Just east of here are two interesting temples. From the village of Blimbing on the northern outskirts of Malang, take a signposted road to Tumpang, about 20 kms (12miles) away. Just before the Tumpang market, a small road to the left leads to Candi Jago – a terraced shrine begun in 1268 as a memorial to another Singhasari King – Vishnuvardhana. All around the terraces are reliefs in the distinctive wayang or Javanese shadow – puppet style depicting scene from the Mahabharata, and a frightening procession of demons in the underworld (from the Kunjarakarna). A little over 5 kms (3 miles) to the southwest of Tumpang is Candi Kidal, a tall, slender gem of a temple honouring yet another Singhasari monarch, Anushapati, who died in 1248.
East Java’s only sizeable temple complex is Candi Penataran, located 80 kms (50 miles) to the west of Malang, just north of the city of Blitar (best reached by taking the longer but more scenic route over the mountains via Kediri).
This was apparently the “state temple” of Majapahit, assembled over a period of some 250 years, between 1197 and 1454. It has no soaring pinnacle or massive stupa but rather a series of shrines and pavillions arranged before a broad platform. It is assumed that the pavillions were originally roofed with wood and thatch, as was the body of the main temple, now partially reconstructed at ground level alongside its massive three tiered base.
It is interisting that Penataran’s architects no longer aimed at formal symmetry, in imitation of Indian models, but instead laid out their temple essentially in the manner of an indigenous palace, with audience pavilions in the forecourt and an ornately decorated bathing pool at the rear. The main temple is at the back of the complex, closest to the mountain (as in Bali), and its terraces are lined with bold wayang reliefs – scenes from the ever popular Ramayana and the Krishnayana, and with many unique animal medallions.
Near Penataran (on the road to Blitar) stands President Soekarno’s Mausoleum, the final resting place of the famous “father of Indonesian Independence” who died in 1970. And on the way to or from Blitar via the scenic Malang – Kediri highroad, make a detour north from Batu to the mountain resort of Selekta – famous for its colonial bungalows, swimming pools and apple orchards.
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