The Mystical Singhasari Temple & Dvarapala Statue

Singhasari temple circa 1907.
Singhasari temple was built during the period of Singhasari kingdom, first half of the 13th century, and considered a great examples of Hindu-Javanese arts. It mark the gradual transformation of Hindu architecture into Javanese forms and also reflect the increasing syncretism of Hinduism and Buddhism.
This temple was mentioned in Javanese poem Nagarakretagama & Gajah Mada inscription dated 1351, discovered in the temple’s yard. According to these sources, the temple is the funerary temple of the last king Kertanagara (ruled 1268 — 1292), who was assassinated in 1292 by Jayakatwang of Gelang-gelang. The temple’s unfinished state can be examined from the incomplete kala head that is seen over its lower entrance

Archaeologists tell us that the keraton (palace) of the Singhasari kingdom was once located in the vicinity, and a major ancient settlement spread out around it. In its heyday this area would have been home to at least 8 temples and an alun-alun (town square) as well as the gateways, courtyards and pavilions of the Singhasari keraton itself. This was the nerve centre of a kingdom that had vassals as far away as Kalimantan and the Malukus (Spice Islands), and at its peak it had even caught the attention of Kublai Khan, the ruler of the Yuan Dynasty in China. Yet all that remains of this royal complex today is Candi Singhasari and a couple of giant dwarapala (dwarf-guardian) statues. Nonetheless, this sense of vanished grandeur is one of the things which makes Candi Singosari a compelling attraction; it evokes thoughts of all the treasures that have been lost.

Significant features of the temple includes:
● A pair of colossal Dvarapalas giant monolith statue as the guardian of Singhasari royal cemeteries
● A well-carved Kala on the west upper face
● A large original statue of Shiva as Batara Guru (or, perhaps, Shiva as Agastya) in the lower southern cellar.

European woman in Singhasari temple 1922.
Fortunately, there remain a few traces of statuary at the site to at least hint at its original richness. In the main cell of the temple, there is a stone yoni, which is a reminder of the Hindu aspect of Singhasari’s complex religious identity. More unusual than this is a statue of Shiva in one of the side chambers. In this manifestation, he is all but indistinguishable from Agastya, who was another popular figure during this era. With his long beard and exposed pot belly, the statue offers a rather homely view of the deity. Perhaps even more appealing are the beautiful, long-stemmed lotus blossoms which are depicted alongside him. This image of Shiva and the lotus blossoms has been widely copied and borrowed in East Java. Yet lovely as it is, it pales in comparison to some of what has been shipped overseas. We were left wondering if the pillaged Singhasari sculptures would ever find their way back to East Java, helping to lift the profile of this little-visited but intriguing Singhasari temples.

Excursion to Singhasari Temple & Dvarapala Statue is available when you visit Hotel Tugu Malang.