East Java’s oldest temple
Published/Last edited or updated: 1st May, 2018
Candi Badut is the oldest known temple in East Java that according to the Sanskrit inscription on the temple dates from 760 AD (Saka 682).
Tucked away smack in the middle of a residential area on the western outskirts of Malang around five kilometres from the city centre, Candi Badut is not part of the later Singosari group dotted around the north and east of Malang, but is from a much earlier period.
The temple was reportedly little more than a pile of rubble when it was rediscovered by Dutch archaeologists in the early 1920’s afterwhich it underwent its first reconstruction. Although it has been the subject of much speculation, it is believed to have been built by rulers of the Kanjuruhan Kingdom who possibly had links to the Sanjaya dynasty of Central Java.
“Badut” means clown in Indonesian, but the name has nothing to do with the circus, but likely has Sanskrit origins. Built of grey andesite volcanic stone, this squat square Shivite temple resembles the smaller and slightly more ancient temples of Central Java’s Dieng and Gedong Songo groups. Typical of Java’s temples of this period, the structure has three parts, a wide almost square plinth with a smaller square chamber above, leaving a path for devotees to circumnavigate the temple along the ledge. Unfortunately the roof is incomplete, but judging from the piles of rocks waiting for reconstruction in the temple grounds, it was probably topped by a collection of small stupas.
A single central staircase allows you to enter the chamber via a doorway overlooked by a grinning Kala head where you’ll see a yoni-linggga which we were shocked and disappointed to discover has been badly vandalised with letters carved deep into the stone. The inner walls of the chamber have also been vandalised—we suggest the culprits (who are the true “badut”) should have their lingga removed.
Niches inside and outside the temple are mostly empty except for one remaining headless statue of an eight armed Durga. A small also headless Nandi bull sculpture sits among the piles of rocks waiting to complete the puzzle. To the northwest of the temple, lays the foundations of a smaller temple.
Candi Badut is important historically, and we think is worth a quick stop, but it’s not nearly as impressive as the more famous temples of Central Java, however combined with a temple tour of Malang’s Singosari temples it offers an insightful overview of the ancient history of the area.
Candi Badut is not obvious from the road, tucked down an alley behind some buildings off Jalan Candi 5D—you may need to ask around. Angkots marked “AT” that run between Arjosari Terminal and the small angkot subterminal Tidar pass nearby (5,000 rupiah). If coming directly from the city, a Go-Jek ride from the city centre will set you back around 10,000 rupiah, alternately visit as part of a temple day tour. We hired an ojek with an English speaking guide for 250,000 rupiah for the full day from Bromo Holiday in Malang: T: (0818) 386 300, (0812) 3306 6434; firstname.lastname@example.org;
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.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.