Trowulan

Travel Guide Asia Indonesia Java East Java Trowulan

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Introduction

Bajang Ratu gate

Bajang Ratu gate

© theo1006

Trowulan is a rural subdistrict of Mojokerto regency in East Java, on the main road from Solo to Surabaya. It is not even a town, and one might drive through it before one is even aware to have arrived. Yet in the 14th and 15th centuries Trowulan was the location of the capital of Java’s greatest empire, Majapahit. The greater part of the Indonesian archipelago and parts of Malaysia and Vietnam are believed to have been tributaries to the king of Majapahit at some point in time.

The main sights at Trowulan are four structures built of brick. Two of them are gates, Bajang Ratu gate and Wringin Lawang gate; the third, named Tikus temple, was actually a bathing place. The fourth, Brahu temple, was indeed a Buddhist temple. In all of them the bricks were stacked without cement. By rubbing the bricks on a flat surface they were given a sharp outline so that a tight fit was ensured. The technique is still common in Bali.

In the roughly 100 square kilometres area, several more archaeological discoveries are worth a visit, some still in the process of being uncovered. There is the large water reservoir Kolam Segaran. There are several excavation sites, among these the remains two more temples, Minak Jinggo and Gentong. Also there are several cemeteries, among which the royal burial ground Siti Hinggil and a grave said to be of a princess of Champa are the most interetsing.

While at Trowulan one may also visit Indonesia’s largest Reclining Buddha statue in the grounds of a Buddhist monastery, Maha Vihara Mojopahit.

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Sights and Activities

Main sights

  • Majapahit Information Centre - Having arrived at Trowulan you best start by paying a visit to the Majapahit Information Centre or Pusat Informasi Majapahit. Apart from the interesting museum collection, here you can obtain an informative booklet (in Indonesian) on the Trowulan sites complete with a map. With this you can set out to view the historic remains spread out over several square kilometres. Seeking them all out may well take the greater part of a day. The museum collection consists mainly of all kinds of artefacts from the Majapahit area, displayed both inside the buildings and in the yard. These can be divided in four groups: (1) terracotta artefacts, both for household and for building purposes; (2) ceramics, originating from China, Thailand and Vietnam; (3) artefacts of metal, like coins, lamps, bells, mirrors and musical instruments; (4) stone artefacts, among which statues and bas-reliefs. The museum also has a reconstruction of a typical dwelling of the Majapahit area, and a collection of prehistoric objects and fossils. Entrance fee of the museum is nominal, unfortunately taking pictures inside is not allowed. Directly south of the museum remains have been uncovered of a residential area.
  • Bajang Ratu gate - Majapahit architects developed two types of gates, the split gate or candi bentar and the roofed gate, called paduraksa. Gapura Bajang Ratu is a gate of the latter type. It is thought to have been the entrance gate to a holy shrine in honour of King Jayanegara, who died in the year Saka 1328. This means that the gate must have been built after the demise of mentioned king, in the late 13th or the 14th century AD. The gate is 16.5 metres high, the doorway 1.40 metres wide. At its sides there are some remains indicating that there was a wall encircling the shrine. Over the gateway and on the wings are the usual reliefs of kala heads, and on the roof also lions, dragons, cyclops and garuda heads. All these would keep bad influences away.
Brahu Temple

Brahu Temple

© theo1006

  • Brahu temple - Like all Trowulan temples Candi Brahu was built of brick. Its height is 27.5 metres, and its rectangular base 20.7 metres wide. Research during reconstruction has shown that the present base encloses an older one of 17 metres wide. The temple faces west. On the roof at the back are some circular structures, thought to be stupa's. This and the general design would indicate that Candi Brahu was a Buddhist temple.
  • Tikus temple - Candi Tikus was not really a temple but a bathing place. In its centre there is a small temple-like structure representing Mahameru mountain, the abode of the gods and the source of all life. This source of life was the water flowing from the fountain heads at the foot of the Mahameru effigy. Nowadays water is less abundant. The spouts are dry and only in the rainy season there may be some water at the bottom. The name Candi Tikus (Rat Temple) has a curious origin. In 1914 the local population experienced a rat plague, the rats having their nests in a hillock. When the hillock was dug out the temple was discovered. It was restored to its present condition from 1984 to 1989.
Wringin Lawang Gate

