La Bella Ischia, Isola Verde!
in your yoga retreat
Goa Gajah or Elephant Cave
Goa Gajah ‘Elephant Cave’ is an archaeological site of significant historical value that makes it a special place to visit. Located on the cool western edge of Bedulu Village, six kilometres out of central Ubud.
An 11th century cave used by monks and was named for the statue of Ganesh found inside. A few minutes drive from Goa Gajah is Tampak Siring, a holy spring temple known as Pura Tirta Empul.
Goa Gajah dates back to the 11th century, built as a spiritual place for meditation. The main grounds are down a flight of steps from the roadside and parking area, which is lined with various art and souvenir shops and refreshment kiosks. Upon reaching the base you will come across a large ‘wantilan’ meeting hall and an assortment of large old stone carvings, some restored to their former full glory. The pool, excavated in 1954, features five out of supposedly seven statues depicting Hindu angels holding vases that act as waterspouts.
Various structures reveal Hindu influences dating back to the 10th century, and some relics feature elements of Buddhism dating even earlier to the 8th century. The cave is shallow; inside are three stone idols each wrapped in red, yellow and black cloths. Black soot lines the cave’s walls as result from the current-day incense burning. Several indentations show where meditating priests once sat. The northern side of the complex is dominantly Buddhist while south across the river it’s mostly Shivaite.
At the southern end are beautiful rice fields and small streams that lead to the Petanu River – another natural site entwined in local legends. Goa Gajah was built on a hillside and as two small streams met here forming a campuhan or ‘river junction’, the site was considered sacred and was built for hermetic meditation and prayers.
The Castello Aragonese stands on an islet of trachytic rock linked to the East side of the island of Ischia by a bridge of 220m long. The rocky base is geologically defined as “a dome of stagnation” and is equivalent to a bubble of magna which solidified throughout past eruptions. It is 113 m high under the sea level and stretches on 56.000 square meters.
It’s reachable by trekking along a mule path dug into the rock (by Alfonso I of Aragon in the middle of the XV century) or a modern elevator built at the end of 1970s.
From this main path, there are other smaller ones linking gardens to the fortress. The elevator is 60m under the sea level and is dug into the rock.
The building consists of lands and ruins; original from the XVIII century. The first fortress was built in 474 B.C. by the Greek Hieron I of Syracuse, who came during the war against Tyrrhenian. Other towers were raised up to monitor the movement of enemy ships. At the end of the war, Hieron conquered the Island. It was later occupied by Parthenopeans. In 326 B.C. the Romans took it over and then again Parthenopeans. The looting and the long dominations of the Visigoths, Vandals, Goths, Arabs, Normans, Swabians, Angioini changed the Hieron’s fortress. In 1441 Alfonso of Aragon rebuilt the old Castle, linking the islet to the main island by a bridge and built strong walls and fortifications, where everybody found refuge against the pirate invasions. In the early XVIII century the islet hosted 1892 families, including the Convent of Poor Clares, the Abbey of Brazil from Greece, and the Bishop of Capitolo and Seminario. There were 13 churches for the 7 parishes. In 1809 the British sieged the fortress and drove out the French and almost completely destroyed it. In 1823 the king of Naples fought off the last 30 inhabitants.
Ubud Tour and Sacred Monkey Forest
The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary of Padangtegal is dedicated to educating people about the importance of conserving cultural resources.
The monkeys within the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary of Padangtegal are commonly called long-tailed macaques. Their scientific name is Macaca fascicuiaris. Macaques are found throughout Southeast Asia and many species of macaques live successfully in areas that are heavily utilized by humans like they do in Monkey Forest. Interestingly, within long-tailed macaque societies, females are typically born into and remain with a single troop for life. In contrast, adult males may migrate between troops. Currently, there are approximately 600 Balinese long-tailed macaques that inhabit the Sacred Monkey Forest.
The cultural importance: Jai Hanuman! Monkeys can be the embodiment of both positive and negative forces. The dual nature of monkeys is especially reflected in the Ramayana (the most important epic Indian poem). Within the Ramayana, Sita (the beloved bride of Rama) is abducted by Rawana (an evil king). Rama (an incarnation of Dewa Wisnu) calls upon Sugriwa (king of the monkeys) and Hanuman (Sugriwa’s General) to help him retrieve Sita. However, within the Ramayana, there are also antagonist monkeys like Subali that attempt to assist Rawana. In the end, Hanuman, along with his monkey army, defeats Rawana’s evil forces and helps Rama to retrieve Sita.
