Trowulan is an archaeological site located in Trowulan Subdistric, Mojokerto Regency in East Java. The city is the only Hindu-Buddha classical age site in Indonesia that has been discovered. The site covers an area of 11 km x 9 km.
Trowulan site has been suggested it was the site of the eponymous capital city of the Majapahit Empire, which is described by Mpu Prapanca in the 14th-century poem Nagarakretagama and in a 15th-century Chinese source. It was razed due to the invasion of Girindrawardhana to defeat Kertabhumi in 1478. After this event Majapahit's capital moved to Daha (Kediri).
Most of archaeological relics discovered in Trowulan and its vicinity is stored and displayed in Trowulan Museum, located on west side of Segaran pool. Excavations in and around Trowulan have shown that parts of the old settlement still lie buried under several metres of mud and volcanic debris, a result of the frequent eruptions of nearby Mount Kelud, as well as frequent flooding of the Brantas River. Several archaeological ruins lie scattered around Trowulan village. Several are quite damaged, while others have undergone reconstruction. Most are constructed of red brick.
The ancient city ruins at Trowulan had been discovered by the 19th century. Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies from 1811 until 1816 and an indefatigable enthusiast for the island's history, reported the existence of ' ruins of temples.... scattered about the country for many miles '. Much of the region was blanketed with dense teak forest at that time, making detailed survey impossible. Nonetheless, Raffles was so impressed by what he saw that he was later to refer to Trowulan as ' this pride of Java '
From Surabaya Terminal Bungurasih take a bus headed for Jombang and ask to get off at "Trowulan perempatan, lampu merah" (Trowulan four ways, traffic lights). Your first destination, Trowulan Museum is a 1 km walk (or becak / ojek ride) on the left road.
The bus ticket costs Rp. 7000 and takes approximately 1 hour.
By Car / Motorbike
Trowulan is 60 km down the Surabaya-Solo road. The road starts near Bungurasih bus terminal. Follow the signs to Krian and keep going. At Trowulan four ways, traffic lights your first destination, Trowulan Museum is 1 km on the left road.
Museum Trowulan (Official name: Pusat Informasi Majapahit / Majapahit Information Centre) houses archaeological finds from the region. Among them are Hindu-Buddhist religious statues, recovered parts of temples (like relief carvings, kala heads, water spouts, stelae, tiles), daily objects (water jars, utensils). There are several miniature models of Trowulan and its surroundings, pinpointing the locations of the ruins. The museum opens from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday to Sunday. On Fridays, the museum is closed from 11.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. The museum is closed on Mondays and public holidays. Admission to the museum is IDR 3,000.
The museum is recommended as the first stop for any visit to Trowulan because it also functions as a kind of information desk on the Trowulan archaeological sites. The museum guides speak Indonesian and English; they are a wealth of knowledge, very professional and can show visitors around the museum displays. Museum guides may be able to accompany visitors to the external sites (usually Candi Bajang Ratu, Candi Tikus, Wringin Lawang Gate, Candi Brahu) if you have come to Trowulan with a car and driver. The guides do not ask for payment for accompanying visitors to external sites, but it is fair that they be compensated for their effort. It will take about 2 to 3 hours to visit the four sites mentioned by car.
Candi Tikus is a ritual bathing pool (petirtaan) which is perhaps the most exciting recent archaeological finding at Trowulan. "Candi Tikus" means "rat temple", the name given to the discovery in 1914 because the site appeared during the excavation to be a rat-breeding enclosure. Restored to its present condition in 1985 and 1989, this complex of red brick takes the form of a sunken, rectangular basin, into which a flight of steps descends on the northern side. On either side of the steps are two small square bathing pools; one for women and one for men. The pools fill with water during the rainy season--January to April. The principal structure, which projects from the southern wall of the basin, was apparently modelled on the legendary Mount Mahameru. No longer complete, it consisted of terraced foundations, upon which would have rested a concentric arrangement of 'turrets' surrounding the highest peak of the building. This bathing complex was used by the nobility. Admission to Candi Tikus is IDR 3,000. If you have come by car, parking is IDR 5,000.
Candi Bajang Ratu is an elegant red brick paduraksa gate dating from the mid-14th century. The form of the structure is tall and slender, rising to a height of 16.5 metres and displaying intricate relief decoration, especially on the roof section. Bajang Ratu in Javanese literally means 'dwarf or defect monarch'. Folk tradition links the gate with Jayanegara, the second Majapahit king, successor to Kertarajasa Jayawarddhana, founder of the Majapahit Empire. According to tradition, Jayanegara fell from the gate as a child, causing defects to his body. The name probably also means 'little monarch', as Jayanegara ascended to the throne at a young age. Historian connect this gate with Çrenggapura (Çri Ranggapura) or Kapopongan of Antawulan (Trowulan), the shrine mentioned in Nagarakertagama as the dharma place (holy compound) dedicated to King Jayanegara during his death on 1328. Admission to Candi Bajang Ratu is IDR 3,000. If you have come by car, parking is IDR 5,000.
