 260 metres above sea level, providing the most spectacular coastline views of the south coast of the island. Aside from the main iconic statue of GWK, as mentioned above, other facilities include; an amphitheatre for hourly cultural dance performances, the Garuda Cinema showing a short animated movie, open air venues, restaurants, the Kencana Souvenir Shop and Kencana Photo Studio, an art market, a massage centre and Segway rentals. So, I’d like to take you along on my day trip to explore the GWK Cultural Park.

I wasn’t sure what to expect at the GWK Cultural Park but it was definitely on my list of places to visit on my recent trip to Indonesia. So one day with perfect blue skies and sunshine we booked a driver and car, and off we went to the very new GWK Cultural Park.

The entrance is quite the sight with manicured lawns and massive statues of various animals and winding driveways. From the carpark you can get a shuttle bus to the main entrance – Plaza Bhagawan, where you can buy your entrance tickets.

After purchasing your entrance ticket, head out and turn right and walk to the Commercial Strip; past the art market, warung and cafes.

First we stopped at the Tirta Amertha area and then wandered and found ourselves in the Street Theatre area and were entertained by the “Barong” performance. The street performances were a surprising treat.

We entered the ticket gate and as it was almost 11am we jumped in the lift and headed straight to the Garuda Cinema to watch the 35 minute animated movie: The Adventure of Garuda Cilik. And although the film started late due to technical issues {or was it just jam karet?}, it was worth the wait. A short animated movie in bahasa Indonesia with English subtitles, telling the story of a young Garuda seeking Tirta Amertha to save his mother from slavery through an adventurous journey. It was thoroughly enjoyed by my three year old, who miraculously sat still for the entire movie {and that’s saying something!} – he loved it!

After the movie, we stopped to listen to the ‘Gender Performance’, which was lovely. We then headed up to Wisnu Plaza to view the spectacular statue of Wisnu. And not only was Wisnu spectacular but also the view of the south coast of Bali – so pretty! I think this was actually my favourite part of the whole of the GWK Cultural Park; that view and the mere size of the statue let alone the craftsmanship is amazing.

We walked down the steps to Plaza Garuda to view the massive Garuda statue.

It was then down the many stairs to the Lotus Pond and Festival Park , we decided to come back here and have a look around after we’d seen the grand GWK monument.

On the walk to the infamous statue of the park, we passed a food truck area, which was really cute and a great set-up, however the food trucks seemed to have shade but the tables and seats were missing umbrellas. In the heat of the day it would have been lovely to stop in the shade for a cold drink but with no shade this was not an option for us. We kept on walking.

Onwards and walking up the hill and we were finally rewarded with the view of the Garuda Wisnu Kencana monument up on the hill in front of us. It was quite the spectacular sight. We wandered inside and looked around.

We wandered back down to the Lotus Pond walking between the limestone cliffs where we found the most awesome view of the GWK monument between the cliffs. It was quite the view.

We were lucky enough to also see the Ogoh-ogoh exhibition, as Nyepi had recently occurred.

Hanuman

We stopped to take in the Peace of Memorial statue.

We then headed out of the park and back to the Street Theatre area and had a cold drink and a rest before heading to see a live cultural dance performance at the Amphitheater. There are hourly dance performances every day starting at 10am until 6.30pm. Daily dance performances include; Balinese dance, Barong Keris dance, Garuda Wisnu Ballet – Balinese ballet {Sendratari}, Nusantara dance and Kecak Garuda Wisnu dance. We saw the ‘Nusantara Dance‘ which included various traditional dances from across Indonesia and was really entertaining.

We decided to call it a day after that but not without a look inside the Kencana Souvenir Shop before leaving. They had a special on with some of their t.shirts where you received a free comic book with a t.shirt purchase. So, of course, t.shirts were purchased and we got ourselves a free comic book too.

For a pdf copy and to download the comic book; ‘Legenda Garuda Wisnu Kencana Lahirnya Sang Garuda’ – from the GWK website, click here.

It was a huge day with lots of walking in the sun so my biggest tip would be to go early morning or late afternoon, and avoid the midday sun where possible as there really isn’t a lot of shade. There are evening performances of the kecak dance at 18:30 every day and you could also catch the Okokan Parade at 4:30 or 17:00 and the Bumbung dance at 17:30. So, there’s a lot of live performances held in the late afternoon, which would be really cool to go and see a few performances. There are lights set up all around the park, which I think would create a great atmosphere in the evening too. I actually think a trip in the late afternoon – evening would be really cool {literally!}.

GWK Cultural Park is opened from 8:00 – 21:00 daily.

For more information, head to the GWK website.

I hope you’ve enjoyed following along on my day trip to GWK Cultural Park in Bali, I’ll definitely be back again, I’d love to see the park when it is totally completed. I hope I have inspired you to also visit the park; by yourself, with your family or with students on a student in-country study tour. I believe the GWK Cultural Park is a great place for all to enjoy!

Have you been to the GWK Cultural Park?

Did you enjoy it? Would you go again?

Have you been in the evening? Did you love it?

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