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Over 700 years ago, there stood a great empire, its capital located on the island of Java. An empire so vast and strong, it covered most of Southeast Asia, and stood for hundreds of years. An empire we learn of in history books, yet whose greatness we cannot quite fathom. Little physical evidence of this eminent empire remain, making its existence seem almost fictional. This is the Majapahit Empire.
Majapahit ruled over a large part of this region from Java to Sumatra, the Malay Peninsula, Kalimantan and part of Indonesia’s eastern islands from 1293 to the 1500s. The Hindu-Buddhist Majapahit kingdom emerged after the fall of the powerful Singosari kingdom, located also in present day East Java.
Trowulan is a district in the province of East Java, where lies Indonesia’s only site of what is said to be the ruins of the Great Majapahit Empire. Surrounded by thousands of archaeological remains, Trowulan is regarded as the possible site of the capital city of the Majapahit Empire.
Travelling to this significant place is more than just a vacation, but a journey through the history of a nation. Much can be discovered in Trowulan about the civilization during the Majapahit period, including the government system, trade, foreign affairs, technology, architecture, agriculture, handicraft and art.
The Majapahit Kingdom was established in 1293 AD, after the fall of the Singosari Kingdom. Raden Wijaya was the founder and first king of the Majapahit Empire, who reigned until 1309 AD. The kingdom reached its “Golden Age” under the rule of King Hayam Wuruk and his Prime Minister Gajah Mada, who pledged an oath to unite the archipelago. This was achieved through the organization of local and regional trade networks of rice crops, spices, ceramics and textiles. This also led to the unifying of religions, showing Majapahit as a multicultural nation, with people of various faiths living in harmony.
Trowulan was first discovered in 1817 by Sir Stamford Raffles, who described it as ruins of temples scattered about for miles, though most of the site was then covered in dense teak forest. So fascinated by the site, Raffles later referred to it as “The Pride of Java.” Later aerial photographs showed the city engraved with a network of canals running in straight lines across the city, used for drainage as well as water supply.
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Use a motorcycle taxi or rent a car to get around, as there is no nearby public transportation.
Bring cool clothes and enough drinking water, as the weather can be quite hot.
Purchase a book about the Majapahit history to fully understand what you are seeing.
A professional guide can be provided by the museum upon request.
Archaeological Museum Mojokerto
Jl. Jend. A. Yani No. 14, Mojokerto
Archaeological Museum Trowulan
Jl. Raya Trowulan 13, Mojokerto, Tel: (0321) 61362
Trowulan lies just 60 km southwest from Surabaya, Indonesia’s second largest city. Surabaya has available international flights from Hong Kong, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Singapore. Domestic flights are available from most cities around Indonesia.
From Surabaya, simply hire a car direct to Trowulan, or take a bus to Mojokerto and continue by rickshaw or ojek, (motorcycle taxi.)