The Madjapahit Dynasty based in and around East Java provincy, began the foundations of an empire that was to dominate the entire Indonesian archipelago, the Malay peninsula and part of the Philippines, also establishing profitable trade relations with China, Cambodia, Siam, Burma and Vietnam.
As power in Central Java declined in the 10-th century, powerful kingdoms rose in East Java to fill the power vacuum. Between the year 1055 and 1222, the kingdom of Kediri prospered and expanded. During the reign of King Erlangga both East Java and Bali enjoyed a lucrative trade with the surrounding islands, directly relating to a period of artistic advancement and mastery. Parts of the Mahabarata epic were translated and re-interpreted to conform closer to an East Javanese philosophy and view of life, and it was from this era that East Java inherited much of its treasure of temple art.
Little of the Majapahit Empire's former glory still stands in East Java, however, with the exception of temple ruins and some archeological discoveries. Nevertheless, East Java has a variety of attractions, ranging from temple sites to beautiful, unspoiled beaches, awesome volcanoes, picturesque highland lakes, colorful marine gardens and fantastic wildlife reserves. Magnificent mountain scenery includes the crater and legendary sea of sand at Mount Bromo, the "sulphur mountain" of Welirang and the rugged Ijen Plateau. The island of Madura, famous for its bull races, is also part of the province and has its own traditions and even a different language.
The provincial capital, Surabaya is second in size, population and commerce only to Jakarta. It is also the most industrialized province in the nation with a strong economy based on agriculture, fishery, oil industries, coffee, mangoes and apples.
The province is efficiently connected to the rest of Java by good roads, regular trains, and air services between Surabaya and other major cities in the country including Denpasar on Bali, which is only half an hour's flight away, and Mataram in Lombok.
PLACE OF INTEREST
A booming city of over 3 million, Surabaya offers many good hotels, shopping centres and entertainment. Its well stocked zoological garden include several species of Indonesian fauna like "orang utan", komodo dragon and a collection of nocturnal animals. Kalimas is an old traditional harbour for the world famous Bugis schooner "pinisi" which sailed the Indonesia seas for hundreds of years. At present those praus can still be seen in their former glory with big colourful sails.
Mpu Tantular Museum, well-stocked with archaeological art and cultural items from prehistoric times until independence.
Across the Strait Madura, half an hour by ferry from Surabaya is the island of Madura, famous for its unique bull races held each year after harvest season.
For groups, the races can be arranged on request. The Regional Tourism Offices of East Java provides a monthly calendar of events of the races.
Trowulan - Pandaan - Tretes
The surroundings of Trowulan village is believed to be the site of the ancient capital of Majapahit. Archaeological excavations in the area have recovered many terracotta ornaments, statues, pottery and stone carvings which are displayed at the Trowulan Museum. The map in the museum is a guide to nearby sites of historical interest.
The Candra Wilwatika open-air theatre in Pandaan, 45 km south of Surabaya presents classical East Javanese ballet performances on each full moon night from June to November The performances are based either on the Ramayana stories or East Java's legends and folklore. The backdrop of Mt. Pananggungan gives the performances an enchanting experience.
Up to ten km from Chandra Wilwatika is Tretes, one of the most beautiful mountain resorts of East Java. Hotels and roads cling to the hillside with swimming pools for a dip in the cool climate. Horses are also available for hire. Camping ground is available near the Kakek Bodo waterfall.
Between Surabaya and Malang is the town of Singosari where remnants of the early 13th century Singosari Kingdom include a temple and two gigantic statues of guardians to what many believed to be the main gateway to the capital of the kingdom. Jago temple dates back to 1268, and is one of the most attractive temples in EastJava. Scenes from folktales as well as from the Mahabarata epic decorate the side panels.
Ninety km south of Surabaya lies Malang, one of the most attactive towns in Java. A strong sense of civic pride can be noticed from the well-maintained and painted becaks, the neat main square, buildings and streets. The cool climate is one reason why it is highly desirable among the East Javanese as a place to retire. Twenty km from Malang on the southern flank of Mt. Arjuna, are Selecta and Songgoriti, popular hill resorts with hot springs. The climate is cool and ( five km nearby) is Batu, famous for its apples and flowers. Sports facilities at Selecta include horseriding, swimming, and tennis.
Purwodadi Botanical Garden
Founded in 1941 for the study plants growing under relatively dry conditions, the Purwodadi gardens lie about 30 kms northeast of Malang just off the Surabaya-Malang main road on the lowest slopes of Mt. Arjuno at about 300 metres altitude. It covers an area of about 35 ha (212 acres).
Kidal temple, not far from Jago temple, was completed in 1260 to honour one of the kings, and is a gem of Singosari temple art. Located 120 km south west of Malang and 11 km North of Blitar, is Penataran temple in the Singosari-Majapahit temple complex, dating from the mid fourteenth century. Its structures are laid on a large and vast field. The temple terraces are decorated with Ramayana base reliefs. The main temple is well preserved.
Mount Kawi Fortune Hunting
A sages grave on mount Kawi near Malang,, has for decades enjoyed unrivaled fame among those who seek to increase their worldly blessings through pilgrimages, offerings, and meditations besides hard work.
