Today, the Singosari temple stands among modern houses and is the only clear vestige of the ancient city of Singhasari. This city, originally known as Kutaraja, was the residence of the kings of the Tumapel-Singhasari dynasty (1222-1292). It was renamed Singhasari in 1254, following the consecration of King Kertanagara. The city was made up of a large royal compound. The king’s residence was surrounded by the houses of those who served the king: nobility, clergymen, civil servants, craftsmen and servants.
After the fall of the kingdom of Tumapel-Singhasari the place remained important. Kings of the Majapahit dynasty (1292-c.1500), whose capital city was further north, sometimes sojourned at Singosari to hunt in the neighbouring forests and to pay their respects to their ancestors, who were thought to have become unified with the divinities represented in the images in the temples in the Singosari-Malang area.