The beautiful and tranquil Taro is one of popular countryside destinations located in the famous area of Ubud, Gianyar, one-hour drive away from the inner city of Denpasar. Taro used to be merely a traditional Balinese Desa (village) with profound historical legacy. But today, it has completely transformed into a modern attraction for laid-back tourists who crave for tropical countryside beauty, albeit still retaining its spiritual image.
There is a herd of legendary albino cattle in Taro, sanctified by the surrounding communities and Balinese society in general for its spiritual status: the vehicle of Lord Shiva; the bearer of the truth; and the symbol of the motherland. They also serve as witnesses for the Ngasti ceremony, in which the cattle is driven out from the forest and subsequently guided to circumnavigate the whole ceremony area. In this ceremony, the cattle will engage in Mepada (Maideran/Purwa Daksina) procession, where they start dwelling the area from east in a clockwise manner for as much as three times to finally stop again at the same point. After the procession, the cattle is then given offerings and delivered back to the forest.
These white cattle are believed to have inhabited the area prior to the arrival of Rsi Markandya, a Mahayogi (High Priest) from Eastern Java who came to Bali on a spiritual guidance.
The history of Taro began when Rsi Markandya arrived in a dense forest beneath Mount Agung (northeastern Bali) where he tried to open residential and agricultural areas with his 8000-strong followers. However, their efforts were hampered by a deadly disease outbreak, leaving only about a half of his followers survived. Seeing this strange phenomenon, Rsi Markandya then meditated in hope of receiving guidance from The Almighty. He realized that they need to ask for permission first by offering a plowing ceremony of Panca Datu at Besakih Temple.
Afterward, Rsi Markandya and his followers accomplished their targets to build residential areas and agriculture around the mountain. Their expansion then widens to a very fertile region named Sarwa Ada which subsequently became the location of a religious school (Pasraman) named Pasraman Gunung Raung – a bid to satisfy The Almighty.
But somehow, he keeps struggling with plethora of problems and obstacles.
Feeling perplexed, he decided to return to Eastern Java to meditate, asking for more guidance. However, he was tipped that he should return to Bali and perform a meditation at the Pasraman. Assured by the guidance, Rsi Markandya acted accordingly and saw a glowing light came from a tree. He eventually decided to build a temple at the location. The temple was named Pura Gunung Raung and gradually became the center of the Taro village in Ubud as we know it. The name itself is derived from the word “taru” which literally means tree.
It is near this temple that Nigel and Yanie Mason established the Elephant Safari Park. The first development date back to 1996 in pursuit of adding an entirely new dimension to their Bali Adventure Tours service portfolio. The park initially opened with 9 Sumatran Elephants, a subspecies of the Asian Elephant that were rescued directly from their last natural stronghold in Indonesia. However, the Lodge itself was not opened until 2008 after an intense staff training and perfection period.
Now, it is considered as one of the most renowned destinations in Bali and the world for its lush elephant retreat. The Elephant Safari Park Lodge offers a world-exclusive experience to interact, feed, ride, observe, learn, play and stay with 31 (+4 infants) beautiful Sumatran elephants. These are one of the most rare and endangered species of elephants left in the world today.