Posts Tagged With: East Java

The Mystical and Historic East Java

(Touring the Motherland Series)

As part of the Majapahit Empire in the 13th – 16th century, Surabaya and its surrounding area in East Java province has much history to tell. About 35 miles south of Surabaya, nearby Trawas, Mount Penanggungan stands keeping hundreds of historical monuments left by the kingdom. East Javanese in Majapahit era embraced both Hindu-Buddha spirituality and considered the mountain to be sacred. Hence the places of worship built all over Penanggungan. So when my guy and I heard about an archaeological trail being developed on the mountain by University of Surabaya, we immediately signed up for a short day-hike.

The distinct profile of Penanggungan, with its cone shape, rounded summit as the center, and the small hills that looked like they sat symmetrically circling the mountain’s shoulders, made a majestic backdrop. By mid morning, we joined a small group to hike through the woods up to the mountain. The rocky and grassy trail turned muddy and slippery after the rain. It made ascending and descending on the short distance route we chose to be quite challenging. I think all five of us must have slipped at least once (and many times for me!). 

Mount Penanggungan's summit

Mount Penanggungan’s summit

Mount Penanggungan

Going up the mountain

The two ancient ruins we saw, Selo Kelir and Telong Blandong, looked like gigantic terraces that made up one big temple for spiritual ceremonies. The consultant explained that most artifacts at the ancient sites all over the mountain have been stolen. Archaeological theft is such an unfortunate reality and a real challenge in history preservation effort.

Overlooking a stretch of lush green valley, the view from the top of Telong Blandong was nothing short of spectacular. The fog set in as we started to descend slowly. We passed a spring on the way back. The smell of incense burning along the weir added a mystical feel to the experience.

I’ve always been fascinated by Penanggungan ever since I was little. Little did I know that behind its beauty lies mystical and rich cultural history of East Java. Penanggungan’s charm didn’t disappear with the fall of the Majapahit empire. It continues to allure people to admire its magnificence closely on its wild slopes or from afar. Either way is a treat for the soul.

Carved stones that probably used to make up part of the temple.

Carved stones that probably used to make up part of the temple.

Carved stonesPart of the monument Selo Kelir

Some part of the trail has been developed

Some part of the trail has been developed

Locals look for grass in the mountain to sell to cattle owners.

Locals look for grass in the mountain to sell to cattle owners.

A spring

A spring

Water from the spring passing through a weir

Water from the spring passing through a weir

Offerings and incense burning along the weir

Offerings and incense burning along the weir

Other historic places we visited while in Trawas:

Jolotundo Temple: a water spring reservoir dated back to 977 CE. It was said to be King Airlangga's place to meditate. It is also said  that the water from the spring behind the temple to be very clean and has high minerals. Bathing pools are available on the two sides. One side for women and another side for men.

Jolotundo Temple: a water spring reservoir dated back to 977 CE. It was said to be King Airlangga’s place to meditate. It is also said that the water from the spring behind the temple to be very clean and has high minerals. Bathing pools are available on the two sides. One side for women and another side for men.

A giant Buddha statue carved in one stone. Dated back to the Majapahit era (13th-16th century).

Reco Lanang: A giant Buddha statue carved in one stone. Dated back to the Majapahit era (13th-16th century).

From the side

Thanks for reading! Hoped you enjoyed it.

More articles on the archeological trail and East Java’s history from various sources:

Exploring the Ancestor Site (Part 1)

Exploring the Ancestor Site (Part 2)

Memory of Majapahit Kingdom 

A special thanks to Pak Kus and Mas Ronald at UTC

Photos by The Traveling Chili Pepper and friends

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Categories: Indonesia Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Touring the Motherland Series: Surabaya

Like most big cities, Surabaya feels packed, busy, and sounds a bit loud. My visit last December changed my point of view about my hometown though. After experiencing the congested Jogjakarta on one of the busiest national holiday weekends—chock full of tourists, jam-packed, and overcrowded… you get the idea—my guy and I were incredibly thankful for and to be back in Surabaya. We let go a sigh of relief when the plane landed at Juanda. Surabaya had never felt so much bigger, roomier, better organized, cleaner, and greener. Isn’t travelling great? I gain a lot from it, including: perspective.

What else can I tell you about my hometown? Ah, yes, Surabaya is a city with good eats. This is the place to be for delicious East Javanese cuisine like sate klopo, sate Madura, soto ayam, and soto Madura. And of course, my must-haves: the thick, spicy, and fragrant petis-based (shrimp paste) dishes: rujak, lontong balap, tahu campur, kupang lontong, sate kerang, and oh so many other. Adjectives I’d use to describe East Javanese cuisine would be the same words I’d use to depict its people: bold and gutsy! The flavors “kick” the taste bud, as a friend puts it.

Founded in 1293, Surabaya, is an old and historic city with a youthful look and modern feel. In a certain section, the city displays its colonial-style houses left by the Dutch. The Arab quarter and Chinatown remain vibrant, reminding everyone of the attractive qualities of this port and trade city to foreign traders since way back when. Other parts of Surabaya are decorated with luxurious shopping malls with brands such as Jimmy Choo as one of its tenants. Competing shopping malls attract Surabayans the same way Chicago’s Lakefront Trail/park draws enthusiastic joggers, bicyclists, and sunbathers in summer months. Local coffee shops multiply rapidly all over you’d think that the whole city must be highly addicted to coffee. City pulse is strong and growth is apparent. Surabaya might be 720 years old but it looks like she’s far from slowing down. 

 

Next blog entry: the mystical and cultural charm of East Java

Bambu Runcing

Bambu Runcing Monument: was built in memory of the people of Surabaya who fought against the Dutch and British imperialism.

Always crowded

The consistent traffic jam

Hotel Majapahit

Hotel Majapahit (since 1911)

Related readings from various sources: 

Eating Out in Indonesia

Travel to Surabaya

Official Site of the City Government

Sparkling Surabaya

Memory of Majapahit

Surabaya’s Chinatown

Ampel: The Holy Heart of Surabaya

Photos properties of The Traveling Chili Pepper

Categories: Indonesia Travel | Tags: , , , , | 10 Comments

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