'Mysterious'; these are two words which aptly sum up the character
of East Java's western region. The area is well known for its
abundance of prehistoric sites, some dating back a million years
or more. Dubois made his famous discoveries at Trinil in the
Ngawi region in 1891; other scientists have uncovered evidence
of early human settlement In the districts of Ponorogo, Pacitan and Tulungagung.
Travelling south of Ponorogo, the main road divides. offering
the choice of either continuing to Pacitan on the coast, or heading
east towards Trenggalek and Tulungagung. Both routes are interesting.
Although the distance from Ponorogo to Pacitan Is only about
70 kilometres, the Journey can take two to three hours. since
the narrow road twists and turns through a deep valley following
the course of the picturesque Grindulu river. The Pacitan region
is famous for its agate cutting industry, a tradition which has
been handed down since time immemorial. The centre is at Donorojo,
on the border of East and Central Java. Here, stone working and
polishing is a popular home industry, since the raw material
is in plentiful supply. Large lumps of unworked agate, quartz
and other semi-preciousstone can be seen on display outside the
small production centres on the roadside.
The Principal town in this part of the province is Madiun.
From here. there are interesting places to visit in all directions.
To the north, the town of Ngawi and the prehistoric site of Trinil are
just one hour's drive away. The mountains Lawu and Wilis, respectively
west and east of Madiun, both offer a cool, refreshing climate and fine
natural scenery. On Mt Lawu, the hill resort of Sarangan is a popular
place to visit for the day, or for a stay overnight. The village has
an excellent fruit and vegetable market and the mountain lake provides
facilities for rowing and fishing. Close to Sarangan, the town of Magetan is well known for its production of high quality brass gongs, which
are traditionally used in the Javanese gamelan orchestra.
On the slopes of Mt Wilis, east of Ponorogo the Lake of Ngebel is a haven of beauty and tranquility. Surrounding the lake, which
is six kilometres in circumference, are steep. forest covered
hillsides supporting vast and ancient trees with fantastic root
Besides agate cutting, Donorojo is also well known as one of
the last surviving centres for an ancient art form called wayang
beber,which is related to the more popular wayang kulit, or
leather 'shadow puppets'. Instead of using the flat, leather
puppets, however, wayang beber employs a long scroll.onto which
the wayang characters are painted directly. As a living art.
wayang beber has all but vanished today but some original
scrolls may still be seen at Donorojo. Considered sacred. they
may only be opened at certain times, following the performance
of a special ritual. The road east towards Trenggalek climbs
into the hills and offers some spectacular mountain scenery.
Trenggalek itself has some attractive beaches and isolated fishing
villages, among them Prigi and Karanggongso. Further east, at
Tulungagung, lie the Wajak mountains, site of some famous prehistoric
discoveries and the centre of a marble industry. Here, too, can
be found several temple remains dating from the 13th and 14th