Kediri, City of Cigarette

Kediri centuries ago

On this article, visitingjava wants to share information about Kediri. Although this city is smaller than Surabaya, Malang or other major cities in East Java province but the existance of Kediri is important for overall economic pulse in that province.

Kediri city long time ago was known as an area of a Hindu kingdom (Kahuripan) that ruled by the famous king Airlangga during the Eastern Javanese conquer period between 10th – 15th century. King Airlangga established Kediri as a regional settlement (near the Brantas River banks) to support the main kingdom area which called Dahanapura. The name of Kediri or Kadiri was derived from sanskrit word Khadri which means Indian Mulberry (In Latin it is called Morinda Citrifolia). Local people of Java called it Mengkudu or also known as Pace, the fruit with bitter taste (i used that fruit to play “throw them up”with my brothers when i was a child), and strange smell (that’s why it’s very fun when your “mengkudu throw” hits someone, booom that person have to go for shower).

Back to kediri, after the death of king Airlangga, Kahuripan kingdom was chaos and it was divided into two smaller kingdoms. First one is Panjalu that claimed the western area of Kahuripan kingdom and second is Janggala, that secured the eastern part. Dahanapura or often called Daha became the capital of Panjalu (Kediri) while the rest of Kahuripan kingdom became the capital of Janggala. Today, the name of Airlangga’s kingdom, Kahuripan became very famous for people in Java since it is used as a name of a train with route Kediri-Bandung.

(Left : King Airlangga Statue with Garuda Wisnu Kencana and Right : One of historical sites from the era of King Airlangga)

(Left : King Airlangga Statue with Garuda Wisnu Kencana and Right : One of historical sites from the era of King Airlangga)

During the epic battle era between many kingdoms in Java, Kediri city passed on to major kingdoms such as Singosari, Majapahit, Demak and Mataram (Jogjakarta). In the year 1740s, Kediri city was controlled by Cakraningrat IV  ( a regent from Madura Island) and this city once again passed on to other hand (The Dutch – VOC) during the imperialism era.

Kediri became one of the cities in East Java that helped the Resistance Movement of The Great General Sudirman during the guerilla war in year 1945 – 1949. At that time, the Dutch launched Military Agression to conquer Indonesia once again after Soekarna-Hatta proclaimed Indonesian Independence on August, 17th 1945 and Kediri supported the guerilla soldiers with anything they have. There was only one hope for those people who fought bravely, the survival of (young) Republic of Indonesia.

Kediri, activities and attractions today

Live with big struggle during many battles in Java, Kediri survives and grows into a small yet important city in East Java. The long road to be an ideal living place for its inhabitants that reached 252,000 people match with its motto Joyo Ing Boyo which means Glory in The Catastrophe. Extremely the motto can be understand as Living in Dangerously or Stay Alive even Dying. With total area reached 63,4 km2 (square-kilometers), land elevation about 3 m above the sea level and one main river (Brantas River), this geographical condition simply explained that Kediri is ideal for farming and industry. It was Gudang Garam (a cigarette company) that believed someday Kediri will be famous just like centuries ago and that hope was granted by god. The founder of Gudang Garam (Tjoa Ing Hwie or also known as Surya Wonowidjojo) started his venture on June 26th, 1958 and as we can see (today) the company has more than 40,000 workers to run the big business in cigarette industry.  The Gudang Garam buildings (factory, warehouse, etc) can be found almost on every corner of Kediri city and surely this company plays important part for city development since it was established more than 50 years ago.

(Left : Gudang Garam HQ and Right : Premium Products of Gudang Garam)

(Left : Gudang Garam HQ and Right : Premium Products of Gudang Garam)

Some of Gudang Garam premium products were exported to many countries in Europe, North America, South America, Australia and Asia. Other interesting record of this company is their sponsorship involvement for some of world class events such as World Cup Finals and Winter Games.

So, what is other interesting points of Kediri? Besides the cigarette industry, Kediri also has other attractions which can’t be missed if you come to this city. First is the mount Kelud which located about 27 kilometers to the east of Kediri city. This is an active volcano and Kelud’s eruption was recorded more than 5 times since 1901. Its last volcanic activity was in year 2007 and the lake’s temperature which is located near this mountain reached 74 celcius. Before 20th century, Kelud’s eruption was recorded in the year 1586 with total victims reached 10.000 lives. The good point is, we dont have to worry to visit this beautiful mount Kelud since local government has developed eruption management system in year 1926 to help reducing the negative effect of Kelud’s eruption. The government created a dedicated path to manage the lava flows after the eruption so the lava didn’t harm people who lives near mount Kelud.

