Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by mumunmumun on 18 March 2014 • Destination
Candis were made as a place of prayer. It was the place where people met their maker, their source of life, and their reason of their existence. Candis were made from rocks to ensure their establishment through time because believing is something that will preserve forever, or that was what people used to believe. Candis were also meticulously and artistically carved as a sign of the highest appreciation. It was made to be beautiful and to last. With this in mind, I was both bewildered and honored to have this unusual experience oh having dinner at Candi Penataran.
Dinner at a candi. I know, right?!
It was a perfect sunset as the blue sky turned partially pink coming in to dusk. As the night started to roll in, Candi Panataran was slowly lit with torches. A wooden picnic table was set on one side of the park, complete with well thought-out placemats, cutlery, and candles. A few wooden Javanese statues decorated the dining area. In one corner, a flute player serenaded a Javanese tune. It was a very romantic set indeed. I was with Vira. D’oh! I’m sure Vira was ‘D’oh’-ing herself being with me.
This was our worthy and main reason to spontaneously visit Tugu Group’s property in Blitar. The idea of having a candi turned into a private dining area and provided authentic cuisines can not be missed and, in our case, must be chased. As Indonesians, candis have been always a part of our lives. We read them in our storybooks, we visit them during visiting hours, and we proudly tell about them to the world. It’s one of Indonesia’s identities being a country with ancient Hindu and Buddha as our main religions, especially in the past. So, having the experience to have dinner near them and having it to ourselves for a brief time was pretty mind blowing.
During one’s appointed night, one can have dinner in the garden of Candi Panataran. The program will start at late afternoon with a historical tour and end up on the set up dining table.
“May I start with your appetizer?” the Javanese man in a white top, batik sarong, and blangkon, offered us and signaling that it was start the experience. We smiled, nodded, and said thank you.
The menu consists of Indonesian dishes that might be common for our dining table but presented with style. The set started with what we commonly know as stuffed tofu fritters, chicken soup, a rich main course, and closed with banana fritters and tea. Most of the food we had was excellent. There were a few extra pinches of salt within one of their dishes, which was identified by the staff and was deeply regretted. But all in all, it was great food! I can’t really elaborate the food much as each menu is different for every event. The Lost Temple Experience team will adjust the menu differently according to each guest by preparing something that might work to your liking and they might even surprise you.
As for the music, whether it’d be a flute player or something else, you won’t be left with dead air most of the night. The player would rest in between songs, which would be perfect time to just hear the sound of your company and the croaking frogs.
Is this even allowed?
“But this is a historical site. Are you even allowed to do this? Are there any infuriated historians seeing Tugu doing this on a historical site?” I had to ask that question on the back on my head.
“No. Every one is pretty happy with this arrangement. It’s agreed that this can be a worthy attraction. We can bring in people to have this experience and still respect the property and its history. The city needs some tourism to roll more economy,” miss Hartini, operational manager of Hotel Tugu Blitar, soothing our cringed forehead to the query of permission. She explains Lost Temple Dinner Experience is in cooperation with the local government, local tourism department, and the community, which means the surrounding neighbourhood. Relieved.
Coming in to dessert and a full tummy, most of the candi area turned pitch black, except for the area with torches. We nodded agreeing that this could be a romantic dinner setting beyond a five star restaurant treatment, especially for those that have a warm spot for Indonesian history and culture. You’re secluded in a historical site with romance on its walls, served with good authentic food, and accompanied by alleviating music. In a perfect setting, all you need is a ring (Well, OK, you need your loved one but a proposal would guarantee a ‘yes’). it was an experience beyond words.
This service is available even for those that aren’t staying at the Hotel Tugu Blitar. This arrangement is also available for those in larger groups. All you have to do is contact Hotel Tugu Blitar.Address: Jl. Merdeka 173, Blitar 66111, East Java
Candi Panaratan is considered the biggest and one of the most important candis of East Java. Established by the Kediri king, Srengga, to then be extended by the next kings of Singasari. It is said to be the Candi where Majapahit proclaimed his ‘Sumpah Palapa’, an oath to unite Indonesia. This name was linked to the fact they found the Palah relief at this candi. In the age where Majapahit probably still didn’t know how big, how rich, or how Indonesia really looked liked as a whole, it was a pretty bold oath to make. This was the spot he proclaimed it.
I liked it. It was like a park. And we enjoyed Candi Panataran in a different lights.
In coherent with Tugu Group philosophy ‘the art, soul and romance of Indonesia’, Candi Panataran walls apparently tell many stories of boy meets girl; boy falls in love with girl; boy fights gag-looking monsters or bad guys; boy wins and marries girl. Awww… . There are about four main romantic stories, which would be interesting to know more about with the help of a local guide, but a bit too long for this post. There’s no question that Tugu Group understands how to choose what is in-line with their idealism.
It warms my tummy to think that people would carve their rock worship place with stories of love. In the same time, it makes me wonder. Out of all the grand legends, after all the meditation, why is it the story of love that made the walls of this candi? Wouldn’t the story of Majapahit be a more relevant relief? Or has it been and always be ‘all you need is love’?
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