Cetho Temple, Greatness from 15th Century

Complex of Cetho Temple

In Javanese, cetho means clear. Hence, Cetho Temple or Candi Cetho could be a perfect place for travelers who are looking for clarity deep in their hearts. Cetho is one of the respected Hindu temples in Indonesia. It has been built since the end of Majapahit era in 15th century.

The location is in Cetho Village, Karanganyar Regency, Central Java Province. Until now, the local people who adheres Hindu or Kejawen still routinely practices worship here. You can smell fragrant of flowers and incense here, creating a nuance of mystical.

Located at 1,400 masl high on the slope of Mount Lawu, Cetho Temple can only be reached through a narrow, steep and winding asphalt road. But that anxiety would be paid off when you arrive at the temple complex. The cool mountain air and beautiful landscape will greet you a welcome. The archway stands gracefully, which reminds us of Bali.

The temple area is stretched on a vast terrace land. It was built at the end of Majapahit Kingdom under the rule of King Brawijaya V. On one of the terraces, there are structured stones with sun-shaped sculpture depicting Surya Majapahit, a symbol of Majapahit Kingdom.

Cetho Temple was first discovered as a ruin with 14 staircase terraces, almost as Candi Barong in Yogyakarta. Among them, nine had been restored. As a place to worship Deity Shiva, the temple is decorated with phallus statues, a symbol of Shiva himself. There are also some statues of King Brawijaya V and his advisors.

Saraswati statue

On half of our way, we took a left turn then climbed to the right. We arrived at a castle that looked like a garden. The main building is an open field stone floor. A pond with a statue of Goddess Sarasvati stands majestically on it.

With a backdrop of pine trees, the statue of the Goddess of Science exudes such magical aura. On the right of the pond, there is Pundi Sari spring that functioned as a place for sanctification of self before worshiping.

We continued our way up and arrived at the top terrace. There lies the most sacred worship place in a trapezoid-shape. Quiet atmosphere is required to respect the worshippers. One of the statues is the phallus statue, which people worship as an expression of gratitude and hope for abundant prosperity and fertility.

In Cetho Temple, you may feel the religious nuance and appreciate the greatness of the ancestors.

  • Written and photos by Ineke Trimulyani, a copywriter
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