There seems to be nothing much to do in Mojokerto, a district in East Java 50 km (31 miles), southeast of Indonesia’s second biggest city, Surabaya. However, in our surprise, this district holds various wonders. You may be amazed to know that the district covering an area of 950 square kilometers (366 sq miles), used to be the capital city of Majapahit, a very prominent Buddhist kingdom in the 13th to 15th century. You can also find the world’s third largest statue of the Sleeping Buddha!
Trowulan archaeological site
Welcome to the capital city of Majapahit Kingdom! From the artifacts found (e.g. statue, kitchen tools and potteries), this archaeological site used to be a developed ancient city with advanced civilization. During your visit, you will be accompanied by a staff (provided by the local government) and he or she will share what they know about anything related to Majapahit empire. There you can find water canals and reservoirs, as well as several candis, which mean artistic structures made of stones with carvings of Buddhist or Hindu arts for ritual purposes (e.g. Buddhist or Hindu figures).
A candi for royal bathing
Each structure is separated by several kilometers. It’s not clear where the royal families used to live, because what is left are just remnants, leaving no clue what the site used to be like in the past. Interestingly, there is a candi named Candi Tikus (tikus: mouse) that seems to have been used for bathing by the royal families in the past. During the dry season (April to October), you will find the pool is empty and dry, however, during the rainy season (the rest of the year) you will find it filled with rain water. There are some waterways that will remove the rain water when the water starts to overflow the Candi’s pool. Some rain water is kept inside the pool during the dry season, eventually evaporating throughout the day, leaving the pool dry.
Parks to cool off
The outdoor temperature throughout the day can be scorching (up to 35 degrees Celsius, and 95 Fahrenheit in dry season), so bring your umbrella if you can’t stand the heat, and direct sunlight. However, don’t worry as most sites have a well-maintained park with benches and tall trees (mostly banyan trees) where you can cool off after exploring the heritage.
Very few Majapahit artifacts are stored in museums throughout the United States and Europe, considering most are stored in Majapahit Museum, which is a part of the archaeological site. Most artifacts of Majapahit empire, like sculptures of Majapahit kings (made of carved stones), and ‘keris’ (Javanese winding swords owned by the rich, and believed to have magical powers) are stored here. Unlike most museums, taking pictures in here is not prohibited, so bring your camera and have your photos taken with the artifacts!
World’s 3rd largest sleeping Buddha
Just a few kilometers from the archaeological site, there is a large Buddhist temple named Vihara Majapahit. The name sounds very unfamiliar, but here you will find a 22-meter (72ft) statue of Sleeping Buddha. This is one of the largest Buddha statues in the world, only after the one in Thailand, and in Nepal! At night, you can watch and listen to people playing gamelan, a traditional Javanese musical instrument where musicians play music by hitting many finely-tuned gongs. With the dimly lit shrines, it really feels so peaceful. After your visit to the archaeological site, this Buddhist temple is a must visit!
Free entrance to the sites
In the archaeological site, you will need to sign the guestbook before entering, but it’s totally free for the entrance! It’s free to enter the Buddhist temple also! At both sites entrances, you will find some stalls selling souvenirs like t-shirts, clay piggy banks, and key chains, which you can buy for 1 to 3 USD. To get here, you need to rent a car in Surabaya, and the rent costs 45 USD (rent includes the driver). This might be one of the very few valuable tourist sites in the world where the entrance is free, so during your visit to East Java, put Trowulan on your top list of places to visit!
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