Compound

No contemporary description of the royal compound of Singhasari has survived, but we can glean some information from reliefs on other East Javanese temples that depict royal compounds and from nineteenth-century documentation. One of the most important documents is a map, most probably drawn by the Dutch draughtsman A.J. Bik, which is now kept in the Museum Volkenkunde. This map was only recently rediscovered by Véronique Degroot during the current Singosari project.

Map of the compound by A.J. Bik

In his 1909 monograph Brandes used another map, by J.T. Bik. The map by A.J. Bik is important, because, unlike the version published in Brandes’s monograph, the map shows the still standing Candi Singosari (also called Candi A) – absent in J.T. Bik’s map – and five instead of four buildings to the south (Candi B, an unnamed temple, Candi C, Candi D and Candi E). It also indicates the square (alun-alun) where the giant temple guardians were located, as also shown on most other maps.

A number of maps show the places where sculptures were found, which would suggest that they belonged to one of the temples, but it is not always clear whether these were their original locations. Sculptures seem to have been moved and little documentation exists for some remains.

The map demonstrates that some of the southern shrines were at least as large as Candi Singosari and gives a fairly detailed idea of their respective ground plans. The shrines were built in a row running from Candi Singosari (in the north) to Candi E (also called Candi Wayang) some 900m to the south. Three of the buildings appear to have shared the same cruciform plan as Candi Singosari. The other two were larger and had long rectangular ground plans.

These temples have since been destroyed and are buried under the modern town. Fortunately, a few nineteenth-century drawings and paintings give us a glimpse of what the temples used to look like. Old documentation also describes an enclosure wall. The ‘Pendopo Terrace’ directly to the south of Candi Singosari was excavated in the early twentieth century by the Archaeological Committee.

Painting by H.N. Sieburgh

Ruins of a Hindu past in a predominantly Muslim area, the temples of Singosari had already been long abandoned when the first Europeans visited the place. Candi Wayang had even been plundered. As one can see in Sieburgh’s drawing, treasure hunters had pierced its base, looking for the ritual deposit box and the gold it was thought to contain. The second half of the nineteenth century saw the temples decay even more rapidly.

Drawing by H.N. Sieburgh