Journey to the Center of the Earth may be a utopian dream of mount climbers who also loves history. But it does not mean that ordinary people like us can only dream of climbing mountain and at the same time studying history. There is a divine place, around 60 kilometers from Surabaya, East Java and it is called Mount Penanggungan. People around the mountain believe that Penanggungan is a peak of Mahameru India. According to Tantu Pagelaran Book, once upon the Gods took Mahameru to be placed in Java because the island was unstable and need a majestic mountain to keep it steady. When the Gods lifted the mountain, along the way the cracks of it fell along Sumatra and Java creating Bukit Barisan and Pegunungan Kendeng. The secong biggest crack formed Mount Semeru and the peak became Mount Pawitran or Mount Penanggungan. Mount Penanggungan is located adjacent to other four mounts: Mount Bekel, Mount Gajahmungkur, Mount Kemuncup and Mount Salahklopo. They are known as Pancawali Krama (The Union of five main powers).
The myth is believed to be the reason why ancient Javanese royal family decided to built temple at its flanks. There are about 81 sites consists of monuments, sanctuaries, reliefs and statues, and sacred bathings. The lower part of Mount Penanggungan archaeological site is a bathing that looks like a temple where there is engraving estimated to be the year the site was built: 977-1511 AD. Of course the engraving was written in Sanskrit. It is the archaeologist team who translated it.
Mount Penanggungan sits on 1653 above sea level. It is a dormant stratovolcano because geologists said that its last eruption was around 200 AD.
Although Penanggungan site is a relatively new tourism destination, it is accessible enough because researchers from Surabaya University (Ubaya) regularly examine the place. Other No wonder that it takes years to rearrange the ruins scattered around the slope of the mountain. The ruins are even found at the top of the mountain. People from inter-related disciplines also actively research and take note of the site’s development. From Bali, you can go straight to Surabaya and then rent cars or public transportation to reach there.
Tourists, mostly domestics, usually go to the sacred bathing called Jolotundo to simply wash their feet or face. They believe that the water is good for healing various illnesses especially skin problems. The bathing was used by the royal family of Majapahit Kingdom to bath and conduct religious ritual. Hayam Wuruk, a famous king of Majapahit, even favorited this place, especially for its great view. In Negarakertagama, a literary work in Majapahit era, mentioned that Hayam Wuruk found the place along his way of a journey and since then, he became so fond of Penanggungan, especially Jolotundo spring. This site is breezy and cozy for refreshing. You can take pictures and learn about the culture around the site. It looks like a temple, with many statues and reliefs, and is surrounded with trees.
Another story for Jolotundo includes King Airlangga. King Udayana, his father, built the temple and bathing to celebrate the birth of Airlangga. After Airlangga was dethroned, he lived at Jolotundo to meditate.
There are also climbing tracks for you who choose more adventurous travel. The track is so steep that it is not recommended for beginers. In addition, the one and only spring is on the sacred bathing and there is no spring or even a single stream along the way to the peak. Therefore, you have sto save your water so that it is enough for the rest of the journey. It is also pretty pivotal to have good health and stamina to stay longer with minimum amount of water supply.
Without solid cooperation from all sides, it is impossible to do such a great task. There are several challenges to rebuild the heritage ruins. First is about deforestation. Fire becomes serious problem. Strong trees are needed to keep the earth stable and prevent erosion. The vulnerable location of several sites is threatened by unstable soil construction. The second one is vandalism by humans or visitors. They are often careless and usually make graffiti on the site’s artifacts. People who stealed statues and other artifacts know well that the artifacts have high economic value.
Apart from those challenges, people who concern about the existence of Mount Penanggungan sites are optimistic for the better conservation in the area. With more and more people get to know about the site, Mount Penaggungan will be a distinct tourist attraction. The government has open easier access to Mount Penanggungan, especially to the bathing site. There is also a museum to keep some artifacts and historical stories about Mount Penanggungan nearby.This museum is under development.
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