Joko Dolog

Joko Dolog

Secluded Buddhist antiquity

More on Surabaya

Joko Dolog is an easy to miss but significant Buddhist antiquity secluded among food carts and traffic in a corner of Surabaya.

Travelfish says:
An inscription at the base of the statue. Photo by: Sally Arnold.
An inscription at the base of the statue. Photo: Sally Arnold

The statute, whose local name translates to “fat boy” was transported to Surabaya in 1817 from the 14th century Majapahit capital of Trowulan, 60 kilometres southeast of Surabaya, possibly with view to transport it to Europe.

In the past scholars have attributed the likeness to King Kertanegara, ruler of the Singosari Kingdom renowned (by his birth to royals from opposing kingdoms of Janggala and Kadiri) as been responsible for uniting the formally spilt Javanese kingdoms, but more recent translations of the Sanskrit inscribed base have led scholars to conclude it may be Mpu Bharada, the sage who is believed to have magically divided Java by sprinkling holy water from the sky during the 11th century reign of Airlangga.

The approach. Photo by: Stuart McDonald.
The approach. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Regardless of who it depicts, this peaceful enclave is a pleasant respite from the busy streets and the cool and shady spot wafting with the aroma of incense evokes a little present-day magic and remains a popular pilgrimage site.

Joko Dolog can be found in Taman Apsari in the city backstreets around 150 metres south of Gedung Negara Grahadi, the East Javanese Governor’s house. The park is gated, but was open when we visited mid-week with no indication of opening times, although the large sculpture can be seen (whilst a little obscured) from ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 300 words.)

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Reviewed by

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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