The Enigmatic Legacy of Majapahit: Unraveling Candi Gede Ing Suro in Palembang’s History

In the bustling city of Palembang, nestled on the banks of the mighty Musi River, there stood a silent witness to the ebb and flow of history. Six weathered structures, made of bricks that whispered tales of centuries past, told a story that transcended religious boundaries and time itself.

These structures, known as Candi Gede Ing Suro, had long been a mystery to the people of Palembang. Local lore referred to them as the resting place of Ki Gede Ing Suro, a Javanese noble who had ventured to Palembang in the 16th century and founded a dynasty that would shape the region’s history. However, recent archaeological discoveries have unveiled a deeper, more complex narrative.

In the annals of history, Majapahit loomed large. The manuscript revealed the empire’s ambitious territorial pursuits, extending beyond the borders of East Java. Under the leadership of Gajah Mada, Majapahit sought to unite these distant lands and territories that acknowledged the sovereignty of the mighty empire. The term “Nusantara” encompassed these regions, as described in the Kakawin Nagarakrtagama and corroborated by epigraphic evidence from Prasasti Tuhanyaru and Prasasti Bendosari.

Scholars like Agus Aris Munandar had argued that these claims were merely political influences, not full-fledged dominion. However, a revelation came in the form of Ying Yai Sheng Lan, penned by Ma Huan, a scribe from the Ming Dynasty. Ma Huan’s accounts described Palembang, once known as shih-li-fo-shih, as falling under Javanese rule. This Ming document presented compelling evidence of Majapahit’s direct control over territories outside East Java.

The mystery deepened with the discovery of Candi Gede Ing Suro. Initially believed to be a Hindu or Buddhist sacred site, the temple complex bore intriguing features. The presence of statues depicting Hindu deities—Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma—hinted at its ancient origins. Fragments of Chinese ceramics dating back to the Yuan and Ming dynasties further established the site’s antiquity, linking it to Majapahit’s era.

What set Candi Gede Ing Suro apart was its dual religious significance. Initially revered by Buddhists during the time of Sriwijaya, it later became a Hindu place of worship under Majapahit. Eventually, during the Kesultanan Palembang period, it found a place in the hearts of the Muslim faithful. The site’s unique amalgamation of beliefs mirrored the rich tapestry of Palembang’s history.

As the sun set over the Musi River, casting a warm golden glow upon the ancient bricks of Candi Gede Ing Suro, the echoes of Majapahit’s legacy reverberated through time. Pilgrims and scholars, visitors from near and far, stood in awe of the silent sentinel that had witnessed the rise and fall of empires. In that moment, the stones spoke, telling a tale of cultural diversity, religious harmony, and the enduring spirit of the people who called Palembang home.