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The andesit walls of this bathing place were built around a source of crystal clear water, still flowing since 1415 AD. The builders added some endearing reliefs just above the water level for the edification of the bathers.
(1) The deceived hunter.
A hunter was on his way home with his catch, a turtle. A deer - which is known to befriend turtles - came to the turtle's rescue by attracting the attention of the hunter to itself. The hunter put down his catch and went after the deer. The latter however was too fast for him and disappeared in the wood. When the hunter returned to collect the turtle, it had already hid itself in the bushes.
(2) The conceited turtles.
Two turtles found themselves in a drying river. A heron bird volunteered to help them by carrying them away on a stick, either turtle biting fast one end of the stick. He had warned them not to talk during the journey. However, when they flew over a forest a group of foxes started making fun of them. The turtles wanting to rebuke them opened their mouth and fell. They became a good meal of the foxes.
(3) The bull and the crocodile.
A crocodile was caught under a falling tree, fortunately there was a little depression in the ground so that he was not crushed to death. He asked a passing bull for help. The bull was of a helpful nature and succeed in lifting the tree.
The crocodile being a sea-dwelling one, asked the bull to accompany him to the sea. But when they had arrived there the crocodile bit the bull in its hump. A fierce battle ensued, but the bull held its own although it was not accustomed to the sea. Then a deer passed by and asked what they were fighting about. The deer feigned not to understand, and to explain what had happened, the three returned to the tree where the (stupid) crocodile lay down under it. Of course the bull and the deer left him there to die.
Address: See tip Candi Penataran I
Updated Mar 15, 2011
Many of the displays at the museum refer to the Siwaist branch of Hindu religion, which precedes the Majapahit era. The entrance of a Siwaist temple always faces west, and furthermore a Siwaist temple is recognizable by the placing of the statues (see main photograph).
Mahakala, left (north) of the stairs, one of two statues guarding them. Mahakala is a manifestation of Siwa being angry.
Nandiswara, the other guard on the right (south) of the stairs. Nandiswara too is a manifestation of Siwa.
Siwa, within the temple.
The most important and most popular deity of Siwaist religion. He is the god of destruction and transitoriness in nature; no life without death.
Agastya, at the north wall. Agastya is the manifestation of Siwa as Great Teacher. According to Hindu mythology there once was a pandita named Agastya who taught Siwaist religion in the south of India.
Dewi Durga Mahesa Suramardhini, at the south wall.
Dewi Durga is a manifestation of Siwa's spouse, Parwati. She is often represented standing on Mahisasura, the king of giants in the shape of a bull, whom she defeated with the help of the other gods.
Ganesha, at the back or east side of the temple. He is the god of learning and wisdom, also of success. There are various accounts on how he got his head, the essence of which is that he lost it for some reason. Siwa revived him after replacing his head by the first available, which happened to be the head of a sleeping elephant.
Updated Mar 15, 2011
After seeing the Penataran temple complex it is well worth to also visit the nearby museum. Or perhaps you should go there first in view of the opening hours (below). We were too late on our first attempt.
The museum has a very fine collection of statues, lovingly arranged and provided with explanatory texts by the curator (unfortunately in Indonesian only). She does not receive too many foreign guests and was very happy to supplement the texts with her knowledge of Javanese history and religion.
In a second room are on display artefacts like a cart and a wooden sugar cane crusher operated by animal power.
Our photographs show some of the statues.
Sun god statue
The Sun god was a symbol of the rising and setting sun. He was adored in the hope of enhancing fertility, especially in agricultural areas. It was beleived that he could cure all physical and psychical illness. He is depicted as riding on seven red horses.
A lingga and/or yoni are still found within many Hindu temples on Java, but often one of the two or both are missing.
A lingga symbolises the masculinity of god Siwa, a yoni the femininity of his wife Parwati Sakti. The meeting of the two, lingga yoni is a symbol of fertility and the perpetuity of life.
In ancient Java, a pandita was a learned person who dedicated his life to the gods. For this purpose they usually chose to live on a mountain side or in a forest.
Bima is one of the five pandawa characters in the Mahabarata epos. The adoration of Bima became popular by the end of the Majapahit era (1294-1478 AD). Bima was thought to have magical powers to promote fertility and the perfection of life.
Sanctified king statue
In ancient Java (about the 13th through 15th centuries AD) a king was looked upon as a god living on earth. After his demise, he was sanctified and represented by a statue of one of the gods. As such he was expected to protect his offspring (successors).
Address: Jalan Penataran no. 11, Penataran village, Nglegok district.
Directions: The muesum is just a few paces north from the parking of the Penataran temple complex.
Opening hours: Daily from 8 am to 2 pm, except Fridays from 8 am to 11 am and Mondays closed.
Admission: Free, but sign the guestbook and leave a donation.