Candi Wringin Lawang is located a short distance south of Indonesian National Route 15 at Jatipasar village. The name in Javanese means 'The Banyan Tree Gate'. The grand gate portals are made from red brick, with a base of 13 x 11 metres and a height of 15.5 metres, and date from the 14th century. The gate is of the 'Candi Bentar' or split gateway type, a structure which may have appeared during the Majapahit era. It is one of the oldest and the largest surviving 'Candi Bentar' dated from Majapahit era. The 'Candi Bentar' took shape of typical Majapahit temple structure – consists of three parts; foot, body and tall roof – evenly split into two mirroring structures to make a passage in the center for people to walk through. This type of split gate has no doors and provides no real defensive purpose but narrowing the passage. It was probably only serve the ceremonial and aesthetic purpose, to create the sense of grandeur, before entering the next compound. Most historians agree that this structure is the gate of an important compound in the Majapahit capital. Speculations concerning the original function of this majestic gateway have led to various suggestions, a popular one being that it was the entrance to the residence of Gajah Mada. As of 8 August 2015, admission to Wringin Lawang Gate was a voluntary contribution because the ticket booth was under construction at time of visit. If you have come by car, parking is IDR 5,000.
Candi Brahu in the Bejijong village is the sole surviving structure of what was once a cluster of historic buildings. According to popular folk belief, it was in the vicinity of Candi Brahu that the cremation ceremonies for the first four Majapahit rulers were carried out. This tradition, while difficult to prove, is supported in part by material evidence, which suggests that the monument once served as a royal mortuary shrine. The royal personage to whom the building was dedicated remains unclear. The ruin of Candi Gentong lies nearby. Candi Brahu has been determined to be a Buddhist structure. At the top of the structure was a huge stupa, which no longer survives. The temple is surrounded by a beautiful garden and bushes sculpted into miniature stupas. You can see majapahit fruit trees (from which the kingdom is said to have derived its name) in the compound. There is a working well which dates back from the Majapahit era; and its waters are said to have magical properties. Admission to Candi Brahu is IDR 3,000. If you have come by car, parking is IDR 5,000.
The Islamic tomb of Champa Princess is believed to be the tomb of a Majapahit king's consort. According to local traditions, she is said to have married one of the last of the Majapahit kings and to have converted him to Islam before her death in 1448.
Segaran Pool is a large rectangular pool 800 x 500 metres in size. The name 'Segaran' originated from the word 'segara' in Javanese which means 'sea', probably based on the local suggestion that the large pool is the miniature of the sea. Surrounding the water basin is a rectangular wall made of red brick. The brick pool structure was discovered in 1926 by Henri Maclaine Pont; at that time the pool was covered in dirt and mud. Reconstruction took place some years later and now Segaran pool functions as a recreational pool and fishing pond. The brick structure originated from the 14th–15th century Majapahit era. The actual function of the pool is unknown. A study suggested that the pool probably served various functions, but mainly the as the city reservoir, the source of fresh water essential for high density urban area, especially during the dry season. Another popular local belief is that the pool was used as the bathing place and as a swimming pool to train Majapahit troops, and as recreational pool for Majapahit royalty to entertain envoys and guests.
Candi Menak Jingga is a ruined structure within the vicinity with the base still lies buried underground. Excavation still on the progress. The structure is made from carved andesite stone on outer layer with red brick in inner layer. The most exciting feature of this structure is the parts contained ornaments (probably roof part) identified as Qilin, a Chinese mythical creature. This might suggested a strong cultural relationship with China especially during Ming Dynasty. The local tradition linked this site with the pavilion of Queen Kencana Wungu, the Majapahit queen from the tales of Damarwulan and Menak Jingga.
Umpak are stones that formed the base for wooden pillars, which were probably part of wooden building. The organic material has decayed and only the stone base remains.
Troloyo hamlet is a numerous Islamic tombstones that have been discovered during the archaeological progress, the majority of which date from between 1350 and 1478.
Other sites that can be visited in the Trowulan area include:
Pendopo Agung Trowulan is a large pavilion/hall (pendopo) built in traditional Javanese style in late 1960s/early 1970s at the site which Gajah Mada, a 14th-century Prime Minister (Mahapatih) of the Majapahit Empire, is said to have taken the Palapa oath (Sumpah Palapa). There is a relief carving at the back of the pendopo, depicting the history of the Majapahit Kingdom. Near the entrance, is a bust of Gajah Mada and a statue of Brawijaya V, last Majapahit king. Admission and parking are free.
Maha Vihara Mojopahit is a Buddhist Centre with a large Sleeping Buddha in the grounds. Measuring 22 metres long and 4.5 metres high, this Sleeping Buddha is the largest in Indonesia. Relief carvings at the base of the Sleeping Buddha depict events in Gautama Buddha's life. Further relief carvings of Gautama Buddha's life can be found on the outer wall of the main hall. The main hall is built in traditional Javanese style and houses three altars for devotions. There is a Buddhist library, miniature model of Borobudur and other Hindu-Buddhist statues in the grounds. Admission to Maha Vihara Mojopahit is IDR 2,000 (you will be approached as you walk into the grounds) and parking is another IDR 2,000.
In the archaeological site of Truwolan lies a museum which holds numerous statues and artifacts which were discovered in the site with an entrance fee of RP. 3,000, it is advisable not to miss this museum during your visit to Trowulan. The site is basically a large park with few monuments scattered around which is good to be explored and appreciated if you are into Javanese culture.
There are numerous warung (small restaurants) and vendors along the route. Popular dishes include Bakso, Es Degan and various Javenese dishes. By the Troloyo Grave and Pendopo Agung there are numerous Pentol sellers.
Most of the candi are situated in beautifully kept grounds which are perfect for a picnic.
If you're thinking of anything alcoholic you may need to make a 50 km journey to Alfamart or Indomaret. For something a little more innocent try es degan (sweetened young coconut juice) or cheap (Rp. 1000!) ice cream.