Singosari temples

Singosari temples

Thirteenth century Hindu-Buddhist temples

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Encircling Malang are a handful of temple remains from the 13th century Hindu-Buddhist Singosari Kingdom, the predecessor of the mighty Majapahit Kingdom centred in Trowulan southwest of Surabaya.

Travelfish says:
Meet Candi Jago. Photo by: Sally Arnold.
Meet Candi Jago. Photo: Sally Arnold

We began with the more recent temples in the north at Candi Singosari around ten kilometres from the town centre and continued more or less in a clockwise direction and chronologically backwards around the city, but you could mix it up and start at any point. Unfortunately very little of the meagre information at the sites is in English.

Candi Singosari is built of andesite, a grey volcanic rock, and sits in a small grassy park surrounded by a splendid collection of Hindu and Buddhist statuary—cutting an impressive figure in an otherwise uninteresting village street. This Shivite temple was constructed in the late 13th to early 14th century to commemorate the death of Kertanegara, the last king of the Singosari dynasty who according to early written accounts (although written long after the event) was assassinated in 1292 which in turn led to the establishment of Majapahit rule.

It was a bright day at Candi Singosari. Photo by: Sally Arnold.
It was a bright day at Candi Singosari. Photo: Sally Arnold

Candi Singosari was likely one of several temples in the area, now vanished and covered by urban sprawl. Standing 15 metres tall, experts conclude that it would have been taller, toped with a now damaged pyramid shaped roof, probably similar in style to the roof of Candi Bajang Ratu in Trowulan. As well as having deteriorated over time, the temple was never completed, evident by the fine detailed carvings at the top, and crude unfinished examples at the lower level—decorative relief work always began at higher levels, so as not to damage the work below. Note particularly the one intricate Kala head at the upper western facing side of the temple compared with the more simple versions on the other sides and even more crude lower down (although details in that one’s left eye are also ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 1,300 words.)

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Sally spent twelve years leading tourists around Indonesia and Malaysia where she collected a lot of stuff. She once carried a 40kg rug overland across Java. Her house has been described as a cross between a museum and a library. Fuelled by coffee, she can often be found riding her bike or petting stray cats. Sally believes travel is the key to world peace.

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