Ampel mosque is located in Ampel Dento on the Northern Surabaya. This mosque was built by Sunan Ampel, one of 9 saints that spread Islam over Java Island. The mosque was constructed in Majapahit Era in 1421 and the architecture is old Javanese style blends with Arabic architecture.
Sunan Ampel, aka Raden Rahmat, aka Bong Swie Ho, aka sayyid ali rahmatullah, moved to Java in the age of 20. His mother was the princes of Champa. He had a very kind manner, pious, wise in his young age that make people sympathetic to him including King of Majapahit that gave him land in Ampel Dento formerly, now Surabaya, to spread Islam knowledge.
This mosque was the biggest in Surabaya, and until now it is still one of the biggest mosque in town. Although renovation had been done to the real Ampel mosque, 16 original pillars are still standing tall inside the mosque. The Pillars are made of teak with 60 cm diameter.The Mosque was built to spread Islam around Surabaya, so located at the northern part of Surabaya was a very strategic location regarding the closeness to Port that was the main entrance to Majapahit Empire. The mosque roof is 3 level and the main room is rectangle completed with sokoguru (main pillars). The podium is decorated with garuda bird, medallion, creeping plants and Surya Majapahit, the official logo of Majapahit Empire. The decoration style is not only relatied to the symbol of Islam but also reflecting local essence that derives from cosmological concept. Birds theme is familiar in Islam literature such as the story of Solomon and in Hindu Birds also decorating temples even bird is the vehicle of Visnu. Surya Majapahit of The Sun of Majapahit decoration shows that Sunan Ampel respect the Majapahit sovereignty.
Entering the mosque area, 5 old gates will welcome the visitors. The gates are the manifestation of 5 pillars of Islam. Here are the gate names respectively northward Gapuro Munggah is the representative Pilgrimage to Mecca, to delineate that moslem should do the pilgrimage when they are able doing so. The next gate is Gapuro Poso (Fasting Gate), moslem must fast during the month of Ramadhan. After that then entering Mosque yard with tall tower that were built by Sunan Ampel. Afterwards then Gapuro Ngamal (Charity Gate), charity is also a must-do for moslems. Charity is used for the conservation of the mosque, and graveyard area located next to the mosque. Gapuro Mandep is the manifestation of shalah, 5 times prayers for moslem. And Gapuro Paneksen delineates testimony of faith in Allah and His Prophet, Muhammad.
Thing that might be interesting here is clay pots where pilgrims can drink. The water source flows from a spring that never dries even in dry season. Some people use the water to wash their face as they believe that the water has virtues. And Sunan Ampel Mosque area is never closed, it opens twenty four seven. Everyday moslem pilgrims flock to the tombs located next to the mosque, especially on Thursday night. There are other tombs that are located here beside the tomb of Sunan Ampel, they are that of the family and followers on Sunan Ampel.
The grave of Sunan Ampel has an old gate with the shape of paduraksa. His grave is separated from other graves as if this defines his to other graves there. The gate is decorated with flowers and creeping plants on the door that remind us on old Hindu Temples that has Kala and Makara on their doors. In the inside of the gate there are medallion and octagonal star.
The tombstone of Sunan Ampel is separated from others by fence of more than 1 meters high. The tombstone has a shape of lotus flower as symbol that he was a divine leading person. This lotus motive is related to the culture of Hindu-Budhist that were embraced by Majapahit Empire.
Beside the spot for pilgrimage, Ampel also has market that feels like the athmosphere of somewhere in Middle East. The shops selling souvenirs, parfume, dates, snacks, moslem fashions, islamic books, and many more. Also food stalls that sell arab cuisines.