Candi Cetha is located in Cetha Gumeng Village, Jenawi, Karanganyar Regency, Central Java. Candi Cetha is one of Temples built in Majapahit era, when King Brawijaya reigned.
Cetha means clear, obvious, or vivid. The village name was used to refer the temple. From the village, clearly (cetha), to see landscape of Karananyar, Solo with Gunung Merbabu and Merapi background, and further peak of Mt Sumbing. Westward and Eastward, green hills stretch, and at the south the slope of Mt Lawu with its baby mountains.
Candi Cetha complex was discovered by Van der Vlis in 1842 and then other experts like W.F. Sutterheim, K.C. Crucq, N.j. Krom, A.J. Bernet Kempers, and Riboet Darmosoetopo also interested in this. An excavation was done in 1928 by local ancient service to discover material and complete reconstruction. The present formation, including the wooden pendapa, is the result of restoration in the end of 1970s, only unfortunately, the reconstruction did not notice the archaeological aspect, that the original formation is scientifically lame.
From an inscription found here, the temple was built date back 1451 – 1470, in the end of Majapahit Kingdom reign. Candi Cetha is a hindu temple for purification purpose tol save from bad luck and disater. The fact that in that time Majapahit Kings were Buddhist, and this temple was built in Hindu characteristics. This irrelevance was estimated because of purpose to build the temple. In that very time, Majapahit was in the threshold of falling apart with social, politics, culture and even religion mess before finally completely collapsed in 1478.
Candi Cetha is a cluster of buildings, constitute of 11 worshiping terraces that stretch from west to east. Each terrace is connected with a door and passage as if they split it into 2 parts. There is a gate that has role as the main entrance and in front of the it a statue called Nyai Gemang Arum stands.
On the south of the first Terrance, there is a wall-less building, standing on a 2 m foundation. Inside the building there is pile of stones used as shrine for offering. On the far west, located a gate with stone stairs. The stairs is flanked by couple of Nyai Agni statue, with one statue not intact anymore.
In the second terrace yard, there is a structured stones that form a flying garuda with wings spread wide open. On the back of the garuda, another structured stones in shape of turtle. On the garuda head, stone structure shows picture of the shining sun, triangle and kalacakra. Sun also showed on each corner of the wing. Garuda is tthe vehicle of Visnu that symbolized the upper world, turtle is incarnation of Visnu as the symbol of under world. Turtle is deemed to be magical that it can dive to deep ocean and gain water of life. Kalacakra was the reason this temple also called as Candi Lanang or male temple. sun with 7 light is the symbol of life strength and triangle is a sign of world under darkness. In the middle of the triangle there is a circle with 3 frogs heading different sides.
Inside the triangle, depicts a lizard. Other drawings are crowned eel, mimi and crab. All of them are symbol of fertility for human or soil.Triangle with man genital shape is symbol of unity of man and woman, 2 different beings that are coherently cant be separated and symbol or microcosms of human. On the west of second terrace, located stairs to the upper terrace that is not intact.
The third terrace, there is 2 buildings with human and animal relief that tells about Sudamala ballad that strengthen the opinion that this temple is a purification temple. On the 4th terrace, there is Bima statue. The 5th terrace is a yard with roof, called pendapa. On the 6th terrace, there is a Kalacakra statue and a pair of Ganesha. The 7th terrace is also a building with roof and wall-less. The 8th terrace is a room for prayer where there depicts Javanese letter of the year it was built. At the 9th terrace, there are rooms facing east used to keep old items. The north room keeps Sabdapalon statue and the south keeps Nayagenggong statue, they are royal advisers. On the 10th terrace there are 3 rooms and each room has a statue namely : Prabu Wijaya statue, Kalacakra statue. There is a a storage of Mpu Supa weapon . Mpu Supa was a popular weapon maker who was famous and respected. On the 11th terrace, there is a roof-less room, and surrounded by 2 meters stone wall, and 5 m2 size. The main room is King Brawijaya chamber. There is a pool located not far from the chamber, where , it said that, the King’s concubine bathe.
Candi Cetha still used as worship site by Hindu especially on Tuesday and Friday every 1 Sura of Javanese Calendar. Visiting this temple, women may not wear dress, so prepare to wear trousers if you plan to visit this temple. It could be bacause Cetha is a Male Temple. This temple has close relation to Candi Sukuh.