Yatra to Mount Bromo, named after Lord Brahma

  • By Shobhna Vora
  • July 23, 2023
  • 2353 views
  • Know about personal experiences of visit to Mount Bromo in Indonesia. Temple there has Ganesha and other symbols of Indian influence. More Indians should visit.

 

In March, 2023, I got a message from Suresh Adyeriji describing his trip to a Volcano named after Lord Brahma in Indonesia. The message made me decide the destination of our next trip. We planned to spend three weeks in Indonesia and wanted visit to Mount Bromo to be the highlight than well known Bali.

 

Days after returning I continue to be amazed by this place. Deep within is a voice saying, there is something more to this yatra. I am yet to find answers.

 

Background 

In Eastern Java, there is Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park known as Taman Nasional Bromo Tengger Semeru in Indonesian. It was declared a national park in 1982.

 

It is the only conservation area in Indonesia that has a sand sea, across which is the caldera of an ancient volcano (Tengger) from which four new volcanic cones have emerged. This unique feature covers a total area of 5,250 hectares and is at an altitude of about 2,100 meters (6,900 ft).  It has the highest mountain in Java, Mount Semeru (3,676 meters (12,060 ft)), four lakes and fifty rivers. It is named after the Tengger tribe.

Clockwise from left-Mount Bromo (smoldering with smoke), taller Mount Semeru & Mount Batok in front.

Mount Semeru also known as Mahameru ("Great Mountain"). It is one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes. What stands out most about this mountain is the fact that it erupts periodically (and reliably). Every 20min or so, the volcano belches out a huge cloud of steam and smoke, sometimes interspersed with ash and stones. 

 

Mount Bromo meaning Brahma in Javanese (2,329m) is easily recognized as the entire top has been blown off and the crater inside constantly belches white sulfurous smoke. It sits inside the massive Tengger caldera with a diameter of approximately ten kms, surrounded by the Laut Pasir (Sea of Sand) of fine volcanic sand. The overall effect is unsettlingly unearthly, especially when compared to the green valleys that exist all around the caldera.

Mount Bromo is about four hours drive from Surabaya, the capital of east Java.

 

Rajiv Malik wrote in Hinduism Today, “Mount Bromo is a major tourist attraction of the Tengger region, drawing visitors to see the spectacular active volcano where they can hike right up to the brim over the smoking caldera. Bromo-named for God Brahma-is a sacred place for Hindus. 

In the 15th century, Princess Roro Anteng, daughter of the Majapahit King Brawijaya, and her husband, Jaka Seger, were among those who fled the tattering Majapahit Kingdom when the Islamic religion was gaining followers all over. This couple took refuge near Mount Bromo and developed a new kingdom named it Tengger, using parts of their respective surnames.”

 

Our trip starts

Coming back to our trip, we started with Jakarta and next moved on to Yogyakarta (named after India’s holy city Ayodhya). From Yogyakarta we moved to Malang and after making a brief stopover at Tumpak Sewu Waterfall, we moved to the base of Mount Bromo.

 

We spent the night at Probolinggo. In the night the sky was absolutely clear. We were lucky to get an amazing viewing of the Milky Way. This reminded me of my childhood days in Koday, Kutch.

 

For simplicity, sequence of the day spent at Mount Bromo is Sunrise, Sand Sea, Temple i.e. base of Mt Bromo and climb steps to reach edge of crater top of Mt Bromo.

 

To be in time for sunrise we started at 3 am. We took a Jeep and trekked to Pananjakan Viewpoint. From here we saw a nearby village covered with clouds.

Front centre Mount Batok. Behind is Mount Bromo. Highest one is Mount Semeru.  

The sunrise over the landscape of Tengger Semeru National Park is one of the most stunning moments of our travel. It is said that the best sunrise view is from King Kong Hill. It was very cold early morning so be well clothed.

 

The area was covered by fog which slowly passed off and denuded the beauty of the craters. On the left side of the view there’s Cemoro Lawang (a scenic small town right next to the Bromo volcano viewpoint which was initially visible but later covered by fog. I am fortunate to see and capture three craters in one frame!

 

This Volcanic trio: Botok cinder cone, smoking Bromo, and majestic Semeru were out of this world not to miss the Sand Sea in between.

