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Kebo Iwa: The Strong Buffalo in the Legend of Tampak Siring, Bali

Imagine a sacred spring, gushing with life-giving water, carved out by the powerful hooves of a giant buffalo. This is the captivating story of Kebo Iwa, a legend deeply rooted in Balinese culture, and the foundation of the iconic water temple of Tampak Siring.

Located in the heart of Bali, Tampak Siring is more than just a stunning natural site. It’s a place where ancient tales intertwine with breathtaking beauty, creating a truly captivating experience. Today, we will delve into the captivating story of Kebo Iwa, unraveling its significance and its profound connection to the sacred spring and the temple of Tampak Siring.

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The Tale of Kebo Iwa

The legend of Kebo Iwa, the “Strong Buffalo,” is a testament to the enduring power of myth and folklore. The story takes place in the heart of Bali, at the site of Tampak Siring, where a sacred spring flows from the earth.

According to Balinese belief, Kebo Iwa was either a giant buffalo or a divine being transformed into a buffalo. He was tasked by the gods with a crucial mission: to create a sacred spring for the people of Bali. This spring was believed to be blessed with life-giving water, capable of purifying and enriching the land.

Kebo Iwa’s task was not an easy one. He tirelessly dug the earth, his powerful hooves churning the soil, creating a deep and vast pool. The spring gushed forth, overflowing with clear, crystal water. Kebo Iwa had successfully completed his divine task, creating a sacred site that would become a focal point for Balinese spirituality.

But the legend goes further. As a reward for his dedication, the gods transformed Kebo Iwa into a stone statue, eternally guarding the sacred spring he had created. The statue, still standing today at Tampak Siring, is a powerful symbol of the story, and a reminder of the enduring power of Kebo Iwa’s legacy.

The Significance of Kebo Iwa

The legend of Kebo Iwa is more than just a captivating story. It’s a reflection of Balinese values and beliefs, highlighting the importance of strength, resilience, and the profound connection between humans and the natural world.

The buffalo, in Balinese culture, represents strength, perseverance, and the ability to overcome obstacles. Kebo Iwa’s dedication to creating the sacred spring embodies these ideals, emphasizing the importance of serving a higher purpose and contributing to the well-being of the community.

The legend also reinforces the sacredness of Tampak Siring, a site believed to be infused with divine energy. The spring is seen as a source of spiritual purity, and the presence of Kebo Iwa’s statue adds to its significance, reminding visitors of the divine origins of the water and the temple.

Exploring Tampak Siring

Tampak Siring is a breathtaking testament to Balinese architectural ingenuity and spiritual devotion. The water temple, built around the sacred spring, is a stunning example of traditional Balinese architecture.

The temple is adorned with intricate carvings, statues, and traditional Balinese motifs, all reflecting the deep spiritual beliefs and artistic mastery of the Balinese people. The central water pavilion, perched over the sacred spring, is a sight to behold, symbolizing the connection between the earthly realm and the divine.

At the heart of the temple complex stands the stone statue of Kebo Iwa, eternally guarding the spring he created. The statue is a powerful symbol of the legend, captivating visitors with its sheer size and presence.

Besides the temple and Kebo Iwa’s statue, Tampak Siring offers other attractions. The Royal Bath, a secluded pool built by the Balinese royalty, is a place of tranquility and natural beauty. The surrounding landscape is just as captivating, with lush green rice paddies, cascading waterfalls, and the majestic Mount Batur rising in the distance.

Visiting Tampak Siring

Tampak Siring is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking a glimpse into the heart of Balinese culture. The journey itself is an adventure, offering scenic views and a chance to experience the beauty of the Balinese countryside.

To reach Tampak Siring, you can take a taxi, hire a driver, or rent a scooter. If you’re adventurous, you can even take a public bus from Denpasar. The best time to visit is during the dry season, from April to October, when the weather is sunny and the skies are clear.

Once you arrive, spend time exploring the temple complex, marveling at the architecture, and paying your respects at the sacred spring. Take a moment to reflect on the legend of Kebo Iwa, imagining the buffalo’s powerful hooves churning the earth, creating the sacred spring that continues to inspire and nurture generations of Balinese people.

FAQ Section

  • Is Tampak Siring a popular tourist destination?

Yes, Tampak Siring is a popular tourist destination, especially among those interested in Balinese culture and history.

  • Can I swim in the holy spring?

Swimming in the holy spring is not allowed. The spring is considered sacred, and visitors are expected to treat it with respect.

  • What is the best way to experience the legend of Kebo Iwa?

The best way to experience the legend of Kebo Iwa is to visit the temple, admire the statue, and learn about the story from local guides or through historical resources.

  • Are there any other legends associated with Tampak Siring?

Yes, Tampak Siring is also connected to other legends, including the story of the royal bath and the myth of the giant serpent that guarded the spring.


The legend of Kebo Iwa is a timeless tale, deeply woven into the fabric of Balinese culture. It is a story that transcends generations, reminding us of the power of strength, resilience, and the enduring connection between humans and the natural world.

Visiting Tampak Siring is more than just exploring a beautiful temple and a sacred spring. It’s an opportunity to step into the heart of a legend, to feel the presence of Kebo Iwa, and to understand the profound meaning of this captivating tale. The story of the strong buffalo remains alive, a testament to the enduring power of myth and folklore.