Blitar in the province of East Java is more than the birthplace and burial site of Indonesia's founding father and first president, Sukarno.
Artifacts and ruins of what was once the greatest kingdom in the archipelago, the Majapahit, are still scattered about the city. Among those is the historical site near Rambut Monte Lake in Gandusari village, which The Jakarta Post Travel visited recently.
It was quite easy to reach the site. The road is smooth and wide and there were plenty of parking spaces.
Upon entering, an ancient, two-meter tall temple welcomes visitors. Observing the flower-offerings at the temple, it seemed that Hindus were still using the temple for prayer.
Although the temple is no longer completely intact, major parts have been preserved, such as the linggam-yoni relic, which is a symbol representing the oneness of the sexes, and a barong (Javanese mythical giant creature) carving on the ceiling.
A humble altar was placed inside for prayer offerings.
While stepping down the steps, a turquoise lake suddenly came into view, instantly captivating one’s attention with its mysterious calmness.
The lake is called Rambut Monte.
At the first glance, there was nothing unusual about the lake, save for its enchanting presence. But upon closer observation, one could see a school of fish, grayish in color, swimming.
Each fish was probably about 30 centimeters in size and occasionally would show off its fins, as a shark often does.
The locals called them God fish, but others call them Senggiring fish.
Story has it that the school of fish is actually a reincarnation of Majapahit soldiers guarding the temple. Locals believe the number of fish in the lake has never changed.
The legend, which has been passed down generation by generation, is that the fish cannot be harmed or caught, let alone eaten. So far, people have obeyed the rules and no one dares litter at the lake for fear of unleashing a series of misfortunes.
According to the Rambut Monte Lake whisperer, the water source has never dried up, not even during the most terrible drought.
He also said that visitors were not allowed to drink or swim in the lake and are instructed to refrain from swearing or thinking evil thoughts around the site, as it could bring about undesired consequences.
With so many rules to obey, the good news is that a designated pool for swimming is available on site where visitors can unwind.
The fresh mountain air and the tall pine trees surrounding the pool were really truly stunning and refreshing.
Floating and looked up the blue sky in the pool it was hard not to feel totally at ease, light and content.
How to get there
Rambut Monte is around 35 kilometers from Blitar and can be reached by car or ojek (motorcycle taxi), which are available for hire at the city's alun-alun (town square).
If arriving from the east via Malang, upon entering Blitar drive to Wlingi and then to Gandusari, following the signs.
Entrance tickets are Rp 3,000 per adult (US$0.75) and Rp 2,000 per child.