Situated on the western part of Mount Lawu at around 1,470 meters above sea level, Cetho Temple in Gumeng village, Karanganyar regency, Central Java, is an amazing sight to behold.
Due to the Hindu temple's location, the journey to reach it offers magnificent views of the mountainous surroundings. A thick layer of mist often covers the narrow road leading all the way up. But on a bright sunny day, Cetho Temple provides a spectacular vista of the nearby mountaintops of Lawu, Merapi, Merbabu, Sindoro and Sumbing.
Cetho Temple was built during the last years of the Majapahit kingdom in the 15th century, according to an inscription on one of the temple's gates on the seventh floor.
The inscription, written in ancient Javanese script, says Cetho Temple was inaugurated in 1379 of the Saka calendar, or 1475 according to our present-day calendar, with the purpose to purify one's soul from past mistakes, curse and bad luck.
According to locals, the word cetho, which means "clarity" in Javanese, was the original name of the village where the temple is located.
For history lovers, the Cetho Temple is home to ancient statues and symbols relating to the mythological story of Samudramantha and Garudeya. According to historians, its phallic and yonic symbols can be interpreted as a rebirth, or the process of creation after the purification of one's soul has taken place.
Upon entering the temple, visitors come across a gate resembling entrances common to Balinese Hindu temples. Two ancient statues of the mythological garuda bird and a turtle are also seen at the gate in flying pose, with the garuda spreading its wings.
Cetho Temple has terraces at different levels of altitude, although only nine of them now remain.
The temple's trapezoid-shaped main structure is located on the top story. The roofless space was created by the formation of the 2-meter surrounding walls. From this vantage spot, visitors can see the whole site.
How to get there
Cetho Temple is a two-hour drive from Surakarta, Central Java.
There is an admission fee of Rp 3,000 (26 US cents) for domestic tourists and Rp 10,000 for foreigners.