Done with adrenaline adventure at Kelud, next we can visit Puhsarang which ideal for people who wants to seek a haven and ideal place to speak with god. Puhsarang is a name of spiritual complex which located in Kediri regency. It is a beautiful place to visit and some people also buy various souvenirs which displayed at local market of Puhsarang. During local school vacation month (June-July) Puhsarang is very crowded so it is recommended to visit this place around August-Oct. Some people believes the water from a fountain which can be found at Puhsarang is a Holy Water that can give goodness to everyone who drink it. There are also Holy Statue of Maria and a Holy Cave which often used by local people to pray and meditate during certain season. Well, if you are interested to a holy/spiritual tour then Puhsarang is worth to visit while you are exploring Kediri.

(Left : The Adrenaline Rush Adventure route of Mount Kelud and Right : Puhsarang Sites)

(Left : The Adrenaline Rush Adventure route of Mount Kelud and Right : Puhsarang Sites, nice and cozy)

Like most of other cities in Java, Kediri also has a historical street named Daha (yes, this name reminds us of the ancient city Dahanapura or Daha of Kahuripan kingdom) which established by King Airlangga centuries ago. The street itself is believed as the main inner city area of Dahanapura so that’s why people of Kediri very proud of this historical street. Daha street is very crowded today and became one of protocol streets in Kediri. Goverment buildings, banks, hotels and people activities became a living ornament for this street every day.

(Left : Mall of Kediri and Right : The Festival of Dhoho street)

(Left : Mall of Kediri and Right : The Main Gate of Dhoho street festival)

Not so far from Daha street we can find many stores that offer wide options of local snacks. Guess what? Kediri also famous for its Tofu, yeah its a real deal tofu. The tofu named Tahu Takwa and it is different from other city’s tofu, Tahu Sumedang which can be found in Sumedang, West Java. The characteristic of Tahu Takwa is strong in shape and yellow in color. When you sliced Tahu Takwa, you will find that the inner color is white and it has specific smell (very crisp smell). To try how its taste simply fry it (even without addtional salt) and you will get a crispy snack right in front of your nose, tadaaa don’t forget to share some for your friends. Besides Tahu Takwa, another snack which originaly from Kediri is called Getuk Pisang. It is a kind of Banana sweet cake that wrapped with banana leaf and most people likes it as a side dish when relaxing with a cup of tea.

(Left : Getuk Pisang is ready to take away for gift and Right : Tahu Takwa, the real deal tofu from Kediri)

(Left : Getuk Pisang is ready to take away for gift and Right : Tahu Takwa, the “real deal” tofu from Kediri)

Kediri’s culinary line-up is somehow similar with Surabaya and most cities in East Java but sure you can try Rujak Cingur and Pecel Tumpang Kediri. Although most people in Indonesia likes Pecel Madiun (another city in East Java next to Kediri) but Pecel Tumpang Kediri also good in taste.Another dish is Rujak Cingur and it is one of the most popular dishes for travelers. Rujak Cingur is a mixed of vegetables and noodles which enriched with Cingur (Cingur is Javanese language and it means cow’s nose in English). Yeah, it a kind of Fear Factor challenge isn’t it?? Whoaa, check it out Joe, i ate a plate of cow’s nose in Kediri.

(Left : Pecel Tumpang Kediri, it is spicy and Right : Rujak Cingur, the cow's nose mixed dish)

(Left : Pecel Tumpang Kediri, it is spicy and Right : Rujak Cingur, the cow’s nose mixed dish)

Ok, stop playing around with that nose and we can continue the exploration in Kediri to Alun-alun (The City Courtyard) and Gumul Monument. These two places has different things to offer. Alun- alun Kediri considered as an old-school place to hang out for youngsters in Kediri and the modern hang out spot is Gumul Monument. Well, some people might say it is similar to Arc de Triomphe which can be found in Paris, France but as you can see, Gumul Monument is different from Arc de Triomphe. This place is very crowded at night (especially saturday night) when most of youngsters having fun with their friends. Personally, i think Gumul Monument is quite interesting for a photo session spot but make sure you come in the morning to get the best (natural) light.

(Left : Alun - alun Kediri at Night and Right : Gumul Monument a.k.a. Simpang Lima Gumul Monument, pretty interesting isn't it?)

(Left : The old-school Alun – alun Kediri at Night and Right : Gumul Monument a.k.a. Simpang Lima Gumul Monument, pretty interesting isn’t it?)

