Written by
Rita Andrade
Posted by Administrator

I didn't know about the existance of a construction called Candi and, even after I learned that they existed, I still did not know exactly what they were. So, after my host explained that they were sacred Hindu and Buddhist places, I decided to research a little about them, as I knew we were going to visit some of them.

These buildings are mainly from the 8th to 15th century and were used for different situations: some of them were sanctuaries, others were cemeteries or bathing places or even urban ruins, ancient but some are non-religious. The term Candi is used to identify a specific Indian-like architectural style. These constructions have a lot of history behind them, so I was curious to know more about them: pretty soon we were riding towards Candi Sumber Awan and Candi Singosari, very close to Malang.  


Getting to Sumber Awan from Malang was about 30 minutes with a scooter - easy road with gorgeous scenery and... a lot of chickens! We stopped next to a bridge overpassing a waterstream with a view to some rice fields that went on for miles on the foothils of Mount Arjuna. Immediately we see and arrow point you to a dirt road that follows the stream up, and we start walking with the rice fields on one side and the small stream on the other. It's impossible not to want to capture that view: so my camera was out the whole time.

As we were walking, I started hearing some "clack-clack" sounds that I could not identify. I looked around when I heard again and, out of the middle of the rice fields, I see a hand. Just a hand holding a woden instrument that made the noise. Nothing else. And everytime he did the sound, there would be answers all around the rice fields. When they made de sound, the hand would come up and then go down immediately after and you could see absolutely no one there! I was very intrigued by this... Is this some kind of code between the workers? Do they have their own Morse Code for plantation? My host soon enlightened me by explaining that it was because of the birds! He told me to look around, and then I found a man, sitting in a woden house holding a bunch of strings conected throughout the fields. Everytime he pulled one string, the noises started and the men in the fields would do them also.


Rice field with all components

The path towards the Candi takes about 10 minutes and it's very narrow - you almost have to jump into a river whenever a scooter decides to cross it. It is a dirt road. When we get into a clearing, there are some people there - I focused on a family very happily bathing in the water stream; they also focused on me, being the only bule around. I took some pictures of them, just because they looked so happy! The scenery there is really beautiful: lots of trees, vegetation, flowers and you are really inside nature.


Happy Family

And then, you see gates. To get in, I signed my name and address and details of why I was there. After, I made a contribution of 5000rps (it's not mandatory, but it is). The Candi stands out really fast in the midst of the nature: a Buddhist stupa shaped stone structure, with very beautiful colours, centered in the middle of a well-treated lawn. I had seen it in pictures and I thought it would not be very impressive - i was wrong. Somehow, it is really a magical place.

The building makes you feel serene, the scenery calms you down. The whole place has a mistique about it. And when I thought I couldn't love anymore, I felt the smell of incense and looked back: a group of buddhists were praying. How unbelievably wonderful was that? How lucky am I?? It was so great I almost wanted to just sit next to them. I am glad I could immortalize that moment by taking pictures, very silently so that I wouldn't disturb the peaceful moment. I asked my host what kind of Candi was that, and he told me it used to filter water. Later on I found out that it was built in the 14th Century to commemorate the visit of the Majapahit (the kingdom of Java) King at the time, Hayam Wuruk. After enjoying it for a little longer, we decided to head up to our next destination.


some people pray on Candi Sumber awan


Before we passed the gates, we spoted a muslim man praying, right behind the Buddhists, in what a found a beautiful sign of harmony between religions that you can only get in a country like Indonesia. Going back to the starting point, we passed the water stream again, now with even more kids swiming around it naked. They would giggle and hide their faces in the water as I passed.

When we reached our scooter, I looked back - in the entrance there was a structure where the stream passed through and I could hear someone bathing; as I looked, I noticed it was a naked grown man, he too having his fun in the water and he was getting up when he looked at me and covered his private parts when a very surprised but serene smile.  


As we headed to the next destination, we drove through a very nice plateau of rice fields and small villages. Oh, and chickens. Candi Singosari is not as exciting and Sumber Awan - when you get there, you get there. There is no path to reach it as it is right next to the road. It is very easy to reach, which for me takes a little bit of the magicality of it. It is better well-known that Sumber Awan, I was not the only bule there.

But the structure itself is bigger and more complex - it is not just a squared construction, it has stairs, entrances and it is also older - it dates from around the begging of the 14th century. This is a Hindu monument that celebrated the last king of Singosari's dinasty. It is an impressive temple and there was a man praying on the inside - but i found it distracting the amount of people there. This Candi used to have more statues, but many of them are in museums now. There is only one left - the statue of Agastya, a Hindu God that is said to have walked across the water to Java. Being so mainstream and not in an isolated place takes away the "AH" factor when you see it - but it was still worth the visit as the structure is quite impressive and beautiful.  




I Love Candis. The two I've seen so far, Sumberawan and Singosari, left a very good impression on me, so when my host told me there were many other around, I really wanted to see them! So one day, we decided to visit two more: Jago and Kidal.  

Not very far from Malang we found a new Candi: Jago. It's not isolated, it's very easy to access as it is right next to the road. Around it you can fnd a beautifully maintained garden. The Candi itself is large. Very big stone square with several layers and a doorway on top. In every layer you can find gorgeous drawings encarved in the stone, depicting several people and situations. I was wondering if it was Hindu or Buddhist, but in front of the temple there is a statue of a woman with several hands and looks a lot like a Hindu Godess, so I thought it was probably Hindu. My host told me that it was build in the memory of one Singosari king who died in the year 1268. As every Candi I visit, it had a kind of relaxing aura, you can just stay there the whole day looking at it and feeling calm. This Candi you can go up until the top, and so I did. Got up and in the doorway you have a really good view. The sun was really hot that day, so I quickly went one level down and sat down looking at the view, only to understand that the stone was really really hot. As I was going down my host tells me it's actually a Buddhist temple! So, I should have started from the left. I didn't know, so I hope no one got offend it by it. We enjoyed it a little longer and then went to the security guard who told the story about this temple, but in Indonesian. All I got was that there were more statues here, but they are now in a museum in Jakarta. We said goobye, paid the contribution (5 000 rps) and headed to our next Candi.  


On hot stone because of the sun


on the side of Candi Kidal. Theres artifack with contain story



CANDI JAGO with lotus stone


This one is one to remember. Gorgeous, isolated, full of stories and relaxing. When we get there we find a long narrow garden leading to the Candi: a tall stone construction with a beautiful structure. As we get closer, the size of it impresses - it's bigger than what it looks. It has stairs in the middle to get to the praying place inside the Candi. This one is really Hindu and is the grave of the second Singosari king, son of the very well-known Ken Dedes, who was murdered. All around the buiding there are engravings of the story of Garuda, the symbol chosen by Soekarno, the first President of Indonesia, to be the symbol of Indonesia. My host explained to me that Garuda, a mythological bird-like creature from Hindu History, went on a crazy adventure to save his mother and then became the mount for the God Vishnu to ride. As my host was explaining this story, I remembered that the king that was buried there also tried to save his mother from her second husban, by killing him. This Candi has a lot of meaning, is isolated and I would've gladly stayed there the intire day just looking at it and imagining everything around the stories of these people. We sat down under a tree for a while and then, after enjoying it enough, we left this beautiful place.


Garuda artifact on Candi Kidal


On Candi Kidal




Courtesy: Rita Andrade