ancient wonders of Indonesia’s royal past and visit the remains of the
once great Majapahit kingdom. Founded by Singosari prince Vijaya in
1294, the Majapahit kingdom became the most powerful kingdom in the
history of Indonesia, covering territories even beyond present day
Indonesia. The remains of the royal court are today scattered over a
large area around the village of Trowulan in East Java.
the reign of Singosari’s former king Kertanegara, a Chinese Mongol fleet
was sent to Java to force Singosari to submit allegiance to China.
Kertanegara responded by cutting off the ear of the Chinese emissary.
Enraged, when Chinese emperor Kublai Khan heard this he commanded his
fleet to avenge on Singosari. Unknown to them, King Kertanegara had
already been slain, defeated by Jayakatwang of the kingdom of Kediri.
regain the throne, prince Vijaya of Singosari joined the Chinese fleet
to remove the new king from the Singosari throne. Upon this victory,
however, Vijaya turned around and ousted the Chinese fleet from Java.
(see also the Singosari temple). Vijaya then established his new kingdom
around the village of Trowulan and named it Majapahit. During the
following two centuries, up until the early 15th century, Majapahit
expanded to become the most powerful kingdom in this archipelago notably
under King Hayam Wuruk and his Prime Minister Gajah Mada.
around the remains of the old capital and you will see what was once a
great and glorious city. At the peak of its power, the Majapahit kingdom
ruled an enormous area, receiving tributes from most of the regions
that encompass present day Indonesia as well as areas in what are today
Vietnam and the Philippines.
During the golden period of the
Majapahit empire many literary works were produced. These include the
famous Negarakertagama poem by Prapancha. The work venerates the king
and describes how royal divinity permeates the world cleansing it of
In the Majapahit era, Hinduism and Buddism were the dominant religious. The kingdom was based on the principle of bhinneka tunggal ika
¬– unity in diversity. This motto preaches tolerance between the
Buddhist and Hindu faiths. This spirit of tolerance became a defining
feature of the Majapahit kingdom. Today the motto: bhinneka tunggal ika – unity in diversity is adopted as the motto of the modern Republic of Indonesia.
dominant religion of the kingdom was a hybrid of Hinduism with worship
of the deities Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma, - and Buddhism. However
Islam, which entered Java in this era, was also tolerated. Ancient
Koranic burial inscriptions suggest that Javanese Muslims resided within
the area of the kingdom.
The kingdom reached the height of it’s
power and influence under the leadership of the Prime Minister Gajah
Mada during the reign of king Hayam Wurk. Gajah Mada is considered one
of Indonesia’s greatest heroes. Until his death in 1364, he suceeded in
spreading the power and influence of Majapahit throughout the
archipelogo. Gajah Mada is believed to have developed his own oath of
allegience, the Sumpah Palapa, which vowed to unite the archipelogo.
empire came to an abrupt end possibly in 1478 when the north coast
power of Demak invaded. This forced the Majapahit elite to flee to Bali.
is possible to spend the whole day in Trowulan wandering around the old
temple ruins. Or, if the heat is too much, try a becak or a car to
explore the area. The most popular ruins include the gateway of Bajang
Ratu and the Tikus Temple (Queens’ bath). The Troloyo Cemetery has the
oldest Muslim grave found in Java dating back to 1376 AD
the Trowulan Museum and you will see superb examples of Majapahit
sculpture and pottery. The enormous statue of Kediri’s King
Airlangga-as-Vishnu on a giant garuda is one of the highlights of the
Trowulan is 60km from Surabaya and can be visited as a day trip from the city.