Blitar is a small, friendly town where Soekarno, Indonesia’s first president who proclaimed the independence of this country, was born and buried. It is also the home of many of the remains of the Majapahit Kingdom hundreds of years ago, as well as some beautiful, unspoilt beaches in its surrounding. The road from Malang to Blitar is bordered by beautiful rice fields and countryside sceneries.
Located on the lower slopes of Mount Kelod, around 20 km north of Blitar, the Hindu temples at Penataran are the largest, most important and intact archaeological remains inherited from the golden eras of the Majapahit Kingdom during the reign of King Hayam Wuruk. They represent the finest examples of East Javanese architecture and sculptures. Known in ancient literature and inscriptions as Palah, these temples appear to have undergone continuous construction for some 2.5 centuries. Its importance can be witnessed further by the regular visits of King Hayam Wuruk of Majapahit, as mentioned in the Negarakertagama. Even though Penataran dates back to at least the reign of King Srengga of Kediri at the end of the 12th century, the remains which we see today are almost entirely the work of Majapahit architects and builders. Inscriptions discovered at the site reveal dates equivalent to A.D. 1197, 1319, 1320, 1323, 1347, 1373, 1375, 1379, 1415, and 1454. The on-site museum contains an impressive collection of statuaries taken from the complex.
Located on the way from Malang to Blitar, Candi Sawentar is built underground with an architecture and design that has some similarities to the temples in Champa or Vietnam. Unlike many of the larger and more famous temples, this temple is surrounded by a verdant tropical setting, and can only be reached by following a narrow path passing a small traditional village. A tentative date from around the early to mid 13th century has been assigned to this temple. The base of the temple lies several meters below the present ground level, a result of having been buried under a mass of lava, presumably from an eruption of nearby volcanic Mount Kelud.
The Tomb of Soekarno & Istana Gebang
Approximately two kilometers from Blitar an elaborate monument covers the place where former president Soekarno is buried in 1970. Soekarno, affectionately referred to as Bung Karno, is seen by many as the “father of Indonesia”, although he was only reinstated as a national hero in 1978 by the Soeharto regime. Pilgrims come to worship Soekarno, and his grave is more popular than ever.
The Gebang Palace or Istana Gebang is a charming Javanese house where Soekarno spent his childhood before he moved to Surabaya to study. The presidential palace vividly showcases his lifetime; photos and memorabilia line the front sitting room, and you can see Soekarno’s bedroom and his old Mercedes in the garage, a former state car. This palace is still owned and maintained by Soekarno’s sister, Soekarmini. A spacious hall inside the palace is mostly used by local people for rehearsing and performing traditional dances. A huge memorial library attributed to Sukarno displays numerous photographs of his reign. A commemoration is held every June 21, the day he died, to pay tribute to Soekarno and his contributions to the nation.
Petilasan Rambut Monte
Off the beaten path of Blitar, located in Krisik Village, Gandusari district, Rambut Monte was once a sacred temple in Majapahit era. The historic site is featuring a large lake-fed pool that swarms with hundreds of rare fish and is sanctified by the local residentsOff the beaten path of Blitar, located in Krisik Village, Gandusari district, Rambut Monte was once a sacred temple in Majapahit era. The historic site is featuring a large lake-fed pool that swarms with hundreds of rare fish and is sanctified by the local residents.
One should not miss a chance to explore the magnificent underground river at Cave Embultuk when visiting Blitar. Enjoy a 1.5-km walk and swim under the huge cave dome ornamented by fantastic natural stalagmite lit by the ‘petromak’, Javanese traditional oil lamp.
The southcoast of Blitar has some beautiful beaches. The easiest to reach is Tambakrejo, a small fishing village with a beautiful sweeping sandy bay and clear blue water, which despite the surf is safe for swimming. The road to this beach offers magnificent sceneries of teak forests, valleys, rivers and old traditional Javanese houses. Enjoy a quiet and peaceful place with fantastic views of the Indian Ocean. Combine this with a visit to the ruins at Penataran and this corner of Java might be an off-the-beaten-track highlight of your trip to Blitar.
Located 45 km north of Blitar, Mount Kelud is known for its phenomenal lava dome that rises above the surface of its steaming green crater lake. The dome first appeared in October 2007 when the volcano suddenly became more active. The natural phenomenon is definitely worth to be seen up-close. Rising 1,731 meters above sea level, the new dome of Kelud comprises of thousands of tons of rock fresh from the earth’s belly which can be seen atop the volcano, increasing its height to almost equal that of the larger, surrounding mountain tops. The color of the crater changes depending on the temperature of the magma, sometimes it is bright green, and sometimes it is dark grey or yellowish. The sulphur found in the crater is known for curing skin diseases and rheumatism. The road to Mount Kelud offers beautiful Javanese countryside sceneries that will take your breath away. At either side of the road one can see fields with pineapple, papaya, coffee and clove as the main commodities of the locals and attraction for visitors.
Natural Rainforest and the Pacuh Spring
Located 12 km from Blitar is the natural rainforest with hundreds-years-old tropical trees and the Pacuh Spring. There is a natural pond inside the forest that is considered sacred by the locals.