The cave Goa Gajah dates back to the 11th century and was discovered in 1922. The entrance to the cave is a relief of dangerous creatures and demons with wide open, threatening mouth. They thought it suggested an elephants mouth. Hence the name Elephant Cave. Others claim that the gaping mouth is the entrance to the Hindu god of the earth Bhoma, while others say that the mouth is part of the child-eating witch Rangda in Balinese mythology. This place is already mentioned in the Javanese poem Desawarnana, which was written in 1365.
There were never any elephants in Bali (until tourist attractions changed that); ancient Goa Gajah probably takes its name from the nearby Sungai Petanu, which at one time was known as Elephant River, or perhaps because the face over the cave entrance might resemble an elephant.