Wringin Lawang Gate

© theo1006

  • Wringin Lawang gate - Gapura Wringin Lawang is a split gate. It is thought to have been the entrance gate to a housing complex. This conjecture is based upon the discovery of 14 ancient wells north-west of the gate. Until this day many houses in East Java have a well in their front yard. And Wringin Lawang gate is still the model of gates big and small all over East Java.
  • Segaran Pool - This artificial lake was discovered in 1926, when it was all filled up and overgrown with grass. It is one of 32 water reservoirs of the Majapahit kingdom that have been found so far. Restauration work has intermittenty been done in 1966, 1974 and 1983/84 so that we now can see the lake as it appeared in the time of Majapahit kingdom. The lake is 375 metres long and 125 metres wide. The brick walls are 3.16 metres high and 1.6 metres thick. One can walk all around the lake on the walls. The word segara is Javanese for sea. So kolam segaran should be read as "a pool like a sea".
Reclining Buddha

Reclining Buddha

© theo1006

Reclining Buddha statue - Trowulan also happens to be the home of Indonesia's biggest Reclining Buddha statue. With a length of 22 metres it is the third biggest in the world, behind the statues in Bangkok and in Nepal. It is located in an attractive setting, within a lotus pond and with reliefs of Buddha's life on the pedestal. Visitors are always welcome at the monastery Maha Vihara Mojopahit. One can freely stroll the 2 ha grounds, to see the miniature Borobudur, the various altars like the one dedicated to Maha Brahma, and have a silent time in the dharma room Sasono Bhakti. If you should wish to stay for a retreat or study in the library, accommodation is available. In November there are festivities to celebrate the Maha Brahma / She Mien Fuk anniversary. Phone: +62.321.495 533. Website: http://www.mahavihara-mojopahit.or.id/mvm/ (Indonesian language).

Excavation sites

Gentong temple excavation

Gentong temple excavation

© theo1006

  • Gentong temple - Candi Gentong or Gentong temple is thought to have been a Buddhist temple complex consisting of one central building surrounded by a number of smaller ones. It would have been one of a row of three temples: Candi Gedong, Candi Tengah and Candi Gentong. However, at the beginning of the 20th century of Candi Gentong only a number of earthen mounds remained, and the other two had disappeared altogether. Since 1995 efforts have been made to uncover what was left of Gentong temple, resulting in the discovery of the remains of five structures.
  • Minak Jinggo temple - Minak Jinggo (or Menakjinggo) temple was the only one in the Trowulan area built of andesit, not brick like the others. But only the foundations and loose stones are to be seen here. The most important finds in terms of reliefs and statues are on display in the Information Centre. Among them two big reliefs, one of a mermaid and one of a giant with wings locally known as Menakjinggo. Archaeologists think it is a representation of Garuda.
  • Sentonorejo site – The floor with hexagonal tiles that has been uncovered here is thought to have belonged to a private residence.
  • Kedaton site - In Kedaton village several brick structures have been uncovered, thought to have been a temple and a dwelling compound. During the excavation many pieces of statues and of Chines ceramics were unearthed, as well as the skeletons of five individuals. The first structure one meets when entering the site is the restored base of the temple. In front of it is a 5.7 metres deep well still being used by the local population. At 100 metres west of the site is a field with 14 octagonal pedestal stones which must have been the base of a pendopo, a wooden hall with tiled roof.
  • Klinterejo site – This site, in Klinterejo village, lies at 7 kilometres from the museum. The various remains that have been uncovered here point to structures of a religious nature. The main artifact is a large yoni (altar), richly decorated with carvings.

Cemeteries

Headstone of the Princess of Champa

Headstone of the Princess of Champa

© theo1006

  • The grave of a princess from Champa – Champa was a kingdom in present-day southern Vietnam, that is certain. But there are various conjectures of who the princess was and whom she married. Based on the year on the headstone, Saka 1230 = AD 1308, most likely she married Kertanegara, the last king of Singhasari, the kingdom preceding Majapahit. The cemetery around Putri Campa's headstone is essentially a muslim cemetery.
  • Siti Hinggil royal cemetery - Siti Hinggil meaning 'High Ground' was and is a sacred place where it is said that the first king of Majapahit used to rest and meditate. Around it is a cemetery where Majapahit’s first king, Raden Wijaya (reign AD 1293 to 1309), and his two wives are supposed to rest. Yet the tombs with western lettering can’t be orginal. There are also tombs of the legendary Eyang Sapu Jagad and Kyai Sapu Angin. The spirits of these two are revered as wardens of Merapi volcano who decide whether and when an eruption will take place. Especially on the day Jumat Legi of the Javanese calendar people come here to pray and be saved from harm.
  • Makam Panjang - Makam Panjang (long grave) is a cemetery of recent construction. The only historic object here is a stone with inscription (prasasti). The inscription in old Javanese tells that "a banyan tree was planted here in the year 1203”. The year Saka 1203 coincides with AD 1281, which proves that the place was inhabited twelve years before the first Majapahit king ascended the throne.
  • Troloyo cemetery – Although the main religion of Majapahit was Buddhism, there was a Muslim community living in Trowulan. Scholars have concluded that Troloyo was their cemetery, where members of the royal family who had embraced Islam were interred. However, none of their tombs have survived.

