A Javanese chronicle relates that King Kertanegara was buried at Singhasari in East Java in 1295, three years after his death, and deified as a Shiva-Buddha. His temple tower is divided into two parts, the lower one Sivaitic or Hindu, the upper one Buddhistic, because in his life he prided himself on honouring Shiva, as well as Buddha.
King Kertanegara is believed to have been killed by an assasin during a Tantric ritual or a Tantric orgy, as some have written. His deified statue is that of Bhairava, a demonic form of Shiva, who is portrayed standing on a pedestal of skulls, wearing a chain of human heads around his naked body, a crown of skulls on his head and holding a skull drinking cup in his left hand.
The statue of Bhairava is missing from the central temple niche in Candi Singhasari and was apparently taken by a Dutch Governor of East Java to decorate the garden in his residence and now resides at the Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde in Leiden, Holland
Two giant Dwarapala or temple guardian statues stand nearby, each adorned with skulls, with a snake wrapped around his torso and holding a giant club. Carved from a single block of stone and weighing around forty tons. they are to large to move, even by the Dutch, and would have guarded the entrance to King Kertanegara’s palace ot temple compound.
Interested in the temples of East Java? You can find out more by joining Ian Burnet on a ‘Journey Across Java’ by train and mini-bus from August 17 to August 30, 2016. For all the details please go to: