Trowulan's sacred watering holes

The civilisation of Angkor is renowned for its water management system of canals, irrigation channels and reservoirs; but fewer know about similar capabilities found in east Java’s Majapahit. Candi Tikus and Kolam Segaran are two such monumental features found in Trowulan.

The peaceful pools of the ancients
The Jakarta Post, 20 February 2009

Candi Tikus reflects its master architect’s profound reflection and visualization of Mahameru, the serene abode of the gods, reconstructed in this corner of Trowulan. Hinduism holds that the abode of the gods sits high in the Himalayas and is surrounded by a vast pool of water that can bestow humans with eternal life. Thus, to combine architectural ambitions with philosophical visions, the architect crowned Candi Tikus with a miniature Hindu temple rising from the basin’s floor.

It goes without saying that before taking a bath in this terracotta pool, bathers would wade into the middle of the pool, place some flower offerings at the temple and offer their prayers to the gods, before cleansing themselves.

Another water-related historic treasure in Trowulan is Kolam Segaran. Located about 2 kilometers from Candi Tikus, and across the street of Museum Trowulan, the 6.5-hectare pool has a depth of 2.88 meters. It originally functioned as a water reservoir for irrigation, while also providing a recreation area for visiting dignitaries to cool off in the evening after enduring the hot sun over Mojokerto

Like other historical objects in Trowulan, Kolam Segaran is constructed of brick. Excavation work has uncovered channels for incoming and outgoing water, showing that the people of Majapahit were well aware of the importance of preserving and recycling water to ward off a water crisis.

Read about the water features of Trowulan in The peaceful pools of the ancients.

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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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