Most of the pilgrims to Gunung Kawi are Chinese, but even to nonbelievers the place is worth a visit for its intensely Javanese atmosphere, with frequent wayang and gamelan performances and a quaint mixture of Javanese and Chinese influences.
The grave itself is built on a hilltop, but to its left and right of the long stairway is an assortment of sacred springs, Chinese houses of worship, flowers and souvenirs stalls and other interesting sights.
One of the most exciting experiences is watching the sun rise from the crest of the Bromo volcano which is a three-hour drive from Surabaya, followed by a pony ride from the village of Ngadisari over a sea of sand to the food of the volcano. Ascend the 50 steps to reach the rim.
On the vast expanse of sand, formerly a caldera, there are two volcanoes: the extinct Batok which is a perfect cone and the Bromo. Volcanic sulphur fumes. while during intense rumbling sounds the surrounding population who believes in the God of Bromo quickly brings offerings. The annual offering ceremony of Kasada is held on the 1 4th day of Kasada, the twelfth month in the Tenggerese calendar year.
In 1991 it was held on November 23-24. It is a colourful event where villagers from the surrounding areas bring their produce of sacrifice to the holy volcano.
Baluran National Park/Wildlife Reserve
Located at the eastern tip of East Java, just off the Surabaya - Banyuwangi mainroad, it is dry country-side of open forests and scrubland, bordered at the coast by marshes, swampy groves and white beaches. A landrover or jeep is perhaps the only vehicle that can stand the long hauls accross these rugged grassy plains. Here, the banteng wild ox, deer and birds can be photographed in their natural habitat.
A privately owned plantation with an elevation of 450-750 m above sea level, on the slope of Mt. Merapi covering a 2.500 acres of land producing coffee, rubber, cocoa and spices. Cloves begin as flowers on the clove tree, cinnamon is ground bark, pepper grown on vines and nutmeg like golf-ball size pears hanging on broad leafed trees, are to be seen. Touring the plantation is a trip through a vast, exotic spice machine process which ends with neat packages ready for export.
A famous wildlife reserve and feeding ground but of a smaller size than that of Baluran. Located in the forest of "Hutan Purwo", 81 km to the south of Banyuwangi. It is in possession of 700 wild buffaloes and varieties of other wild animals, all of which can be seen grazing in the late afternoon from the viewing tower.
13 km south of Sadengan on the coast with a beautiful beach view. A nice location to watch the sunset and a place where turtles lay eggs.
Sukamade Turtle Beach
78 km south of Banyuwangi with its deep turquoise wafer, 250kg sea turtles and a long beach, surrounded by vast cocoa, coffee and rubber plantations, are to be found here.
Meru Betiri Reserve
After a 30 km very rough road which crosses half a dozen rivers through dense jungle and a rubber plantation, you finally arrive here on the southeastern tip of the province, where the last of the
Javanese tigers had sought refuge. A hundred and fifty years ago Javanese tiger inhabited most of Java and was even considered a nuisance in some populated areas. But through the 1800s and early 1990s it was hunted mercilessly and its habitat destroyed by plantation builders. By the beginning of the Second World War it survived only in the most remote mountains and forests, and today, the last four or five live on the brink of extinction in a remote region.
The government and the World Wildlife Fund have mounted a determined effort to save the tigers and their environment. And to do so, the authorities are even prepared to relocate a few thousand humans. But Meru Betiri is not simply a tiger reserve. Wildlife of all kinds abounds, like black panthers, leopards and turtles.
Pasir Putih Beach, Situbondo
If you happen to be driving in a private car between Surabaya and Bali, this lovely beach may be worth visiting for a few hours or, if you prefer, an overnight stay to relax After driving long hours coming from either way. For you to en joy here is fishing, sailing, swimming, snorkeling, windsurfing, waterskiing or just simply : sunbathing. Good seafood is available at some beach-front restaurants where nearby small souvenirs are for sale. This place is suitable for transiting tourists, rather than a destination point.
Mount Ijen Crater
Not exactly the most accessible of all craters, this Ijen crater may become of great interest to the adventurous tourist. It is located far enough from Bali as well as from Surabaya, whereas an overnight stay is recommended either at Banyuwangi if ; coming from Bali or at Bondowoso if coming from Surabaya. The trip to the crater should start early in the morning the next day because road accessibility only gets you up to 14 km from the crater which you have to d on foot, and up-hill for that matter. Special about this crater is its wide gaping mouth having a diameter of 1 km, whereas its depth all the way to the bottom is 17 meters, where a turquoise lake is found with its impressive SL roundings.
Ponorogo is located southwest of Surabaya at a distance of 200 km. A bigger town closest to it is Madiun, which lies on the main highway between Surabaya and points west of it in Central Java. So, out of Madiun it would be a sidetrip to Ponorogo, if you care to witness the Festival Reyog, held here on the 17th of August each year, highlighting the area's traditional drama and dance. Otherwise you may want to visit Ngebel Lake nearby, whereas batiks and basketry of this region are also well-known.