The Temple inside Monkey Forest represents a sacred Balinese Hindu site. In trying to understand Balinese Hinduism it is important to keep in mind that Balinese Hinduism is unlike Hinduism practiced in other parts of the world today. Balinese Hinduism combines aspects of Animism, Ancestor Worship, Buddhism, and Hinduism.
Animism and Ancestor Worship
Some of the first evidence of extensive human inhabitation on Bali dates back to approximately 2,500 B.C. The religion of the Bali Aga (original Balinese) centered around both Animism and Ancestor Worship. Ancestor Worship represents the belief that prosperity is associated with a relationship that exists between the living and the dead (prosperity is something that can only be achieved through intense worship and obtainment of blessings from ancestors). Animism represents the belief that inanimate objects and other elements of the natural landscape can possess souls which can help as well as hinder human efforts on Earth.
A Balinese temple is more than just a collection of pagodas and pavilions. The area enclosed by temple walls and the forest area surrounding it is sacred. These temples and the forest are essential for renewing contact with the spiritual world. The activities associated with these areas are essential in maintaining harmony between humans, nature and the cosmos. Not only are ancestral spirits and gods given offerings and prayers, but also the spirits of trees and statues in the Monkey Forest are given offerings and prayers by the Pemangku and local villagers
The Trees of the Forest
The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, in conjunction with Udayana Univeristy in Denpasar have identified 115 separate species of trees.
Some of these trees are considered holy and are used in various Balinese spiritual practices. Examples include the Majegan, which is used exclusively for the building of shrines; or the Berigin, whose leaves are used in cremation ceremonies.
Of special significance is the Pule Bandak, a tree that embodies the spirit of the forest, and is used in the making of powerful masks. These masks are only used inside the temple, and the trees are not killed to make them. An auspicious day is chosen and the Priest asks permission of the tree spirit to cut a small piece of its wood. The spirit thus remains embodied in the mask.
This combination trip includes Monkey Forest where we will feed the monkeys, visit the Temple, feel the vibration of the Trees. It will be a wonderful photo taking opportunity. On that day we ask that you remove your sunglasses or anything that can be taken by a monkey. Wear a closed purse or bag and know that if you carry bananas the monkey’s will find them.
Water Temple Purification Ceremony
Healing, love and transformation.
This experience provides a healing ritual and understanding to the magical mysteries of Balinese spirituality. Water is believed by the Balinese to be one of the key forces of life. For this very unique spiritual experience, we have established a collaboration with a Holy Water Temple located in the outskirts of Ubud, that carries a mystifying and ancient energy.
After putting on your sarong gifted to you by alchemy of yoga, you will be escorted for a guided tour of the beautiful peace and quiet of this Ancient Site prior to the ceremony, where you will learn the history that is held on these sacred grounds.
After your tour of the temple, the Ceremony will be conducted by a Mangku (Balinese Priest). While sitting in meditation the priest will prepare some holy water in a vase with flowers and incense while chanting mantras in ancient Sanskrit. Following the mantras, you will be invited to receive a holy water cleansing as this blessed water is sprinkled over your head.
You will then be guided into the sacred water pools where several Koi fish swim and live. Once you are emerged in the sacred pools, it will be requested that you bow down before each spring, putting your head under the stream of water.
First you will wash the holy water on your face as the symbol of physical purification, then over your fontanel (crown of the head) as the purification of the tirtha. After, you will also consume the water three times as a symbol of spiritual purification. This will create a full sensation of the body receiving a ‘holy bathing’.
Kecak Dance Ubud
Experience the impressive traditional Bali Kecak and fire dance inspired by the epic of Ramayana. Learn about the history and culture of the island through dance performance. Normally music plays a vital role to accompany the dancers movements. But in the Kecak Dance, the music generated is from a combination of sounds by the 50-100 or more men sounding like “cak.” They sit in concentric circles, swaying, standing up, lying prone as the story develops. A person will act as a leader who gives the tone early, someone else acting as a suppressor in charge of high or low tone, someone else acting as a solo singer, and someone else will act as the mastermind behind all of that to deliver the story.