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Getting There

By Train

The closest railway stations are at Jombang (19 kilometres from the museum) and at Mojokerto (13 kilometres from the museum). They lie on the line connecting Solo with Surabaya. In Mojokerto you can take a becak to Kertajaya bus station, from where it is a 15 minutes bus ride to Trowulan.

By Car

Trowulan lies on the main road from Yogyakarta to Probolinggo and Banyuwangi. So the site can be visited when travelling by car from Yogya to Bali. On the same route one usually takes a day off for Bromo volcano and/or Ijen crater. Exploring Trowulan will need an extra day.

By Bus

Buses from Surabaya’s Bungurasih bus station with direction Jombang and beyond can drop you off at Trowulan’s main crossroad.

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Getting Around

By Car

The various sites are several kilometres apart. So it is essential to have motorized transport for visiting them all, a car or motorcycle.

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Sleep

Unfortunately there is no accommodation in Trowulan village. One has to stay over in neighbouring towns of Jombang or Mojokerto, both at about 15 kilometres distance - or in Pare, at about 35 kilometres.

  • Yusro Hotel Restaurant is a good option, located on the border of Jombang town on de Trowulan side, close to the bus terminal.
  • The Buddhists at Maha Vihara Mojopahit extend hospitality to anyone willing to accept their modest lifestyle. A voluntary donation is welcome.

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet is becoming more widely used in Indonesia, and warung Internet (warnet) - Internet cafés - are emerging everywhere. A lot of restaurants and cafés in big cities normally have wireless internet available for free. Internet connection speed in Indonesia varies between ISP and location. Prices vary considerably, and as usual you tend to get what you pay for, but you'll usually be looking at around Rp3,000 to Rp5,000 per hour with faster access than from your own mobile phone. In large cities, there are free WiFi hotspots in many shopping malls, McDonald restaurants, Starbucks cafes, 7 Eleven convenience stores, and in some restaurants and bars. Some hotels provide free hotspots in the lobby and/or in their restaurants and even in your rooms.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

You can use 112 as an emergency number through mobile phones. Other numbers include 110 (police), 113 (fire) and 118 (ambulance).
The international phone code is 62.

If you have GSM cellular phone, ask your local provider about "roaming agreement/facility" with local GSM operators in Indonesia (i.e.: PT Indosat, PT Telkomsel, PT XL Axiata). The cheapest way is buying a local SIM card, which would be much cheaper to call and especially use internet compared to your own cell phone's sim card.

The Indonesian mobile phone market is heavily competitive and prices are low: you can pick up a prepaid SIM card for less than Rp 10,000 and calls may cost as little as Rp 300 a minute to some other countries using certain carriers (subject to the usual host of restrictions). SMS (text message) service is generally very cheap, with local SMS as low as Rp129-165, and international SMS for Rp400-600. Indonesia is also the world's largest market for used phones, and basic models start from Rp 150,000, with used ones being even cheaper.

Post

Pos Indonesia provides the postal service in Indonesia. Pos Indonesia is government-owned and offers services ranging from sending letters and packages to money transfers (usually to remote areas which have no bank branch/ATM nearby) and selling postcards and stamps. Sending a postcards, letter or parcel is relatively expensive, but fairly reliable. It takes several days at least to send it within Indonesia, at least a week internationally. It is recommended to send letters from a Pos Indonesia branch, not by putting it inside orange mailbox (called Bis Surat) in the roadside, because some of the mailboxes are in very bad condition and aren't checked regularly by Pos Indonesia. Opening times of post offices usually tend to follow general business hours: Monday to Friday from 8:00am to 4:00pm (sometimes shorter hours on Fridays), Saturdays from 8:00am to 1:00pm, closed on Sundays. Bigger cities, tourist areas and central post offices tend to keep longer hours, into the evenings.

Private postal services based in Indonesia include CV Titipan Kilat (CV TIKI), Jalur Nugraha Ekaputra (JNE), Caraka, and RPX. There are also foreign postal services that have branches in Indonesia, including DHL, TNT, UPS, and FedEx.

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This is version 16. Last edited at 21:38 on Jan 28, 20 by theo1006. 4 articles link to this page.

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