Garuda Wisnu Kencana, or GWK for short, is the name of a cultural park on Bali’s hilly southern coast famous for the ongoing construction of a gigantic statue of Vishnu riding on the back of a ‘garuda’ (a supernatural eagle-like being). The completed part of the statue is of the upper part of Vishnu’s body, the head of the ‘garuda’ and Vishnu’s hands.
The cultural park has become one of the favourite places in Bali for art and cultural performances, exhibitions, and conferences. GWK, once completed at 145 metres, will be one of the world’s tallest statues and erected on the top of the hill, with a magnificent panorama of Bali.
Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park is set in 250 hectares of land in Ungasan, south of Bali, and is dedicated to embrace as well as preserve the art, cultural, culinary, and spiritual aspects of the island. The Garuda is a Hindu mythical bird, Wisnu is the Indonesian for Vishnu and kencana means a carriage. Bali’s future landmark of a 145-metre tall copper-steel-brass statue is planned to be placed here; it is of Vishnu riding on the back of his ‘garuda’ with 64-metre long wings.
Nyoman Nuarta, a Balinese sculptor, started the project in 1997 and it has instantly become one of Bali’s points of interests even though it is currently only around 25% complete with the existing upper part of Vishnu body, garuda’s head, and Vishnu’s hands. Eventually, the Garuda Wisnu Kencana statue will be able to be seen within a radius of 20km from Kuta, Sanur, and Nusa Dua.
GWK Cultural Park is about 260 metres above sea level, resulting in must-see spectacular views overlooking the island and the ocean. Facilities here include an amphitheatre, an exhibition gallery, open-air venues, two restaurants, a souvenir shop, an art market, a massage centre, ATV and Segway rentals, as well as adventurous activities.