The story is a fragment from the Ramayana, the Hindu epic which finds its expression in many forms, not only in dance, but also in painting and carving. Prince Rama, heir to the throne of the kingdom of Ayodya, and his wife Sita have been banished from the kingdom by King Dasarata as a result of trickery by Rama’s stepmother. The story begins with the arrival of Rama and Sita accompanied by Rama’s brother Laksmana in the forest of Dandaka.
The trio have been observed by the demon Rahwana, King of Alengka, who lusts after the beautiful Sita. Rahwana sends his prime minister Marica to try and isolate Sita so that Rahwana can kidnap her. Marica’s magical powers turn him into a golden deer and he enters the forest and when the Sita sees the golden deer she is so enchanted by it that she asks Rama to capture it for her. Rama chases after the deer leaving his brother Laksamana behind with strict instuction to protec Sita. When Sita thinks she hears a cry for help from Rama she forces Laksamana to go after Rama by accusing him of cowardice and he goes off to help Rama with great reluctance after drawing a magic circle on the ground and telling Sita the she should not under any circumstance step out side the circle.
Sita, left alone in the forest becomes an easy prey to the trickery of Rahwana who has disguised himself has an old priest and begs Sita for some food as he is cold and hungry. Sita falls for his trick, she steps outside the circle to give the old priest some food and rahwana grabs her and takes her to his palace. Once back in his palace in Alengka, Rahwana tries everything he can to seduce Sita without any luck.
In the palace of Alengka, Sita pours out her heart about her cruel fate to Rahwana’s niece Trijata, when Hanoman appears telling her that hi is Rama’s envoy and proving it by showing her Rama’s ring. Sita gives Hanoman a hairpin to show she is still alive and sand him back to Rama with a massage to come to her rescue.
In the meantime Rama and Laksamana accompanied by Tualen are wandering in the forest looking for Sita when Meganada, Rahwana’s son, appeares and engages Rama and Laksamana in Battle. Meganada uses his magic powers and shoots of an arrow which magically turns in to a dragon which overpowers Rama and Laksamana and they are trussed up in ropes.
The bird Garuda, King of all the bird, a good friend of King Dasarata, has observed trouble Rama is in from high up in the sky and comes to the rescue freeing the brothers from the ropes. Rama and Laksamana continue on their way to rescue Sita and are joined by Sugriwa, king of the monkeyes, and his monkey army.
This fragmen of the Ramayana come to an end with the bittle between Sugriwa and his Monkey Army and Meganada and his Demon Army which ends with the defeat of Meganada.
Ischia’s beaches are famous: long stretches of sand between blue sea and the green hills of the interior. As elsewhere in Italy, beaches are generally divided up into stabilimenti, private businesses who charge an admission price for use of their patch of beach. Some facilities may be included in the basic entrance fee; others will cost extra. Services available generally include deckchairs, sun loungers, towels and changing rooms. There is often a bar or restaurant, meaning you can pass your whole day on the beach, should you wish. However, there are also stretches of spiaggia libera, free beach, which is a more familiar set-up for overseas visitors. Here you can bring your own towels and make yourself comfortable at no charge.
There are about 37 km of coastline so you are never very far from a beach. The coastal towns all have local stretches of seafront where you can sunbathe or swim. Ischia’s most renowned beach is the Spiaggia dei Maronti, on the southern shore between Sant’Angelo and Barano. Once, the story goes, it was a favoured landing-spot for pirates who would dig pits in which to bury their loot. As well as good swimming, the 3km-long beach offers the unusual treat of a natural thermal spring at Cava Scura. Open-air pools dug in the rock give visitors the opportunity to bathe in the therapeutic waters.
Another popular beach is Spiaggia Citara, south of Forio, where the much-photographed Giardini Poseidon are the beach-front gardens of a thermal spa, complete with pools and sunbeds. Between Ischia Porto and Ischia Ponte lie two beaches, Spiaggia Mandra and Spiaggia dei Pescatori. Other favourites include the Spiaggia degli Inglesi (‘Beach of the English’), the other side of Ischia Porto
Sorgeto is an islet situated in the municipality of Forio, and home to a truly natural thermal park in the open air. Mineral springs, sauna and therapeutical vapours, are one of Mother Nature’s greatest gifts to the island of Ischia.
