The kings of Singhasari

Candi Singosari was built in a region with a rich and long history. The inscription of Kanjuruhan (Dinoyo), dating from 760 AD, informs us of an already existing Hindu community in the Malang area of East Java. By the end of the ninth century, Hinduism seems to have been firmly established in that area, as is evidenced by the temples of Badut and Songgoriti and the various inscriptions found there. At that time, the centre of Hindu and Buddhist culture was still located in Central Java; East Java seems to have been little more than a distant province. This situation began to change at the end of the ninth century.

Map of the Medang Kingdom

As the Central Javanese kingdom of Mataram gained power and outgrew its cradle in the Progo valley, its kings became aware of the potential riches of East Java and of its strategic location. Unlike Central Java, which is cut off from the coast, East Java is favourably located in terms of access to the sea. As agricultural surpluses and trade became more and more important, the balance of power gradually shifted from the Progo valley in Central Java to the plains of the Brantas River in East Java.

The final move was made around 928, when King Sindok transferred the centre of power from Central to East Java. From this moment on, the roles were reversed: kings established their palaces in East Java and Central Java became a backward province. Between 1222 and 1292 the capital city was Singhasari (present-day Singosari) in the Malang region.