Blitar is a city in East Java.
The main claim to fame of this quiet and charming town is as the birth and burial place of Indonesia's founding father, Sukarno. The other attractions for visitors are the largest ancient Hindu temple in East Java, the very active volcano Mount Kelud and a couple of nice beaches.
Blitar is the capital town of a regency with the same name.
Blitar is well served by buses from other major towns and cities in East Java. Visitors often arrive on an air-con bus from Malang which takes about 2 hours. Other options are Surabaya and Jember (both about 4 hours).
Blitar is on the main East Java line and there are daily services linking it with other cities in the region and in Central Java. Longer distance rail access from Jakarta involves a change in Jogjakarta or Surabaya. Check the PT Kereta Api (Persero) website for detailed schedules.
The main need to get around Blitar in any way other than on foot is to visit Candi Penataran. Regular minibuses ply this route departing from Jalan Veteran in town and take about 30 minutes to reach there. If you ask the driver for "Makam Bung Karno" he will drop you as close as he gets to the Sukarno grave site.
- Candi Penataran (leave Blitar on the road heading north towards Sumberingin. After about 10 km at the village of Ngeglok you really cannot miss the temple.). This is the largest ancient Hindu temple in the East Java region. It dates from the early Majapahit period and texts clearly indicate that it was of considerable importance. Prime Minister Gajah Mada visited here 4 times for example. It is a large complex with 3 courtyards and in many ways strongly recalls a modern day Balinese temple. There are a number of interesting relics including a substantial wall relief depicting the Ramayana. Rp 5,000.
- Gunung Kelud (arrange motorcycle or car transport at Candi Penataran, motorbike transport is to prefer since the views from the road are stunningly beautiful, the price is for a trip up to the crater and down again with a motorbike). A semi-active volcano whose eruption in 1919 killed over 5,000. It is still active and sent a pylon of smoke 2.5 km into the air in 2007. The nature at the top is amazing and the trip up is maybe even more beautiful. At the top there are also warm, sulfurous hot springs one can bathe in. Rp 70,000.
- Sukarno Museum, Jl Sultan Agung 59, Blitar, East Java. This museum and library is housed in the property where Sukarno lived as a young boy. Full of Sukarno memorabilia, papers, photographs etc and very much worth a visit in conjunction with a trip to the grave site.
- Sukarno's grave (Makam Bung Karno). This fits it well with a visit to Candi Penataran as it is on the same road mid-way between Blitar and the temple. Indonesia's first president and independence hero Sukarno has undergone a huge rehabilitation in the eyes of Indonesians since the downfall of the Soeharto dictatorship and his grave here is flamboyantly decorated and worth a quick stop after seeing Penataran.
- Tambakrejo Beach (30 km due south from Blitar - just follow the only reasonably major road leading south from Blitar). This is an extensive and attractive 10 km stretch of white sand beach that is more often than not virtually deserted. It is not safe for swimming though.
Blitar has a typical selection of local restaurants (including several good Chinese). The areas in the town centre on Jalan Veteren and Jalan Merdeka are as good a place as any to look. If you are in any doubt at all, the golden rule applies: follow the local crowds.
The restaurant at Hotel Tugu is truly top class but you do of course pay for that privilege.
There are several losmen type places in the town centre and budget travellers are urged to just turn up here. You will not have a problem finding somewhere to stay.
- Hotel Tugu (Sri Lestari), Jl Merdeka 173,Blitar 66111, East Java, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. The smart side of this hotel is very much along the lines of the other 2 splendid Tugu Hotels (Bali and Malang). Housed in an converted colonial building it is magnificently adorned with Javanese antiques. From Rp 300,000 to 2,000,000.
- Malang, the cultural heart of East Java, is less than 2 hours away by road
- Head west to Central Java and the delights of Yogyakarta, Borobudur and Prambanan