The Majapahit Dynasty, based in and around East Java, began the foundation of an empire that was to dominate the entire Indonesian archipelago, the Malay Peninsula and part of the Philippines for hundreds of years. This was the beginning of profitable trade relations with China, Cambodia, Siam, Burma and Vietnam. As the power in Central Java declined in the 10th century, powerful kingdoms rose in East Java to fill the power vacuum. During the reign of King Erlangga, both East Java and Bali enjoyed lucrative trade with the surrounding islands and an artistic and intellectual renaissance. Parts of the Mahabarata epic were translated and reinterpreted to conform to an East Javanese philosophy and view of life, and it was from this era that East Java inherited much of its temple art.
Today, performances at the open-air amphitheater at Pandaan recount this glorious past. Set against an impressive backdrop of distance volcanoes, it captures the spirit of the province’s culture and scenery.
East Java has a variety of attractions, ranging from temple sites to unspoiled beaches, stunning volcanoes, extraordinary highland lakes, resplendent marine parks and fantastic wildlife reserves. The provincial capital of East Java is Surabaya.
Places of Interest
The Second Larges city in Indonesia, Surabaya plays an integral part in the country’s history and development. It is a vast center for manufacture as well as trade, and many of Indonesia’s heavy industries are founded here. Various places in and around the city still retain interesting remnants of the region’s illustrious history and diverse cultural attraction that are gaining worldwide recognition. As fast growing industrial and commercial center, Surabaya experiences a boom of shopping malls, entertainment and dining centers, and world-class hotels that cater to both local and foreign tourist.
Many locals and foreign travelers make the trek for the mystical experience of watching the sunrise from the crest of the Bromo volcano. A pony ride from the village of Ngadisari takes you over a sea of sand to the foot of the volcano. A 50 step climb is needed to reach the rim. On the vast expanse of sand, formerly a caldera, are two volcanoes: the extinct Batok, perfectly cone-shaped, and Bromo. Volcanic sulfur fumes and smoke still emanate from the depths, and when the God of Bromo begins to rumble, the surrounding local Hindu population hastens to bring offerings. The annual offering ceremony of Kasada is held on the 14th day of Kasada, the 20th month in the Tenggerese calendar year. It is a colorful event where villagers from the surroundings areas bring their humble offerings to the hallowed volcano.
The Poten Hindu Temple
The Poten name is the Tenggerese Hindu temple that sits looking eerily beautiful in the sea of sand close to Mount Bromo. There is something quite magical about this place and the frugality of its decoration and austere design seems very appropriate for the location. Easily found, you really cannot miss it.
Trowulan - Pandaan - Tretes
Trowulan village and its vicinity are believed to be the site of the ancient capital of Majapahit. Archeological excavations in the area have recovered many terracotta ornaments, statues, pottery and stone carvings, which are displayed at the Trowulan Museum. The map in the museum shows nearby sites of historical interest. The Candra Wilwatika open-air theatre in Pandaan, 45 kilometers south of Surabaya presents classical East Javanese ballet performances on each full moon night from June to November. The performances are based either on the Ramayana epic or East Javanese legends and folklore. The backdrop of Mount Panangungan makes watching the performances an enchanting experience. Some 10 kilometers from Chandra Wilwatika is Tretes, one of the most beautiful mountain resorts of East Java.
Mount Kawi Cemetery is the final resting place of two prominent figures of 19th century Mataram Kraton, Kanjeng Kiai Zakaria II and Raden Mas Iman Soedjono. Some Indonesians, mostly of Javanese and Chinese ethnicity, consider these graves to be sacred. They would go on pilgrimage to the site and seek blessings of wealth and prosperity. The area leading to the graves at the top of a hill possess an intensely Javanese atmosphere, with frequent wayang and gamelan performances. On both sides of the long stairway is an assortment of sacred springs, Chinese houses of worship, flower and incense and souvenir stalls.
Alas Purwo National Park
Located just off the Surabaya-Banyuwangi main road is a dry countryside of open plain, forests and scrubland, bordered by marshes, swampy groves and white sandy beaches. About 81 kilometers to the south of Banyuwangi, this park is home to 700 wild buffaloes and various species of wildlife, which visitors can observe from a viewing tower. A jeep is the best mode of transport for traversing these rugged, grassy plains. Nearby is Grajagan, a surfers’ paradise with waves that are famous worldwide.
Kaliklatak is a commodities plantation 450-750 meters above sea level on the slopes of Mt. Merapi. Kaliklatak covers 2,500 acres of land producing coffee, rubber, cocoa and spices. Tour the plantation to see the entire process, from cultivation to harvest and processing for export
Sukamade Turtle Beach
Sukamade Turtle Beach lies 78 kilometers south of Banyuwangi, the beach is known for its deep turquoise waters and 250 kg sea turtles which come here to lay their eggs.
Meru Betiri Reserve
Here at the southeastern tip of province the last of the Javanese tigers seek refuge. A hundred and fifty years ago the Javanese tiger roamed most of Java and was even considered a nuisance in some populated areas. Wildlife of all kinds thrives in this reserve, such as black panthers, leopards and sea turtles.
Malang lies 90 kilometers south of Surabaya and is one of the most attractive hill towns in Java. A strong sense of civic pride is evident from the well maintained and elaborately painted becaks, the groomed Main Square, and clean buildings and streets. The cool climate is a welcome respite from Surabaya. About 20 kilometers from Malang, on the southern flank of Mt. Arjuna, are Selekta and Songgoriti, popular hill resorts with natural hot springs. Nearby Batu is famous for its Malang variety apple orchards.
Between Surabaya and Malang is the town of Singosari, where remnants of the 13th century Singosari Kingdom include a temple and two gigantic guardian statues flanking the main gateway to the capital of the kingdom. Jago Temple dates back to 1268, and is one of the most enchanting in East Java. Scenes from folktales and the Mahabarata epic decorate the temple’s wall panels. Kidal Temple was completed in 1260 to honor one of the kings, and is a gem of Singosari Temple art. Located 120 kilometers southwest of Malang and 11 kilometers north of Blitar is the well-preserved Penataran Temple in the 145h century Singosari-Majapahit Temple complex. The temple terraces are decorated with Ramayana bas-reliefs.
Bull Races (Karapan Sapi). Across the Madura Strait, half an hour’s ferry ride from Surabaya, is Madura Island. Famous for its traditional Bull Races (Karapan Sapi) and the ever popular Sate Madura, skewered grilled chicken pieces in fragrant peanut sauce.
Kawah Ijen or Ijen Crater
The dramatic volcanic cone of Ijen dominates the landscape at the eastern end of Java at Licin sub district, 45 kilometers from Banyuwangi. A spectacular turquoise blue lake fills the crater, its surface streaked in wind-blown patterns of yellow sulfur. Ijen Crater is the world’s largest highly acidic lake and is the site of a labor-intensive sulfur mining operation in which sulfurladen baskets are hand-carried from the crater floor. Many other post-caldera cones and craters are located within the caldera or along its rim.