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Saturday, 17-Apr-2010 00:00 Email | Share | Bookmark
Day 2 - Candi Muara Takus, Kampar, Riau, Sumatra, Indonesia.

Candi Muara Takus
This morning, though I set the alarm at 0530, I only woke up at 0620 and had to get ready fast as they were coming to fetch me at 0700. Because of the delay, I had to skip breakfast at the hotel. Only had my instant 3 in 1 coffee which I carry in abundance with me whenever I travel anywhere.

My friends finally arrived at 0715. We set to drive across the Pekanbaru district and crossed the border in Kampar district after a 24 Kilometer drive. This crossing of boundaries was marked by a huge arch. One thing was remarkably noticeable, after the border crossing, there seemed to be pineapple stalls everywhere on both sides of the road. Maybe the soil here in this district is suitable for pineapple farming. No other fruit stalls were available anywhere here.

Another obvious sight here was all muslim women, in fact almost all women, were fully dressed in the tudong, that is the head scarf. I guess the majority religion here is Islam. But unlike other parts of Pekanbaru or Indonesia for that matter, with Banda Acheh as an exception, Islam and its rules were strictly followed here. Every women, from young children to old ladies wore the head scarf with no hair and skin exposed.

After the pineapple farms and stalls, we then passed villages filled with paddy fields on both sides of the road. Paddy grows in abundance in this area. At this point onwards, the pineapple stalls disappeared completely. Then we crossed a huge iron bridge built over the Kampar River. Suddenly i saw a signage which says welcome to Kabupaten Islamiah Kampar. Only then I understood the significance of the head scarves. That signage means welcome to the Islamic District of Kampar. In fact their motto was to progress, educate and live Islamically.

Then passed through a small village town which is called Desa Penyasawan.

As the journey progresses, we got closer to Bangkinang Town and the villages and infrastructure gets bigger and more modern. Bangkinang is the biggest town in Kampar District in Riau, Sumatra. After Batu Belah town, there is a junction and we headed towards the Bukit Tinggi road.

At the point onwards, you would pass a scenic town called Rantau Beringin. As the names suggests, its a hilly town with the beautiful Kampar River running parallel to this town.

This journey is filled with hair pin curves and we had to stop for a while as the one of the group needed to vomit..hehehe.

Just at the end of this town, we passed another beautiful lake called Danau Rusa. Just stopped here for less than 5 minutes to catch the breathtaking views and continued our journey.

Shortly after this place you would see the signage which tells you to turn right.

This is exactly 110 Kilometres from my hotel. Please be informed that with the road conditions in Indonesia, its good if you could do 50 Kilometers in 1 hour. After turning in, we continued driving but just could not find the place. Then we asked some locals and they mentioned it was another 8 Kilometers inside. Wow, that means another 30 minutes drive. There was a huge sigh from everyone in the car when we heard the numbers. Unlike Malaysia, 8 Kliometers could be done in 5 minutes i guess. Most points of the road here, we were only running at 10 Kilometers per hour speed. Then we passed through many small villages namely Desa Tuo and many others. Then exactly at 12 Kilometers from the main entrance, we turned right and entered Desa Muara Takus.

We paid an entrance fee of IDR 4000 each. Approximately we arrived at Muara Takus at 0955. and from the last turn it was another 4 Kilometers in. Walked around the area and did some study at the place as well. Magnificent place. I wonder how the would have built the place in those days. Engineering levels and thoughts were so great with every detail taken into account including the wear and tear, drainage inside the Candi and so forth. This is just the remains of the entire complex left by the Buddhist Empire, Sri Wijaya. The sad thing is that even the locals there did not know that it was built as a Buddhist Tempel Some even asked if it was a grave. Can you imagine that.

After walking around the place, we left at 1030. Out next destination was Gua Tujuh Serangkai which is slightly out of Kampar district and comes in Rokan Hulu District in Riau, Sumatra.

Please find a detailed account on the Candi Muara Takus courtesy of The National Library of Indonesia:

Temples in the island of Sumatra are not as many as those in Java. Because there are lot less volcanic rocks in Sumatra, all temples found in the island are made of red bricks, and that is the reason most of the temples have been discovered in virtually ruined condition. Apart from being damaged, most temples in Sumatra are located quite far from urban areas, which contributes to the low number of tourists visiting the area. In Simangambat near Siabu in North Sumatra, ruins of SHiva Temple was found. Little is known about this temple. It is assumed that the temple was built around the 8th century. Further researches and excavations are still required to find out more about this temple.

