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Blitar’s ancient Gedog temple and banyan trees hold mysteries

Duncan Graham

The Jakarta Post

Blitar, East Java  /  Wed, February 26, 2020  /  05:01 pm
Blitar’s ancient Gedog temple and banyan trees hold mysteries

Time capsule: Ancient carvings of women at the Gedog temple in Blitar, East Java. (JP/Erlinawati Graham)

The strangler fig, commonly known as the banyan, is one of Indonesia’s five symbols of unity, representing one state with many cultural roots. A magnificent specimen of banyan sits just outside Blitar in East Java, colonizing almost 100 square meters of the surrounding land. It may have started growing during the Dutch ascendancy in the region. If so, the invaders may have noted nature’s expansion as a mirror of their own across the archipelago.  One of the tree’s relatives in India is reported to be more than 550 years old. The tree in Blitar has thrived not only by living in fecund fields but also because the water table is only a few meters below ground, easily visible in a large hole. That hole has been excavated behind a small cluster of graves, so close that only a brick wall protects the remains of Yohanes Sunyoto from the elements. His headstone ha...