Photo: Enigmatic Candi Sukuh.

Candi Cetho, Candi Kethek and Candi Sukuh

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Located some 40 kilometres from Solo and set high among breathtaking tea plantations and lush green farmlands on the dramatic western slopes of Gunung Lawu, sit the Majapathit period Candi Cetho, Candi Kethek and Candi Sukuh—together best visited on a tour from Solo.

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According to signage on site, Candi Cetho was established in 1475 and is made up of 13 terraces slowly rising to the final shrine at the summit (of the temple—not the mountain!). The candi sits literally at the end of the road, where, after buying your admission ticket, you walk a short distance forward and then start climbing the stairs.

Enjoy the fresh mountain air. Photo taken in or around Candi Cetho, Candi Kethek and Candi Sukuh, Solo, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Enjoy the fresh mountain air. Photo: Sally Arnold

If you’ve already been to Bali, the towering yet slender gates you pass through will be familiar—Candi Cetho was amongst the last of the Majapahit temples constructed and within 50 years of the sites consecration, the Kingdom was no more—but the style was carried across and remains common in, Bali. In some cases the gates are flanked by guardians, sadly often the heads removed—we assume by looters.

As you climb the stairs and pass through the gates and manicured gardens, be sure to look in all directions as the views can be quite spectacular—your best chance for good views are early morning as the site if often misted in my late morning. Also pay attention to some of the decorative blocks, often carved with signs of life at the time. In one we could make out palm trees, in another, an elephant and two people clearly paying homage to a ruler of some description.

Echoes of Bali. Photo taken in or around Candi Cetho, Candi Kethek and Candi Sukuh, Solo, Indonesia by Stuart McDonald.

Echoes of Bali. Photo: Stuart McDonald

After two gates you’ll reach a large, almost Mayan-styled, stone arrangement on the ground in the shape of a garuda with clear phallic overtures—these are believed to symbolise rebirth and dovetail with the temple being a site for the lifting of curses and repentance. Moving on and to the left of here a trail leads off to a secondary temple, Candi Kethek, and a ... Travelfish members only (Around 1,100 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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How to get there
Reaching Candi Cetho and Candi Sukuh falls into two categories—fast and slow. The fast way is to arrange a tour from Solo (either by scooter or car) there and back and any guesthouse should be able to arrange this. Once at Cetho it is possible to hike to Sukuh, but this takes a reported four hours and is heavy going in places. We hired a car and driver in Solo for 500,000 rupiah which included the drive to Candi Cetho, then to Candi Sukuh and then back to Solo. To do it by scooter would cost less, though note only one passenger on the bike as some of the hills—especially on the final approach to Candi Catho, are extremely steep.

By public transport you need to get a minibus from Solo to Karangpandan (runs hourly from 06:00 to 17:00, takes 45 minutes and costs 5,000 rupiah) then you change to a minibus to Kemuning (takes 30 minutes; 5,000 rupiah). From Kemuning you would need to get an ojek to Candi Cetho—considerable bargaining would be required for this leg. We would suggest having the ojek wait and then take you onwards to Candi Sukuh (unless you were planning on the four hour hike).

Once you were finished at Candi Sukuh, there is a trail onwards to Tawangmangu (which has accommodation, the walk apparently takes 1.5 to 2 hours) or from Candi Sukuh backtrack to Kemuning, Karangpandan and back to Solo. If there are two or more of you, the value of hiring a car for the trip there and back pays itself off quickly given the convenience.

Candi Cetho, Candi Kethek and Candi Sukuh
40km east of Solo
Early morning to 16:00
Admission: Candi Cetho 25,000 rupiah, Candi Kethek 5,000 rupiah, Candi Sukuh 25,000 rupiah

Location map for Candi Cetho, Candi Kethek and Candi Sukuh

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