Reachable via sea by taxi boat or by going down 200 stairs from the suburb of Panza, it’s a delight to immerse onself into that mix of warm-cool water with the most amazing sunsets you can image. One of the most charming characteristics of Sorgeto is having a bath here at the night, in the warm waters beneath a starry sky. You can relax and spend unforgettable moments!
Parco Castiglione Resort and Spa – Park and Pools
The Thermal Park has 10 swimming pools with temperatures between 30 and 40 degrees, several hydro-massage jets, sauna, turkish bath, 2 Kneipp pools, private sun bathing pier on the sea with dedicated swimming area.
Also available to customers, wardrobe, chairs, sun loungers and parasols as well as several terraces with full exposure to the sun or shade set in a lively and colorful vegetation.
In Italian: pronounced “Monte Epomeo” is the highest mountain on the volcanic island of Ischia, in the Gulf of Naples, Italy. Reaching a height of 789 metres (2,589 ft), it towers above the rest of Ischia. Much of Epomeo is covered in lush greenery, with a few vineyards also occupying its slopes. Approximately 75 metres (246 ft) from the peak the mountain is covered in white lava. A path leads to the summit of the mountain from Fontana, a quiet traditional village.
Thanks to its geo-morphological and climatic peculiarities Ischia provides a unique environment in the Mediterranean Sea, a laboratory in which to appreciate the meaning of biodiversity. From a geological point of view it is a complex mix of several raised and inclined plots, separated by fractures and faults that gave rise to a series of volcanic structures.
One particularly important event in the island’s geological history is represented by the eruption about 55,000 years ago, when a giant magma chamber formed beneath the present-day island of Ischia. Through cracks and crevices in the earth’s crust, the magma was thrown into the atmosphere and the magma chamber was emptied. The cover of the magma chamber collapsed and the basin that was created in the earth’s crust, called “Caldera”, is where today lies the island of Ischia. Since ca. 55,000 years ago, the sea surface was ca. 150-200 m lower than today, this “Conca-Caldera” was dry land. After the increase of the sea level, the island was submerged for several years. This has meant that the original rock, as a result of chemical transformations, has turned into green grass.
New magma flowed in the old magma chamber beneath the present-day island of Ischia, and the cover of the magma chamber began to rise from the sea and bring out the island. This increase has given rise to Mount Epomeo which rises to a maximum height of about 789 m above sea level. The fact that the island emerged from the sea, and from mineralogical characteristics, is also confirmed by the presence of marine clays overlaying the green grass and fossils.
The volcanic activity is currently in a quiet phase, and is characterized by the development of very intense hydrothermal springs and fumaroles. The ascent to Mount Epomeo is definitely an experience not to be missed for those who visit. There are many possible paths to reach it. The proposed route, crossing the island from one side to another, will experience some of the geological history – environmental and anthropological aspect of the island.
At the top is the church of S. Nicola (from which derives the name of the summit) with its hermitage carved into the stone green spaces, where for years stayed the hermit Giuseppe D’Argout, former commander of the garrison of the Aragonese Castle in 1700. A path carved into the stone leads to the summit, carved by wind and edged with yellow lichen. From here you can enjoy a 360 degree view (from which the origin of the name Epomeo: Epopon or Epopos I look, I aim around). In front of the wood is recognizable Falanga with Santa Maria al Monte, Monte Nuovo and Forio below. The Pontine islands, not so far away, form a continuous line with the Lazio coast. By shifting your gaze to the North Coast you’ll see the Phlegrean islands of Procida and Vivara, Vesuvius, and Lattari mountains and the island of Capri.
The ancient village of Ischia Ponte, also called Village of Celsa for the presence of mulberries, is an ancient village of sailors and fishermen, dating back to the 18th century. Since then Ischia Ponte has been considered the richest and most prosperous municipality of the island. For sure we will visit the famous via Roma and Corso Vittoria Colonna and the beautiful Cathedral of Assunta, built in 1301 and remodeled in 1700. The crypt, decorated with frescoes of Giotto’s school, still preserves the remains of the noble families of the island.