Temple, waterfall lakes and hot springs
Candi Kedaton is a small, incomplete 14th century Majapahit temple on the slopes of Gunung Argapura in Tiris, some 50 kilometres southeast of Probolingo, and though the temple is important historically and harbours some exquisite detailed carvings, this is one for the hardcore candi chasers only.
To reach this remote area can take hours and is via a punishing road that resembles a riverbed in parts, however if you have a day to spare and are up for a bit of adventure, you can combine a trip to the temple with other sites in the area which include some lovely lakes, a waterfall and an awesome natural hot spring. Pack your swimmers, but also pack a jacket—it can get mighty cool in the hills.
The journey to Candi Kedaton is incredibly scenic, as the road winds though the mountain villages rice terraces and coffee plantations, it’s easy to forget that you are on an island filled with millions of people. Once you reach the village of Andungbiru, look for the small sign indicating the path to Candi Kedaton. It’s a short walk down a steep and narrow track to the temple which is enclosed in a cleared grassy fenced area amidst the surrounding jungle.
Built of grey volcanic andesite rock, Candi Kedaton resembles an altar—a six metre square platform standing only a couple of metres high with a small squat staircase leading to the flat top. Detailed relief panels surround the sides, and the carvings are in very good condition depicting scenes from the Mahabharata sagas of Arjuna and Garuda. Some missing panels are replaced by unadorned stone and a couple of these “lost” reliefs can be found in the Probolinggo Museum.
Adorning the outer sides of the balustrade is a relief of a miniature Majapahit style candi, a symbol of Mount Meru, the centre of the Hindu cosmos. An inscription in Sanskrit stating the date in the Saka calendar 1292 (1370 AD), is clearly visible on the left balustrade which dates the temple to have been constructed during the reign of Majapahit King Hayam Wuruk.
Next to the temple, a covered area stores a pile of jigsaw puzzle pieces of carved rock, presumably the upper part of the temple yet to be reconstructed. Although there is little other evidence left, the area seems to have been an important centre at the time. A statue of Bima was discovered in the nearby river and is now on display in the Majaphait Museum in Trowulan. Although there is not a lot to see, take a moment to enjoy the serene surroundings and superb sculpture, you’ve earned a rest after the bumpy road to get here.
On the return journey, around one kilometre back along the same road, you’ll find the small but pretty waterfall, Air Terjun Mukjizat. The path to the falls was very muddy and slippery in wet season, and a local farmer informed us that you can climb to the top to taller falls behind, but warned us it was unsafe in wet season, so we didn’t attempt it.
Continue a further six-and-a-half kilometres and you will see the turnoff to Ranu Agung, a picturesque creator lake which is another one-and-a-half kilometres after the turnoff. Ranu Agung translates to Great Lake, and though the kidney-shaped lake covers an area of around 20 hectares, it’s not the largest in the vicinity (from our measurements nearby Ranau Segaran is larger at 24 hectares).
The parking area sits at an elevation of around 600 metres above sea level and from the car park, a steep trail leads around 350 metres to the lake’s edge. The entry fee is 4,000 rupiah, but on the rainy day we visited the area was closed, although it was still very atmospheric looking though the mist to the attractive scene below. A couple of warungs are around the carpark (also closed when we visited), but the area would make a lovely spot for a picnic.
Returning to the main road, in three kilometres you will reach another turnoff to Ranau Segaran where it’s less than a kilometre to another volcanic crater lake. Ranau Segaran is more accessible than Ranu Agung, and therefore the entry fee is slightly higher at 10,000 rupiah (according to local reports—there was no one to take our money when we visited) and it attracts more visitors. The expansive reservoir is a popular local fishing and leisure spot and a lakeside warung serves up the usual nasi and mie dishes as well as renting paddle ducks of a bit of family fun. Locals mentioned that it can get very crowded here during holiday periods.
If you continue around the lake a little, following the signs to the “Air Panas Segaran”, it will eventually lead to a very scenic nearby river with a natural hot spring bubbling away at the waters edge. From the lake, the road is less than a kilometre, but is very steep and windy. Motorbikes can ride most of the way down, but if you are travelling by car, you’ll have to walk from a parking area about halfway to the river. The entry fee to the hot springs is 10,000 rupiah (again unconfirmed) and change rooms are available for 2,000 rupiah.
You will be rewarded for your effort, this is a sublime setting and the water is deliciously warm. Be careful however, as it was literally boiling in some areas and you’ll want to pick a place to soak where the cold river water mixes with the sulphur infused hot spring at just the right temperature, then lie back and enjoy the spectacular surrounding natural beauty.
On the cold drizzly day we visited it was our idea of heaven, but on weekends when it’s more crowded, it may not have the same appeal. In this conservative area, board shorts and a rashie or T-shirt are more appropriate than a bikini. The return trip to Probolinggo is around 45 kilometres—expect it to take longer than you imaging as the roads are slow.
Public transport is not available to Candi Kedaton and the Tiris area and is best reached by hiring a car or motorbike/ojek for the day. A car is the more comfortable option as the roads are not great—it took us three hours to reach the temple from Probolinggo on a motorbike. The trip is not recommended for novice motorbike riders, hire an ojek instead.
An ojek will set you back around 200,000—250,000 rupiah for the trip. We recommend Wahid Efendi T: (0812) 3406 9091; WA: (0813) 3608 8685. From Probolinggo head east along the north coast road in the direction of Bayuwangi, after around 20 kilometres turn right into Jalan Raya Pesawahan heading south and follow the signs to the lakes and temple.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.