Mojokerto, located 50 km (31 miles) southeast of East Java’s capital city of Surabaya, Indonesia, is a district covering more than 950 square kilometers (366 square miles) of both low-lying land and mountainous areas. There, in the low-lying area, lie the remnants of the capital city of an ancient kingdom Majapahit (located in Trowulan village), and that’s the place where most tourists go when in Mojokerto. However, there is a big surprise waiting for you in another part of Mojokerto area! Just about 15 kilometers (9 miles) east of Trowulan there is Mount Penanggungan, and nobody has thought that this dormant mountain could store such a wonder! Many Hindu stone structures named ‘candi’ have been found almost everywhere on the mountain! After your Trowulan visit, why not hike the mountain?
Start your hike at Candi Jolotundo
To see a few of the candis, you need to hike. However, there is one that is located just 500 meters above sea level where you can get here by car. It is Candi Jolotundo. The candi is located in the village of Jolotundo, which is the base camp for mountain hikers before starting their hike to the top of Mount Penanggungan. This candi is also called a ‘petirtaan’, which is a Hindu building with a bathing pool. Inside you will find a 16m x 13m pond full of colorful koi fish, and the water comes from the mountain springs above. You will find the spring water showering from the 52 holes in the candis walls. This is amazing since this structure is more than 1000 years old (built in 997 AD by the king of an ancient Kahuripan kingdom, where the building is believed to be both the kings hermitage, and a place where his queen bathed). You can join some people as they wash themselves with the showering water from the walls, and they believe the water has health properties to make them stay young and healthy. Before hiking, it’s a good idea to spend some time here and relax to recharge your energy before the long hours of hiking. If you don’t hike, then you can simply go back to your hotel.
Hike for more candis
There are more than 80 candis found here, and around 10 of these candis are located along the hiking track. It’s a fun and less tiring trip, so even a healthy first time hiker can make the climb. Mount Penanggungan is only 1600 meters above sea level, which is relatively low compared to other surrounding mountains that have the height of more than 2000 meters above sea level. Moreover, every 75 or 100 meters you can stop by to take photographs of the candis. However, each candi is not intact, hence it is not known what these candis were used for. Many look like stones stacked together, and unlike the candis in Jolotundo, nothing has been done to restore these sites.
Spend the night at Shadow Peak
There is another base camp, named Puncak Bayangan (Shadow Peak), located a few hundred meters below the mountains highest peak (named Pawitra Peak). The time it takes you to get here from Jolotundo village will depend on how long you spend your time in the candis below (no more candis can be found from Shadow peak to the top of the mountain). It normally takes about 3 hours to get here from Jolotundo without visiting the Hindu sites. Here you can rent a tent for the night before continuing the hike up to the mountaintop of Pawitra peak to see the sunrise. The view at night is fabulous, and from here you will see the lights of the nearest towns and cities on the slope of Mount Welirang and Arjuna. To hike further to the highest peak (Pawitra peak), you need to begin your hike at 3am as the journey to the top takes less than 2 hours. However, you can also choose to not hike further, and enjoy the sun rise from behind Welirang Mountain!.
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The final hike is more difficult as you have to walk through steeper ground. However, all the efforts pay off after reaching the peak, because the view is awesome. You will be surrounded by the giant mountains of Welirang, Arjuna and Semeru. You can hardly see any cities at all in the morning due to the thick clouds below you. Wait until the clouds disappear and you will vaguely see the city of Surabaya and the Java sea in the far northeast!
Book a guide
There is another alternative hiking track to the peak, that is in Tamiajeng village. However, by taking this track you will find no candis along the way. If no one in your group has hiked this mountain before, regardless of what track you choose, you should do the hike with another group that has an experienced climber. You can also book a mountain guide for 37 USD at the base camp (Jolotundo or Tamiajeng) to make sure you don’t get lost during the hike. There is a path with signs where hikers walk, but there are bushes along the way making it easy to get lost. In addition, when you take Jolotundo track, some candis are hidden behind the bushes, but your experienced guide should know where they are located.
After your Trowulan visit, come to Mount Penanggungan
After your Trowulan visit, simply book a hotel in Trawas or Pacet village (where many decent hotels can be found), and let your driver take you there for the night before the hike on the following day. This is the mountain where you find the largest collection of candis. Where else in the world can you find something like this? Isn’t it a pity if you miss the chance to see the candis on this mountain?
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