The only Buddhist monument in East Java

Before I get irate comments about Borobudur, which is in central Java, Candi Sumberawan is a lesser-known – and only – purely Buddhist monument in East Java. The collapsed stupa sits at the foot of Mount Arjuna, where the local villagers still attend to it.

Candi Sumberawan: Little guardian of the springs
Jakarta Post, 19 June 2009

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.


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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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