Updated Mar 15, 2011
The walls of the pendopo teras carry pictures of at least three different stories.
There is the tale of Sang Setyawan in 18 panels. Sang Setiawan and his wife, the princess Suwistri, became one with Sang Hyang Wenang through good deeds, meditation and study.
Then there is the story of the beautiful Sri Tanjung, wife of Sidapaksa, who was wanted by king Sulakrama. He sent Sidapaksa to be killed by the gods (the old story of David and Batsheba, see also Jayaprana), but these discovered just in time that Sidapaksa was a descendent of the pandawa gods.
A little fable we photographed in full. Bubuksah and Gagang Aking were two brothers who strove to improve themselves in different ways. Bubuksah meditated without sleeping but ate his fill so that he became fat. Whereas Gagang Aking fasted and became thin. Then a god Kalawija came to test them in the guise of a tiger. The tiger told Gagang Aking that he was hungry and asked to eat him, but Gagang Aking refused saying that he was too thin to serve as food. When the tiger asked the same of Bubuksah, the latter gave himself up willingly, considering he - Bubuksah - had eaten animals. Then Kalawija revealed himself and declared Bubuksah had passed the test.
Yet both Gagang Aking and Bubuksah went to heaven, Bubuksah carried on the back of the tiger, but Gagang Aking trailing by his tail!
Address and directions: See tip Candi Penataran I
Updated Jan 7, 2011
Having done Seplawan cave and Pancur cave we thought we knew what to expect. But no, this was the biggest underground river yet. About 1.5 km long with several rapids, wide vaults, deep pools. No wonder that before leaving the guide asks whether one can swim.
Fortunately we brought swim-wear and beach shoes. Walking barefoot on the rock bottom hurts, and shoes that fit loosely one may loose in sucking mud. Also we had a waterproof camera; don't risk your ordinary camera in this cave!
Admittedly we walked the cave in April, the end of the rainy season; there may be less water during the dry season. As the water comes from the surface, it is not quite clean; the river carries driftwood and coconuts. One enters where the river surfaces and one walks upstream. We asked where the river goes underground, but that spot is not easily accessable. Certainly not by following the cave farther upstream, because then one has to crawl and dive. So the tour ends when progress is not possible and one returns the same way. That farthest room, 1.5 km from the entrance, is home to bats. The guide also caught several shrimps, see our travelogue Embultuk Cave.
Cost: The village sets the rate for one guide with a stormking lamp at Rp 25,000 (April 2010).
Address: Tumpakkepuh village, Bakung district, Blitar regency.
Embultuk cave lies in the same direction as Tambakrejo beach, 33 km from Blitar.
Leave Blitar going south along Jalan Cemara, direction Tulungagung. At 5 km from Hotel Tugu turn left across a bridge (the main road turns right to Tulungagung). At about 9.5 km turn left. Pass through Sumberjo village. At a crossing at 15.5 km straight on, at the next one (20.6 km) turn right, Goa Embultuk is indicated. At 25.5 km again turn right, follow the signs.
Updated Nov 20, 2010
Before or after a visit to Soekarno's grave, every Indonesian should also make a pilgrimage to his parental home. But few actually do, exept for the Haul memorial ceremony on his birthday, June 6th.
The house is still owned by the family, were were shown around by a cousin who lives in the service buildings at the back. The main house is full of pictures and antique furniture.
There is no entrance fee, but an obligatory posing for a picture in front of Soekarno's portrait at Rp 20,000. It is printed on the spot, and once that has been done you are free to make your own pictures.
Written May 23, 2010
Address: Jalan Sultan Agung no. 69, Blitar
What remains of the main temple or Candi Induk is a base consisting ot three terraces. The bottom one is 30 m square, the next ones are consecutively smaller, so that it is possible to walk around them. The temple body should stand on top of the third terrace, but not enough parts of it have been recovered. A partial reconstruction can be seen at left of the base (when one faces the stairs).
The walls of the first terrace carry scenes from the Ramayana episode Hanoman Duto (Hanoman as emissary). Hanoman has been charged with delivering a ring of Rama to the latters wife Sita, who is held captive in the palace of the enemy Rahwana. Having arrived there Hanoman hides in a tree, but is seen and caught. He is tortured by his enemies who set his tail on fire, but Hanoman succeeds in wresting himself free and with his blazing tail torches the whole palace. A war ensues for freeing Sita.
This is perhaps the most famous part of the Ramayana epos. At the Prambanan ballet it is enacted with spectacular fire effects. For the rendering on the reliefs at Penataran, see our travelogues Hanoman Duto I and II.
The Kresnayana story on the second terrace tells about Rukmini who is engaged to he king of a neighbouring kingdom, but wants to get out of the wedding in favour of Kresna. The two prevail in the ensuing battle and live happily in Dwarawati.
