On one of his travels, in 1803, Nicolaus Engelhard, Governor of Java’s north-east coast, heard of the existence of a temple in the neighbourhood of Malang. Being an amateur scholar of Javanese antiquities, this aroused his interest. He stopped in a small village, Singosari, on the borders of a forest along the Malang-Surabaya road, a few miles from Malang. There, among crumbling walls overgrown by trees, loose stones and abandoned statues, he found the temple of Singosari and its magnificent Hindu sculptures. This is how the rediscovery of the artistic legacy of the kingdom of Singhasari began.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Candi Singosari was a mere ruin, overgrown by trees. It stood in the middle of the forest. Although villagers still made offerings to the statues at the site, probably at certain conjunctions of the Javanese five-day week and the seven-day week, as is still the case, the temple was unknown to the outside world. We do not know how exactly Engelhard heard of the temple’s existence, but his visit in 1803 pulled Singosari out of oblivion.
In the following decades, Candi Singosari became one of East Java’s main attractions. The temple was visited by civil servants, painters and draughtsmen, scholars, royals and tourists, including Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, Lieutenant-Governor of Java (1811-1816), and King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) of Siam (Thailand).