The Surreal Madakaripura Waterfall, Vestige of The Great Majapahit Kingdom
Leaving misty Mount Bromo behind and descending into the Probolinggo Regency, one will find a spectacular sight secluded within the Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park: this is the enchanting Madakaripura Waterfall. Believed to be the final meditation place of military Commander-in-Chief, Gajah Mada, of the great Javanese kingdom of Majapahit in East Java, the towering waterfall is fondly dubbed the eternal waterfall, since its waters never cease to pour down an endless rain of blessings on those fortunate enough to walk underneath it.
Located not too far from Mount Bromo near the village of Sapih, in the Lombang district, Madakaripura Waterfall is about three hours’ drive from the capital of East Java, Surabaya. The spectacular waterfall lies hidden at the end of a deep valley in the foothills of the Tengger mountain range. To reach this, visitors must trek about 20 minutes crossing rivers and a rocky path, set amongst beautiful sceneries along the way, before reaching the entrance. Here a statue of Majapahit‘s great Commander, Gajah Mada, in the seated position of deep meditation greets visitors before they continue further on foot.
An atmosphere of natural grandeur radiates around as the waterfall comes into view. As the rumbling sounds of water grows louder, a spellbinding feature of water curtains cover the path, that will not only please the eyes but also freshen body and soul. Here, nature gracefully pours her endless refreshing gifts, making getting wet quite inevitable. While it may be best to be ready with raincoats or umbrellas, stalls along the trekking path will offer umbrella rentals and plastic bags to protect valuables, such as cameras.
The path ends in a surreal tube-like valley where the staggering 200 meters gallant waterfall highlights the scene. Decorated with a cave on the wall which was believed to be the exact location where Commander in Chief Gajah Mada performed his last meditation, Madakaripura Waterfall is even dubbed as the tallest waterfall in Java and the second tallest waterfall in Indonesia after Sigura-gura Waterfall near Lake Toba, North Sumatra. While the waterfall’s sheer height is by itself already a wonder, the ambience around the area is truly something that needs to be experienced first-hand to be believed.
Surrounded by outstandingly high walls, the Fall flows down into an almost mystical natural chamber. Inside the 200 meters “chamber”, the reflected sunlight shining through onto the wet green moss on the rocky wall accompanied by the ever rumbling sounds of water creates a spectacle unlikely found elsewhere. Decorated with huge boulders, endlessly falling water, and sparkling moss, one only needs to gaze up to the distant sky and immerse oneself in the spellbinding beauty of nature. While the fascinating scene can be captured on camera, the true sensation of being in one of the most outstanding places on earth can only be felt by being there.
According to ancient Javanese 14th century epic poem, Negarakretagama, Madakaripura was a piece of land given to Commander Gajah Mada by the Majapahit King Hayam Wuruk. Gajah Mada himself is the most celebrated military commander in the history of the great Javanese Majapahit Kingdom that thrived between 1293 to 1500AD. Its commander is recognized as the main figure who succeeded in unifying the entire Indonesian Archipelago then under the huge Majapahit empire (that at the time was said to stretch until Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Southern Thailand , the Philippines and East Timor) under his famous oath the “Sumpah Palapa”.
It is said that the source of his overwhelming power and abilities lie within the cave of the Madakaripura Waterfall, where Gajah Mada frequently came to meditate. The great commander eventually chose the place as his last place for mediation before he was believed to have been –what ancient Javanese believed- “Muksha” - or vanished spiritually and physically from the face of the earth, rather than just dying physically. To honor this legacy, many people still visit the Falls to meditate or perform rituals, especially on the eve of 1 Suro, the Javanese New Year. As a place that is historically significant, culturally sacred, and naturally spellbinding, Madakaripura is simply a must, when you visit East Java.
The best way to get to Madakaripura Waterfall is to rent a car from Surabaya or Malang, or include it in the tour package along with Mount Bromo. From Surabaya, capital of East Java, the trip will take a little over three hours, by taking the intercity route to Sidoarjo-Porong-Pasuruan-Probolinggo. Upon reaching Tongas, there will be a sign directing to both Mount Bromo and Madakaripura Waterfall to the right.
The intersection is marked by a small monument in the center of the road. Follow the road for about 20-30 minutes until you reach another sign pointing to Madakaripura Waterfall to the right. From there the road is a bit narrow, but the view will be most pleasing. Follow the road until you reach the entrance to the Madakaripura Waterfall.