- Elevation: 1,653 m (5,423 ft)
- Prominence: 1,020 m
- Ribu category: Kurang Tinggi
- Province: Jawa Timur (East Java)
- Google Earth: kml
- Other names: none.
Penanggungan is a small now-dormant volcano situated just to the north of the huge Arjuno-Welirang range. It used to be called Gunung Pawitra because of the fog which often covers the peak so make sure you set out early to reach the top before the cloud rolls in! Accessibility is not a problem as it is only a short distance from the main road connecting Surabaya with the pleasant city of Malang.
Penanggungan is a particularly revered mountain and has many ancient Hindu temple sites on its slopes – as many as eighty according to Dutch archaeological investigations conducted in the 1930s. This whole area is a fascinating reminder of Java’s pre-Islam history and the Majapahit kingdom.
There are several approaches to the peak and they each have their advantages and disadvantages. Because of the abundance of accommodation in the mountain resorts of Trawas and Tretes, many people choose to start south or west of the peak and this is arguably where the best views of the mountain are to be found. A good budget place to stay is PPLH Environmental Education Centre, west of the mountain, where you can also find guides.
As a rough figure, allow 4 hours to reach the top and 2 and a half to descend. Remember suncream for this trip because Penanggungan is an unusually unforested peak so there is very little shade to be found.
Below is a list of the main routes. It is obviously more interesting if you ascend by one route and descend in a different direction.
Starting from Candi Jolotundo (west of the peak)
One of the best-known starting points for the hike is in the west at Candi Jolotundo (500m), a temple built in approximately 977AD and one of the oldest and most sacred. The temple is a very popular place for Indonesians to visit and bathe and there is information and a small office booth where you will almost certainly be able to locate a guide for climbing. This is important because the trail is not always very clear and there are numerous farm tracks which can add to the confusion. The Jolotundo route passes many sites of great interest.
The trail from Jolotundo leads up through plantations and beyond various farm huts. As the trail leads onwards up the hillside, the prominent subsidiary peak Bekel comes into view to the left of the path. There are many farm trails here so if in doubt ask one of the friendly farmers for help. The route is subtly marked with red arrows (and red crosses to indicate the wrong way) painted on rocks and trees. After you have ascended beyond the farmland, the trail gets steeper and less clear. However, there are several ancient temples on the higher slopes, at intervals of approximately 200 metres, which more than make up for the overgrown path. These Hindu temples are very interesting monuments and, considering the steep, overgrown and narrow trail, probably not often visited.
They feature central stairways and terraced walkways with a few stone carvings. Each temple has a small grassy lawn infront of it which is neat and in good condition – evidence that local people do care for these relics. Elevations and names are as follows: Bayi (909 m), Putri (1,083 m), Pura (1,110 m), Gentong (1,153 m), and Sinta (1,157 m).
If the weather is good, you should be able to see the remarkable, jagged outline of Gunung Anjasmoro‘s Boklorobubuh peak to the south-west. Beyond the temples is a small cave. From here, the top of Penanggungan is clearly visible and it should take you only about another 30 minutes.
The alternative option is to take a left after Candi Sinta and head to the lesser peak of Gunung Bekel which has several more temples and sees far less visitors and is therefore much cleaner. Be warned that this can take a full day to explore.
Assuing you continue to the highest peak of Penanggungan, the grassy spot is a lovely spot to sit down for lunch. In fine conditions you should be able to see Arjuno, Liman, and perhaps Semeru and Argopuro. The shallow grassy bowl-like depression just below the peak is all that remains of the crater. The summit area is an almost symmetrical shape, and pretty much aligned to the cardinal points – probably one of the reasons why ancient people regarded this mountain as being of such great importance.
Starting from Tamiajeng, Trawas (south-west of the peak)
This route is the ‘official’ route that is most heavily promoted and is now the most popular. It starts fairly high up at around 600m above sea level. It is clearly signposted but due to its popularity there is more litter on this trail than some of the others. It is the shortest and steepest of the routes.
Starting from Dusun Telogo, Desa Kunjorowesi (north-east of the peak)
The advantage of this route is that it is not very far from Sidoarjo and the main Malang-Surabaya road. The mahogany woodland is also beautiful. It starts at around 700m.
Starting from Dusun Betro, Desa Wonosunyo (east of the peak)
Similar to the Kunjorowesi route but starting due east.
Starting from Genting, Ngoro, near Candi Jedong (north of the peak)
Starting at an elevation of only around 350m, this is the longest and toughest of the hikes. It is recommended that you seek a guide at nearby Jedong temple.
Bagging information by Daniel Quinn.
- Getting there: Lots of public transport available between Surabaya and Tretes. You may need an ojek to the starting point.
- Accommodation: Plenty in Trawas and Tretes, or PPLH Environmental Education Centre, west of the mountain.
- Permits: None required but take a photocopy of your passport photo page just incase.
- Water sources: Unknown – take sufficient supplies with you.
- Travel insurance: We recommend World Nomads insurance, which is designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities including mountain hiking.
Local Average Monthly Rainfall (mm):
Origins and Meaning
(not clear). In Old Javanese tanggung means “to bear a burden, to take on a burden” so pananggungan might mean “the place where the world is supported” (compare Gunung Sanggabuana). The Penanggungan Plateau has been a sacred place from distant times (there are significant pre-Islamic ruins to be seen there today), so it is possible that the name of the place reflects its ancient function – a place where ascetics and kings “took on the burdens of the world” by connecting with the deities of the sites. (George Quinn, 2011)