Karanganyar: Cetho Temple, Kethek Temple and Sukuh Temple


Sunrise view from Candi Cetho, Merapi, Merbabu and Sindoro Mountains range, Central Java, Indonesia

I’ve been missing Java a little bit since moving to Bali for a while, and I remembered this trip that I impulsively did before I went to Kathmandu again last year. I went with the boys, my ‘brothers’ and my son, Bhumy, to Candi Cetho and Candi Sukuh in Karanganyar, Central Java.

These two magnificent old temple have a special meaning to me since the very beginning of my first visit way back in 2005. Its located near Solo where my father lineage come from, its been an inspiration for my favourite theatre, Teater Garasi, in Jogjakarta for their masterpiece work of Watubatu. It has also been always a personal pilgrimage for my Javanese ancestors.

Their unique architecture style are one of my favourite in Java. It is somewhere reminding people with the style in Latin America. I am so glad that I could take Bhumy in this trip and also visiting a newly found temple behind Candi Cetho, Candi Kethek (The Monkey Temple).


Krisna praying in Kethek Temple, Central Java, Indonesia

IMG_0329The boys on top of Kethek Temple


Bhumy in the path to Kethek Temple, Karanganyar, Central Java

Its nice to see my son back on his barefoot and exploring the wilderness with his uncles. We rent a car for two days and head off to the temple. The small hotels are still nice like I remember. The feeling of the place stayed sacred after seven years even.

I took the bath in the Saraswati statue, where they have one of the best water spring in the area. It brings the memories of a personal silent time I had with the place years ago and somehow I awash all those memories that I need to let go. I felt home and quiet at peace.

IMG_0649  IMG_0638Cetho Temple, Karanganyar, Centra Java

While entering Sukuh temple, one of the local old guide explained to us a lot and even showing Bhumy a lot of things while we were there. The architecture of both temples are still a mystery for modern archeology. The way they made the statues and the way it constructed like a certain pyramid has somehow become a missing link in the typical Hindu-Buddhist period of Java. I had a long talk before with one of my professor and we agree that the theory of its age is more likely that its dated on the site latest renovation that happened in 17th century. This place feels ancient to me. Much much more ancient.


IMG_0678Candi Sukuh, Karanganyar, Central Java, Indonesia

The Hindu in Indonesia do regular ceremony and pilgrimage to both places. Also the Javanese that also still practicing Kejawen rituals. Both of these sites are still active, so please show your respect while you are exploring these areas especially when people are praying and practice certain rituals. Its as sacred as any places of worship.

between research and the search of spirituality

work has been marvelous and come with a lot of variety. i feel like i’m back to my old self again, which i’m glad. i felt even much better nowadays. at the end of this year i’m involved with the research: indian community history in jogja. the process can be found in this blog. it is a project involving etnohistori and kunci, the participant comes from diverse background and multi-discipline. it is also part of the parallel events of jogja biennal xi. etnohistori is a continuation of my study group back in my student days, now that all of us already growing up, we start to establish a community concerning on history and ethnography studies.

anyway, the process of the last two months research put myself in the “temple team”, along with my best mates JP, abmi and sandhy (a comic artist). we’re going to present the work later on the 3rd of january 2012.

it was a very interesting experience. founding temples in the most unexpected places. a hare krisna temple in the maguwo of east outer ring road of jogja. a saibaba center on top of a toko besi (hardware store) in bumijo. it is one of the weirdest and exciting experiences.

the top of hare krisna temple

the flower garland offerings

hare krisna altar

saibaba temple

the fire offerings

i believe by knowing other beliefs, experiencing their rituals and being involve with the people, we would gather more understanding about others and about ourselves. it is what we need in this kind of time :)