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King Airlangga 

One of the earliest and most important Javanese kings, about who anything is known, was Airlangga, who ruled over Java and Bali in the 11th century. During his reign, Airlangga succeeded in uniting his kingdom and established strong cultural contacts further field. Literature flourished and some of the major works of classical Javanese poetry were composed during this period. Not much is left in the way of temple remains, although there are a number of ancient bathing places, man- made cave hermitages and royal tombs to be found. Among them are the caves Selomangleng I and II, located near Kediri and Tulungagung respectively, the bathing places of Jolotundo and Belahan on Mt Penanggungan, as well as the royal tombs of Gunung Kawi, which are carved into a cliff face at Tampaksiring in Bali. These latter are said to have been built for Airlangga's younger brother and his family, who continued to rule in Bali following Airlangga's death.


The famous 'Calcutta Stone', dating from A.D. 1041, describes a terrible calamity, which befell the East Javanese kingdom of Isana in the early years of the 11th century. According to reports preserved from the time, the whole of Java looked like a 'sea of fire'. A rebellion incited by a jealous vassal king resulted in the destruction of the capital of Watugaluh. The reigning king, Dharmawangsa, successor to Sri Makutawangsawardhana, was murdered along with his entire family. Only the young Airlangga, who was aged about 16 at the time, managed to escape unharmed. After spending three or four years in the safety of a forest retreat, Airlangga, as the closest surviving relative to Dharmawangsa, emerged to take over the throne in about 1020. The early part of his reign was spent putting down rebellions and securing the borders of his kingdom. Among his successful military campaigns were those against King Wishnuprabhawa of Wuratan, King Wijaya of Wengker, as well as the subjugation of a powerful queen in the south. In 1032 Airlangga attacked and defeated the ruler of Wurawari, who is believed to have been responsible for the earlier destruction of the old capital of Isana. By the end of Airlangga's reign, in the mid 11th century, the kingdom which he had established is believed to have stretched from Pasuruan in the east, to present day Madiun in the west. Although there is few surviving archaeological remains dating from his time, Airlangga is known to have been a keen patron of the arts, notably literature. In around 1035, the court poet Mpu Kanwa produced the Arjuna Wiwaha, which has to this day remained one of Java's most popular classical stories. Adapted from the Indian Mahabharata epic, the poem recounts episodes in the life of the hero sage Arjuna, who was an incarnation of the Hindu god Wisnu. There are reasons to believe that the poem was a portrait of the life of Airlangga himself. He, like Arjuna, was seen as a divine incarnation, apparently laid to rest at Candi Belahan, where he was portrayed in stone as Wisnu on Garuda. Towards the end of his life, Airlangga was faced with the problem of succession. The rightful heir, the princess Sanggramawijaya, refused the throne, preferring to live her life as a hermit. She is traditionally associated with the legend of Dewi Kilisuci and the cave of Selomangleng at Kediri. Airlangga's realm was, as a result, eventually divided between two of his sons, giving rise to the separate kingdoms Kediri and Janggala. The western half was called Kediri, the eastern Janggala. Contrary to Airlangga's hopes, however, these two kingdoms became bitter rivals, a condition which was to last for more than two centuries. Initially, Janggala was the more prominent, but at the turn of the 12th century Kediri came to the forefront with the appearance of semi-legendary figures like Jayabaya, the prophet king, and Kameswara I, whose royal symbol was a fanged skull. Under Jayabaya, East Java and beyond was re-united. According to Chinese reports, the king of Kediri in the 12th century was only second in wealth to the Caliph of Bagdad. He is said to have traveled around on an elephant, or in a carriage, surrounded by at least 500 guards. The people would all squat down and lower their heads when the king passed. The last ruler of Kediri, Kertajaya, was defeated by Ken Angrok, the founder of the dynasty of Singosari in A.D. 1222.

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