The journey we have been making in East Java has, without any planning, been one in which we have dug further and further into Java’s past history. The last kingdom of the classical period was the Majapahit (13th-15th c.), based around modern-day Trowulan, which is where we started our journey. The sites at Tulungagung and Blitar are also mainly from this period.
By the time we had got to Malang though we were mainly seeing monuments from the earlier Singhosari period (13th c.). I have already mentioned Candi Jago, one of the finest we saw on this trip, and yesterday we also visited Candi Singhosari itself and Candi Sumberawan, a fine, if small, stūpa from the same time.
Today we made our way from Malang to the airport, taking in Candi Jawi, Candi Gunug Gangsir, and Candi Belahan, a remote location from which the last king of the previous dynasty, King Airlangga, divided his kingdom amongst his two sons, one of whom founded a kingdom at Kediri.
His grandson eventually succeeded to the throne, and was known as Kāmeśvara, and his queen as Kāmaratiḥ. Their story is legendary throughout S.E. Asia, and celebrated in the Panji Cycle of stories, told in poetry, theatre and song.
One of the notable things about this trip is how much the local people, now Muslim, are taught to respect their classical Buddhist and Hindu roots, and at nearly every monument we visited we saw school children being taught about their history. And indeed when the story of the Majapahit Kingdom (Nagarakretagama) was rediscovered, it acted as a spur for the independence movement which eventually gave rise to modern-day Indonesia.
Another thing is how well-kept the monuments are generally, in manicured gardens, with various signs of care and wardens on hand. I would have preferred more by way of written information, which was often lacking, and I hope the Government, or whoever is responsible, will see to that in the future.
That is the end of the Java part of the present trip, and I have to thank my kappiya, Tasfan Santacitta from Ehipassiko for his help in getting round and explaining the background to these sites. We had a very good learning experience and are hopeful to continue it next year in northern Sumatera and Bali.
With Schoolchildren at Candi Jawi
Candi Jawi with Reconstructed Middle Section
Candi Gunug Gangsir
Tasfan at Candi Belahan