The third terrace features winged lions an winged dragons. The lions are squatting with upstretched arms, the dragons faces protrude from the wall.
Updated May 11, 2010
Address: See tip Candi Penataran I
There are several good sandy beaches south of Blitar, some popular, some only recently accessable. The best known is at Tambakrejo village.
When you arrive you face a wide bay lined by villagers' dwellings at some 50 m distance from the waterline. Turning east the road ends after 500 m at the mouth of a small river. About 300 m to the west is a larger river mouth, recently extended with stretch dams, where fishing boats moor in the river. In between one can swim undisturbed - at least on the weekday we were there. The beach is a bit steep, the warning sign must be intended for those who cannot swim. But we asked the villagers, if you can swim, the surf poses no danger.
On the other side of the river lies another km of sandy beach, but to reach it one has to swim across, at least in the rainy season when we were there.
Entrance fee: Rp 1000 per person, Rp 2000 for a car.
Address: Tambakrejo villiage, Wonotirto district, Blitar regency.
Directions: Leave Blitar town due south via Jalan Cemara (direction Tulungagung). At 5 km turn left across the bridge instead of right to Tulungagung. Follow the signs to Tambakrejo beach. At 32 km is the ticket gate and one km beyond it you arrive.
Updated May 4, 2010
Standing somewhat aside from the main temple is the oldest artefact of the site: a prasasti or engraved stone. It was found here and has been put upright again.
The text in ancient Javanese is an edict by king Srengga of Kediri. It affirms that the status of perdikan (exemption of taxes) was granted to Sira Paduka Batara Palah in the year 1119 Saka (197 AD). Palah is thought to be the name of Penataran at the time, and the exemption of taxes may have been given in exchange for taking care of the sacred site.
Compare the prasasti Plumpungan of Salatiga, which also has the granting of perdikan as subject. The term 'perdikan' is related to 'merdeka', the famous cry for freedom.
Written Mar 19, 2010
Candi Penataran is a former Hindu temple complex and the largest in East-Java, situated south of Kelud volcano at 450 m elevation. On the 1.3 ha grounds the remains of a score large and small structures have been found. It is fortunate that many of them are dated. Thereby it is known that site was already in use at the time of the Kediri kingdom (1135-1222 AD) and buildings have been added throughout the reign of the Majapahit kings (1294-1429 AD).
Like of the Trowulan ruins, it was Raffles who first ordered an investigation of the Penataran site, he visited it accompanied by a Dr Horsfield in 1815. A partial restauration was effected in 1917 and 1918.
The main buildings to see are:
(1) The bale agung, considered to have been a meeting place. It lies on the left of the entrance and only a base with floor remains, 1.5 m high. The pillars and roof likely were made of wood.
(2) The pendopo teras, where ceremonies and offerings took place. This also now consists of a base only, the sides being elaborately decorated with reliefs of edifying stories (next tip). The pendopo is dated 1297 Saka (1375 AD).
(3) The so-called Candi Angka Tahun is the most completely restored temple. It derived its name ('year number temple') from the dating, 1291 Saka (1369 AD), although it is not the only dated structure. It is also called Candi Brawijaya, because the East-Java Brawijaya divison of the army has adopted it as their symbol.
(4) The Candi Naga or 'dragons temple', named after the dragons or snakes which decorate the upper edge of the temple body, the roof is missing. The snakes are supported by effigies of what may be kings, nine of them. This temple may have served the same function as Pura Kehen in Bangli (Bali) and Pura Taman Sari in Klungkung (Bali), viz. for storing sacred objects or for sanctifying objects belonging to the king.
(5) The Candi Induk or main temple. This originally stood within a walled space, but the (probably brick) walls have disappeared. Three levels or storeys have been restored, but the roof could only be partly assembled and stands at your left when you face the main stairs. The walls of the three storeys are decorated with scenes from the Ramayana and Kresnayana tales.
(6) When you have reached the back of the compound, a short walk down to the right leads to the Kolam Berangka or 'dated pool'. This bating place carries the year 1337 Sake (1415 AD).
Address: Penataran village, Nglegok district, Blitar regency
Directions: At Blitar town take Jalan Sudirman to the north, direction Makan Bung Karno. Pass by Soekarno's burial place going north until you reach the district capital Nglegok at 10 km from Blitar. At Nglegok market turn right for 2 km until the market of Penataran village. Here go left 300 m and you arrive.
Access: You enter the same way as people may have done in the past, between two giant dwarapala or guard statues, dated 1242 Saka (1320 AD). Then you pay for a ticket only Rp 1000 p.p., parking a car is Rp 2000 (December 2009). The human guards have an interesting booklet for sale (in Indonesian) from which we borrowed all the details of our tips.
Updated Mar 18, 2010
3 Reviews and 28 Opinions The hotel was about 3 kms from the bus station. I called the hotel to arrange for a pickup. A...