Nicolaus Engelhard (1761-1831), the ‘discoverer’ of Singosari, was 16 when he entered the service of the Dutch East Indies Company. He arrived in Batavia in 1777 and quickly climbed to the top in the Company. In 1801, he was appointed Governor of Java’s north-east coast, the second most important position in the Dutch colony. With links through his aunt and his wife to the Altings, one of Batavia’s most prominent families, Engelhard was a member of the Dutch elite. He was also a connoisseur of Javanese culture and a collector of antiques.
His interest in Javanese antiquities must have led Engelhard to the ruins of Singosari in 1803. We have no account of his visit but it seems, from later letters, that he visited only the still-standing temple (Candi Singosari) and was unaware of the existence of other remains.
Engelhard found the temple overgrown and unattended. He removed the sculptures from the temple and placed them in the garden of his residence in Semarang. The sculptures removed included those of Nandishvara, Mahakala, Durga, Ganesha, Nandi, and Bhairava, all now in Museum Volkenkunde in Leiden (The Netherlands).