In 2018, one of Bali’s largest and most impressive landmarks was completed. Garuda WisnuKencana – or just GWK as Indonesians refer to it – is a 121 metre high, copper-brass statue depicting the Hindu God Wisnu riding the god-bird Garuda.
It is eye catching to say the least, as it can be seen by those flying over south Bali, from Jimbaran beach and even when driving along the Bali Mandara Highway. The statue is found in the GWK Cultural Park in Ungasan, a huge 60-hectare venue that attracts visitors from all over the world. The whole park is designed as a cultural learning and entertainment centre and is a popular destination for families.
For those wanting to visit, entrance tickets are available online or on the spot. A little insider’s tip: there’s usually a short queue for the walk-in tickets compared to the online ticket counter! GWK measures entry price based on height for children, those under 100cm are free of charge, whilst children between 100-130cm are charged a Kids Entry fee. General admissions tickets start at Rp.110,000 per person.
The fun begins as soon as you get out of the car. GWP Loop, a red shuttle bus, designed to mimic a Victorian era tram, takes visitors to the Park Entrance. Once inside, you can make your way up to the main attraction, the Garuda Wisnu Kencana statue -the third tallest statue in the world in fact! For those not a fan of walking, bicycles are available for those looking to explore on two wheels and a buggy is provided as well. Either way, the towering, white limestone cliffs, fashioned into perfect cubes by the GWK artist Nyoman Nuarta, make for an interesting journey up.
The whole area is filled with picturesque corners that make a great background for a family photo, although the kids may not find this particularly exciting. What they will find exciting though is riding in an elevator inside the GWK statue, up to the 23rd floor! The elevator’s first stop is the gallery on the 9th floor, the history of the 28 years process of this massive statue is being displayed here. Up on the 23rd you’ll be greeted by a 360-degree view of the area, located on the shoulder of Lord Krisna himself! A more thrilling experience, you can look down through the reinforced glass floor and admire the structures below that support the statue.
Other fun experiences for children can be found at the Lotus Pond, a large open area where children can run around freely, but better yet is taking ride on the electric scooters or perhaps on a Segway. From the Lotus Pond you’ll find a great spot for a family photo with the GWK statue in the background.
Of course, being a cultural park, GWK offers a colourful glimpse of Balinese culture and traditions. At the Amphitheater you’ll find daily displays of Balinese dances, including the Barong Keris dance, Garuda Wisnu ballet, Joged Bumbung, Nusantara dance and of course the classic Kecak!
For the young ones, GWK showcases a very special animated movie at their Garuda Cinema. The movie, Garuda Cilik, tells the story of Sang Garuda and his adventures to get amerta (the God’s drink of immortality) to save his mother. It is a story adapted from actual Hindu mythology. The movie plays from 11am to 6pm. Kids will also love a stop at Garuda Cinema with the animation movie Garuda Cilik Adventure on screen daily from 11 am and the latest show is at 6 pm.
Inside the GWK Cultural Park you’ll find two restaurants, including Beranda all day dining, but more popular is Jendela Bali. Meaning ‘window’, Jendela offers panoramic views down to the south coast of Bali.