Blitar Off The Beaten Path Tips by theo1006
Blitar Off The Beaten Path: 10 reviews and 37 photos
Trisula monument at Bakung
Trisula means 'trident'. The Trisula Monument at Bakung commemorates the "cooperation between Brawijaya units and other army forces, the civil government and the people resulting in the eradication of attempts of the G.30.S/PKI to recompose its forces opposing the Republic of Indonesia".
The text refers to an army operation in the early years of Suharto's dictatorship, in June and July 1968. On one of the marble plaques is said further:
"Through this historic monument may the spirit all people of Indonesia be aroused and be rooted in their souls to
* perseveringly uphold the purity of Pancasila (i.e. the state philosophy).
* perseveringly destroy the remnants of communism that wish to return to Indonesian soil.
The barbarism of communism at the Madiun affair in 1948 and the G.30.S/PKI affair in 1965 have resulted in many victims and great disasters for our beloved state and people of Indonesia."
The reality was different. After the bloody suppression of the communist party in 1965 and 1966 - which is estimated to have taken the lives of a half to one million people and destroyed the lives of many more who were imprisoned, sacked and ostracised - some of these hunted people had succeeded in hiding in the limestone hills south of Blitar. At the time the region was still sparsely populated and relatively inaccessable. Moreover Blitar regency had been a power base of the PKI, the party had an absolute majority in the regional parliament up to the time it was made illegal by Suharto.
So the army was determined to hunt these people down, at the same time intimidating the local population who sympathized with them into betraying them. The operation was called Trisula to stress that it was three-pronged: the people and the civil government 'cooperated' with the army.
From the testimony of one of the survivors, mrs Put Mu'inah (reference: http://dev.progind.net/modules/smartsection/item.php?itemid=241):
"On December 22, 1967, the army executed an operation in Krisik village(...). Then I together with local people hid in the forest, because at the time if they found a man considered a PKI sympathiser, he surely would be shot. (...) In the forest I hid in caves and moved at night. Our food consisted of leaf buds, and bananas if there were (...). On August 1968 I was caught in a cave by the 511 batallion; my thumbs were bound together behind my back. In the beginning in the forest there were many fugutives with me, but gradually they disappeared, they were caught or they were killed. Also before I was caught I often hid in Bultuk cave (...). Bultuk Cave is historic, people used it to hide their food reserves, because during Operation Trisula in south Blitar many army individuals used to rob them. Even when they saw pretty girls or widows they were not above raping them. For example what happened in Ngleduk village, Surowadang district, where several army individuals brutally raped some girls and widows, then killed them at Kemiri hill. (...) Also it once happened that the whole population of five villages were rounded up, including women and children, and herded together on an open field in sun and rain without giving them food."
After Suharto's demise this shameful monument had deteriorated, but recently it has been restored including the wood-and-bamboo pesanggrahan (district guest house). Indonesia has yet to face the darker pages in its history.
Directions: At the centre of Bakung village, a district capital, 20 km south-west of Blitar. Follow directions to Tambakrejo beach, but at Suruhwadang turn west to Bakung. Or, if you have visited Embultuk cave, follow the signs from there.
Check dam near Semen
It is the longer route from Blitar to Malang, but very scenic: the route north from Wlingi between Kelud volcano and Kawi and Butak mountains.
At one point - near Semen - we saw a long check dam, built to stop lahar streams down from the mountain side.
The historic site Rambut Monte lies at about 16 km along this road. There is a candi not much more than a heap of stones. Next toit is a lakewith crystal clear water, fed by a spring. The source must be the reason why the temple was built here in the Majapahit era. There are big fish in the pool which are considered sacred.
One is not allowed to swim with the fish, but there is a swimming pool if you feel like it - the pool sides are slippery and the bottom muddy!
Address: Krisik village, Gandusari district, Blitar regency.
Directions: The site lies in the north-eastern corner of Blitar regency. From Blitar go east to Wlingi, then take the road north to Selorejo and Batu. Krisik village is 15 along this road, at Krisik village turn right for about 500 m.
Helen posing at Wediombo beach
There are several good sandy beaches south of Blitar, some popular, some only recently accessable. We set out to visit another one, Serang beach. But on the way we saw a small sign "Pantai Pasir Putih" (White Sand Beach) and decided to try and go there.
It turned out that the last 5 km of the road to the beach had only recently been improved. Two "tracks" of concrete make for smooth driving with a car, but you only have to hope that you don' t meet another car. And don't let your tires get off the track! It happened to us at a spot where the gutter between the tracks was too deep and it cost us a tire! See our Wediombo travelogue for another event on the road.
But the beach - also known as Wediombo beach - is worth the trip. It lies in a bay sheltered from the ocean by a row of rocky islands. Still clean and quit, perhaps on weekends some local visitors only. You have to bring your own picnic, we saw only an empty food stall.
