Friday, June 19, 2009

Candi Sumberawan: Little guardian of the springs

The mountainous heartland of East Java, once the seats of the Kediri and Singasari kingdoms, is dotted with numerous temples.

Slender-bodied with high, tiered roofs and decorated in beautiful relief work, most of East Java's temples reflect a syncretism between Hinduism and Buddhism.

But Candi Sumberawan, which takes the form of a stupa, is an exception, as it is the only temple in East Java that is purely Buddhist.

Though diminutive in size compared with the mighty Borobudur in Central Java, its philosophical weight and its significance with regard to water preservation makes it stand out across space and time.

Located at the foot of Mt Arjuna, in the village of Tejasari in Singasari district, the stupa temple lies in the shadow of lush green hills.

A walk along a path some 200 meters long takes the visitor to the secluded site of this ancient temple. Farmers working in the rice fields interspersed with bamboo grooves make for a picturesque scene, and an irrigation canal running alongside the path, fed from a lake in the vicinity of Sumberawan, adds to the rustic country atmosphere.

It is believed that high grounds and water sources are the fav orite dwellings of the gods. And so it is regarded as fitting to build a sanctuary here, to honor the gods.

The people's respect of the sanctuaries also ensures that the water source at Sumberawan ("rawan" meaning lake) is preserved.

Sumberawan is another little piece in East Java's fascinating cultural heritage, but lack of general awareness is the main reason it receives public little attention.

Full article by Retno K. Djojo

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