Ancient wood carving of a temple in Javanese Style, now preserved in the small, local goverment museum at Tuban.

Just about the only buildings remaining from the Hindu/Javanese period are the sacred shrines and bathing places, known as candi. These were built to last, whereas most other structures were made from perishable materials, such as wood or bamboo. Most of the shrines which are found scattered throughout the central part of East Java were monuments to past leaders, heroes and their families. According to the prevailing custom, when a king or important royal personage died, funeral ceremonies were carried out, the ashes of the deceased being scattered in the ocean or river, after which a temple was built to house an 'ideal portrait statue', usually an image of a god or the Buddha, whom the departed leader had represented on earth. Thus Airlangga was portrayed as Vishnu, Kertanagara as Shiva/Buddha and so on.The temples themselves were often very finely decorated with relief carvings, telling well known stories, usually based on Hindu or Buddhist legend. Javanese architecture from the period was exceptionally refined; as an eminent scholar once remarked, 'the Javanese took the best from India and improved on it'.

While the historical periods of Central and East Java overlap, there are some quite distinct differences between the two artistic styles, which tended to grow further apart as time went on. Summing up, one could say that the temples of Central Java are refined, static and, ultimately, remote. In East Java everything is on a more human scale. The artistic style is more dynamic, the character more essentially 'Javanese', the gods approachable.

At the very end of the Hindu period the temples of East Java probably looked much like those found on the island of Bali today; that is, a series of separate enclosures, with the holiest part of the temple furthest from the entrance and closest to the mountain, where the gods were believed to well.

Indonesia began to come under the influence of Hindu and Buddhist civilization during the early years of the Christian era, through direct contact with India and the south east Asian mainland. In the following centuries small Hinduized states arose in Java, the earliest known being the 5th century kingdom of Taruma, situated near present day Bogor in the western part of the island. An inscription dating from A.D. 760 mentions a kingdom of Kanyuruhan, located near the city of Malang. Discovered at Dinoyo, the inscription is believed to be connected with Candi Badut, the earliest surviving Hindu temple in East Java.
Although East Java possesses nothing to match the scale of the enormous monuments of Borobudur and Prambanan, near Yogyakarta, the province is exceedingly rich in temple remains; what it lacks in size, it makes up for in strength and quality of artistic style. Furthermore, whereas the active period of temple construction in Central Java lasted for little more than 200 years, the building of Hindu/ Buddhist monuments continued in East Java until the 15th century.
Aside from Candi Badut (and Candi Songgoriti at Batu), there is not much other material evidence from this early period. It is not until the 11th century, during the reign of King Airlangga, that building in stone appears to have begun again on a large scale. We have already mentioned the bathing places of Belahan and Jolotundo on Mt Penanggungan, built just before or during Airlangga's reign. This period also saw the flowering of some of Java's greatest classical literature, adapted from Indian epic poetry. One of the most famous and best loved stories,the Arjuna Wiwaha, can be seen carved in stone on the walls of a cave hermitage near Tulungagung. Known as Gua (cave) Selomangleng, the man made cave probably dates from the late 10th century and is similar in age and appearance to Gua Gajah at Bedulu in Bali.

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