Malik wrote, “For the Tenggerese, Mt. Bromo is the biggest fire altar in the world. During the Kasada festival, they offer what is grown on their farms. There used to be 25 sacred places in this area, but many of them are forgotten. Every five years here is a Unan-Unan festival in which they perform prayers for the purification of the entire world. As many as 50,000 people may attend in each locality where it is held. Once a year they celebrate Karo in honour of their ancestors.”

 

After this we were driven to the base of Mount Bromo and had to cross the Sea of Sand on foot (you can also cross sand in a 4 by 4 jeep). Little did we know that it was start of a pilgrimage!

Pura Luhur Poten- temple from a distance.

Trimurthy represented in a Pelinggih like structure.

Saran wrote in Myind.net, “Tenggerese pray to the supreme God of Hinduism in these parts of the world called Ida Sung Hyang Widi Wasa. But do understand that Widi Wasa is none but Brahman (meaning ultimate reality quoted in the Vedas). All the other gods including the Trimurthys, Siva, Vishnu and Brahma, are all believed to be the manifestation of the God Widi Wasa as per the belief of Indonesian Hindus.” 

Ganesha inside the temple.  

 View of the Sea of the Sands with Pura Luhur Poten. 

On the sand plains is temple Luhur Poten. The temple is very important to the Tenggerese who live in the mountain villages near Mt. Bromo, among which are Cemara Lawang, Wonokitri, Ngadas, and Ranu Pane.

 

This temple is important because the annual Yadnya Kasada ceremony (last for a month) is held here during which fruits, flowers and food offerings are offered to the deities, which are dropped below into the crater. The gate of the temple was shut but on seeing us the caretaker opened the gates and welcomed us.

 

Luhur Poten Temple is believed to be the residence of Isa Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa, who is the embodiment of Lord Brahma. It was established in the year 2000.

 

Malik wrote, “Sutomo is chief priest for Mount Sumeru, Mount Bromo and Tengger. Under him are 48 priests responsible for daily and periodic religious rituals, including the annual Kasada festival and the Unan Unan held every five years during the Tenggerese lunar “leap year.”

 

The temple consists of several buildings, the key ones being the Main Mandala, Padma, and Madya Mandala which are commonly used to hold the Yadya Kasada ceremony.

 

Luhur Poten Temple has a unique building layout, is very nice and has Bhagwan Ganesha protecting the people. The position of Pura Luhur Poten between Mount Batok and  Bromo makes it unique.  

 

After temple visit, we began our trek to Mount Bromo.

Trek to the viewing point.

But on the way there were more surprises in store. As we started walking towards the trek route, we saw the piles of stones indicating a murti of Lord Ganesha. Next was a Siva Linga. Not far away, where the steps started was a structure made by the Buddhists.

Siva Linga.

Entrance made in Buddhist tradition.

Panoramic view. Right is Mount Batok. Left steps & viewing point. 

It is about a ten minute walk with 253 steps to be climbed. Then you reach the top from where you get a good view of the crater. Carry a scarf because it can get very dusty.

 

In no time the smoke of erupting Mount Bromo was visible.

Mount Bromo. 

But as we moved to the edge we saw Ganeshji guarding Brahmaji!  It was a mix of emotions and gratitute. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

Lord Ganesha on top of Mount Bromo caldera protecting Tenggerese people.

Malik wrote, “In Tengger, they put the emphasis on the power of the secret mantras while making simple offerings of food and fruits. In both places the mantras are in Sanskrit and Old Javanese (Kawi) along with some in the local language. Old Javanese itself is highly influenced by Sanskrit. Of the 25,500 entries in a 1982 dictionary of Kawi, 12,500 are Sanskrit loan words.”

 

More Indians should visit. Hope Government of India promotes this yatra.

Except where stated all pictures by author.  

 

References

1. About Mount Bromo

 

Also read

1.Pictures of 5 things not to miss on Mount Broma trip

2. A good travelogue on Mount Bromo

3. Ganesha murthi at Mount Bromo

4. Mount Bromo and the Indian connection

5. Meet the Hindus of Java

6. Lonar Crater in India

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