The big and famous temple in Sumatra is Muara Takus, located in Muara Takus Village, Tigabelas Koto subdistrict, Kampar Regency, Riau Province. Upstream, Kampar River diverges into Kampar Kanan and Kampar Kiri Rivers. It is on Kampar Kanan riverbank that Muara Takus village is situated. Muara Takus Temple is mostly constructed wit red bricks. Unlike the other temple ruins discovered in North Sumatra, Muara Takus is a Buddhist Temple. The temple is probably closely related to Sriwijaya Kingdom, which also indicates that the temple once functioned as a port. This is possible considering that Sriwijaya people were great sailors who were capable of sailing far from the source of the Kampar River. I-Ching mentions in his account that Muara Takus area was probably Sriwijaya's capital, or at leats a port city that had once been the center of Buddhist study, a place where traveler's from China, India and other countries learned.

Generally, the only access by land transportation is through Pekanbaru - Bukit Tinggi route stopping in Muara Mahat. Muara Mahat has a small road that leads to Muara Takus. Muara Takus Temple is the only historical heritage in the form of a temple in Riau. The Buddhist Style temple is evidence that Buddhism had once flourished in that area. Yet, archeologists remain uncertain as to when this temple was built exactly but estimated to be somewhere around the 8th Century, therefore this temple is much older that Candi Borubudur in Yogyakarta.

There are two arguments relating to the name Muara Takus. The first claims that the name was derived from a small river named Takus which is a tributary of Kampar Kanan River. The other theory says that Muara Takus comes from two words of different origins, 'Muara' means estuary and 'Takus'. The word 'Muara' has a clear meaning already, a river that empties into an ocean or bigger river, while 'Takus' is derived from Chinese words 'Ta' (meaning big), 'Ku' (meaning old) and 'Se' (meaning temple or shrine). As a whole, Muara Takus signifies a big old temple that lies on an estuary.

The main building is called Tua Temple. This temple has a dimension of 32.80 m x 21.80 m and is the biggest building within the compound. It is laid out to the North of Bungsu Temple. There are stairs on its east and west sides, which probably used to have Stuphas. Statues of sitting lions are placed on the lower parts of the stairs. This building has 36 sides and consists of Base I, Base II, Body and Top. The Top has been damaged and many of the stones have been gone.

Tua Temple was made of red bricks and tuff. Restoration of this temple has been carried out gradually due to financial constraints. In 1990, Base I on the east side was restored. In the fiscal year of 1992 / 1993, restoration was continued on the west side (Base I and Base II). The entire volume of the building is 2,235 m3 comprising of bases (2,028 m3), body (150 m3) and top (57 m3). The building stands 8.50 meters high.

The second building is called Mahligai Temple. This temple is cube shaped in 10.44 m x 10.60 m dimension with 28 sides and stands 14.30 m high on an octagonal platform. The base has multiple ornaments of lotus and its center has a spire that resembles the shape of a phallus (Lingga).

In 1860, Cornel de Groot, a Dutch archeologist, made a visit to Muara Takus. He could still see statues of sitting lions on each side. Now the statues have disappeared. On the east side, there is a square terrace in 5.10 m x 5.10 m dimension with stairs in its front part. Mahligai Temple has a volume of 423.20 m3; consisting of base 275.3 m3, body 66.6 m3 and top 81.3 m3. Restoration of Mahligai Temple began in 1978 and was completed in 1983.


The third building is called Palangka Temple, located 3.85 m to the east of Mahligai Temple. This building is made of cast red bricks. Palangka Temple is the smallest, and has niches in different stone arrangement compared to that on the wall of Mahligai Temple. Before restoration efforts were carried out, the temple base was buried one meter into the ground. Restoration of this temple began in 1987 and was completed in 1989. Restoration was carried out only on the temple base and body, because the top had already disappeared when the temple was discovered in 1860. To the north, there are stairs that have already been damaged and it's original form cannot be recognized. The temples base is octagonal, 6.60 m long, 5.85 m wide and and stands 1.45 m from ground level with a volume of 52.9 m3.

The fourth building is called Bungsu Temple. This temple is laid out to the west of Mahligai Temple. The building is made out of two types of stones, tuff for the front part and bricks for the rear part. Restoration of this temple began in 1988 and was completed in 1990. The efforts have successfully restored the temple to its original form, a square building in 7.50 m x 16.28 m dimension. The top is not restored because it's original form is unknown. The temple stands 6.20 m from ground level after restoration, with a volume of 365.80 m3.

Illustration made by J.W. Yzerman, TH.A.F. Delprat and Obziter (Sinder) H.L. Leijdie Melvile, indicates that above that red brick structure, there are 8 small stuphas encircling a big stupha. Above the tuff structure, there is a big stupha. On the east side, there is a stairway made of tuff.

In addition to those buildings, in the north or right in front of the gate of Tua Temple, there is a mound of earth with two holes.

This place is suspected to be a crematorium. One hole is used for loading the corpse and the other is for retrieving the ash. This facility is included in temple maintenance because it is still within the temple compound. Gravels from Kampar River are found inside the mound. Several other buildings, suspected to be in close relation to this temple, are also found outside Muara Takus temple compound in a number of locations around Muara Takus village.


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