Photo: Touch the earth.

Joko Dolog

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

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Beyond a couple of large shady banyan trees, a statue lined path leads to a large cross-legged seated Buddha-like sculpture, some 1.7 metres tall, sheltered by a pavilion. According to the Sanskrit inscription it dates from 1289.

An inscription at the base of the statue. Photo taken in or around Joko Dolog, Surabaya, Indonesia 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 taken in or around Joko Dolog, Surabaya, Indonesia 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 (Around 300 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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Joko Dolog
Taman Apsari, Surabaya
Admission: Free

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