The Legend of Mount Semeru

The legend of Mount Semeru, East Java, tells the exciting tale in old Javanese legend about a shaky island and gods’ attempts to repair it. Mount Semeru is just one of the top-rated mountain destinations in East Java, but not many folks know about the legend of Mount Semeru. As a mountain that’s surrounded by mysteries, myths and old beliefs, the legend of Semeru has found a place among folktale pupils, civilization scholars, and puzzle aficionados. The legend also reveals mix between early Javanese and Hindu beliefs (the latter came to Indonesia from India), telling about the gods’ attempts to “fix” the Isle of Java which was said to become shaky.

Besides the older Legend, Mount Semeru additionally has a reputation as a travel destination that is full of puzzles. These puzzles, legend and popular aquatic legends surrounding the mountain create the travel experience to the mountain even wealthier, especially if you share them with the locals and fellow hikers.

The legend of Mount Semeru informs about the way Java Island (“Jawadwipa”) was unstable and always shaking, along with the gods tried to find a way to ensure it is stable and habitable, mainly because there were more and more humans residing in the island. Bhatara Guru, the maximum god, meditated to take care of the issue, and later concluded that the island had some “claws” to keep it in place. Bhatara Guru eventually advised the other gods to visit India (“Jambudwipa” in old Sanskrit) and take the top of Mount Mandara, which was calling the Mahameru to be turned into a giant pole which could keep Java Island in place.

Since the gods felt that the tasks were too hard, they chose to work together to bring home the two parts of the mountains. Bhatara Brahma, one of the gods, turned into a giant turtle and asked the other warrior to load Mahameru onto his back. Another god, Bhatara Wisnu, turned himself into a giant serpent and tied the Mahameru with his entire body, securing it on Batara Brahma’s back. But during the trip home, the gods began to feel tired, because the Mahameru was so massive. The weight of this mountaintop and the attempts to take it made them so tired and thirsty.

The gods later saw water trickling out of the mountaintop, and since the water looked so inviting and fresh, the exhausted gods chose to drink it. On the other hand, the water was poisonous, and they died instantly after ingesting the water. Bhatara Guru discovered what happened and turned into the toxic water into the water of life (“Tirta Kamandalu”), and revived the gods together with it.

Once they came in Java, the gods tried to position Mahameru in several spots, and also the mountaintop produced smaller boulders that fell and later turned into new hills.

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