At low tide coral banks fall bare, the swimming is best at high tide (noon). Don't go in the water if you cannot swim, because the bank is pretty steep. But if you can swim the surf is safe enough.
Address: Sumbersih villiage, Panggungrejo district, Blitar regency.
Directions: Leave Blitar town due south via Jalan Cemara (direction Tulungagung). At 5 km turn left across the bridge instead of right to Tulungagung. After another half km turn left direction Serang and follow the signs to Serang. At 20 km turn right, at the fork at 30 km see the small sign pointing left. 8 km from the fork you drive through Sumbersih village, follow the signs for another 8 km along the two-track concrete road. Altogether 45 km.
Restored Candi Sawentar
Candi Sawentar – locally also referred to as Candi Cungkup - was discovered in 1915. The temple now stands in a dugout, the base had been covered by sand from Kelud volcano. It was restored to it's present condition in 1992-3. The top could not be reconstructed, an attempt stands at the side.
The temple is remarkably devoid of sculptures, it looks as if it was left half finished. A pair of wooden doors originally closed the entrance to the inner chamber, as can be seen from the bearings in the threshold. A seal on the ceiling inside proves that Candi Sawentar was built in the Majapahit era, a more precise dating has been impossible. The function of the temple is supposed to have been as a place of worship. Indeed, in our time followers of the Hindu religion still come here to pray.
These particulars were provided by the warden, mr Sunarno. From the similarity of Candi Sawentar with Candi Kidal near Malang, it may also be inferred that Candi Sawentar was built during the Singhasari dynasty, preceding Majapahit.
Address: Sawentar village, Garum district, Blitar regency.
Directions: Northeast to Garum 7 km. Past Garum centre near the petrol station an almost unreadable signboard “Candi Sawentar” points south (direction Lodoyo). 2.5 km along this road you find the temple.
Guarded stairs to Candi Gambar Wetan
The remains of this temple are located in Gambar Wetan plantation on the southern slopes of Kelud Volcano. The drive over here and the views are great. The remains of the temple itself are in a sorry condition.
The road to the plantation leads across a checkdam in a river built to stop lahar streams from Kelud volcano. Trucks ride on and off fetching sand from the river bed for building purposes. From the temple you have a view down on the trucks in the river bed.
The temple grounds are well maintained, you have to walk a flight of stairs and a garden path past two dwarapala guardian statues. But of the temple only the base remains, and seems to have been reassembled somewhat haphazardly.
Address: Gambar Wetan plantation, Nglegok village, Blitar regency.
Directions: Leave Blitar along the road north past Makam Bung Karno direction Penataran. Just in front of the porch and paying booth for Penataran Tourist Area take the road to your right; there is a signboard here pointing to Candi Gambar Wetan. At Pacuh hamlet, 4 km from the turnoff, turn left into an earthen road. You meet many sand trucks here. Do not follow these into the river, but turn left after almost 1 km across a check dam. Past the dam you enter the plantation. There is a security post at 600 m into the plantation; here turn right. After 1.7 km along this earth road you arrive.
Entrance to Candi Simping compound
The first king of Majapahit, Raden Wijaya, died in 1309 AD. As was the custom at the time, a temple was inaugurated 12 years after his demise, to celebrate his having become a god. Candi Simping is known to be this temple, as it is mentioned in the chronicals Negarakertagama. When the fourth king, Hayam Wuruk (1350-1389) visited the site in 1363 AD, the temple was already damaged by an earthquake. The chronicals state that Hayam Wuruk had the temple restored.
However, today Candi Simping is beyond repair, only the base remains. Two big kala heads stand aside in the compound together with a lot of miscellaneous parts, and an attempt to reconstruct the top.
Sumberjati village, Surahwadang district, Blitar regency.
Leave Blitar going south along Jalan Cemara. After 5 km take the road left across a bridge direction Tambakrejo. Another 3 km at the petrol station take the road left. AT 500 m along this road you find the temple at your left.
Pangi Beach, east side
Pangi Beach is less frequented than Tambakrejo Beach, we found it by accident. When we were at Embultuk Cave, we saw a small sign pointing to Pangi Beach, along a footpath across the river from the cave. Villagers said it was a walk of an hour and advised to drive by road. "From Embultuk Cave turn right at every surfaced road." After 4 km going in this manner the road ended at a small warung with motorbike parking. Here a footpath led down across a river and after a couple of 100 m we reached the beach. We saw motorbikes at the beach, so we think the path from Embultuk Cave is passable for motorbikes.
Pangi Beach turned out to be a smaller and uninhabited version of Tambakrejo Beach: a bay of only a couple of 100 m wide and a small river mouth. A bonus: there is a sweet water bathing place for if you want to shower after swimming in the sea.
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