For football fans, Kediri recorded as a city that owns a title of Football League champ in year 2003 and 2006. Yes, their Football Club which named PERSIK brought the Indonesia Football League Champ Title for the people of Kediri. This club has a clean track record in league although they got a fanatic supporters which called PERSIKMANIA.The other name for PERSIK is White Tiger and they played every home match in league at Brawijaya Stadium. PERSIK also played in international league match in year 2004 and 2007 but White Tiger needs to be patient and try harder next time to reach the top rank of the most prestigious asian club league, the AFC Champions League. One of the most notable football players of PERSIK was Christian Gonzales, striker from Uruguay who joined Indonesian National Football Team after he changed his citizenship into Indonesia. Gonzales appeared for 106 caps and scored 100 goals during his career with PERSIK between year 2005-2008, a sensational record for football player at that time and he got a credit as a Top Scorer in Indonesia Football League.

(Left : Gonzales with Persik Jersey, Middle : Scored a goal while playing for Indonesia National Football Team and Right : PersikMania, fanatic supporter group of Persik)

(Left : Gonzales with PERSIK Jersey, Middle : Scored a goal while playing for Indonesian National Football Team and Right : PERSIKMANIA, fanatic supporter group of Persik)

Altough there are malls and other consumerism icons in this city but uniquely most people in Kediri lives with humble mind-set. They are rarely spend big money to buy something new and that’s one of the reasons why living cost in this city is not as high as another city in East Java. If you have time to explore Kediri Regency, then you can visit Pare, a place for many people accross Indonesia to learn english.

Kampung Inggris which located in Tulungrejo is a perfect place to understand the other side of Kediri. There are no boundaries between people to talk in english, no matter how old they are and no matter they speak correctly or not (in english), people are enjoying this situation. This situation created for the first time in the year 1985 when Mr. Kalend Osen established BEC (Basic English Course, the first English course in Tulungrejo). Today BEC is the biggest English Course and students who graduated from this Course established other education centre to support the popularity of English Speaking habit in Tulungrejo. Kampung Inggris (Tulungrejo) in Pare is very famous in Indonesia, even some of foreign students (Australia, United States and Canada) came to this place and join the english class as native speakers.

(Left : BEC, the first english learning center in Pare, Kediri and Right : Students are happy joining English class at Pare, Kediri)

(Left : BEC, the first english learning center in Pare, Kediri and Right : Students from every province in Indonesia are happy joining English class at Pare, Kediri)

The education curriculum in Pare is combined with spiritual learning so students who joined the class could be a good (english) speaker and mature person. Direct conversation in english was a good idea since student needs to actualize themselves as well as test their skills in english. Some of english learning courses in Pare also provide guesthouse for students who came from other province since they have to stay at Pare for about 3-4 months to join the english course program completely.

How to reach Kediri

There are various ways to reach kediri but the most popular one in by train. The first checkpoint could be Surabaya, Jogjakarta or Bandung. Those are cities with direct train route to Kediri. From Surabaya we can go to kediri by ecomonic class train named Daha while from Bandung we can choose economic class train Kahuripan and from Jogjakarta simply buy a ticket of Malioboro Express train service. All of those trains will arrive at Kediri Station and as second option we can go to Kediri by bus.

(Left : The historical Kediri train station which already operated since 1892 and Right : Tamanan Bus Terminal)

(Left : The historical Kediri train station which already operated since 1892 and Right : Tamanan Bus Terminal)

There are many options of bus providers from other cities which has route to Kediri and the bus will arrive at Tamanan Bus Terminal. From Tamanan Bus Terminal we can go to inner city area of Kediri by Becak or Angkot (minibus transport service). No need to worry about the accommodation in Kediri although the city is not specified as a tourism city like Jogjakarta. Some of good hotels are Bukit Daun Resort and Lotus Garden Hotel & Restaurant. Those hotels offer different sensation while stays at Kediri but if you want to stay at low-budget hotel it is easy to find it near Kediri Station.

(Left : The exotic Bukit Daun Resort and Right : One of the most popular hotels in Kediri, Lotus Hotel & Restaurant)

(Left : The exotic Bukit Daun Resort and Right : One of the most popular hotels in Kediri, Lotus Hotel & Restaurant)

Kediri surely not as big as Surabaya and not so popular like Malang but something small doesn’t mean they got nothing to share and Kediri has shown to us how they survive (as a city and society) to contribute positively for East Java Province. I  believe from a small step there will be a big leap and hopefully the motto Glory in The Catastrophe from Kediri could be an inspiration for us to keep focus, never give up a change and walk on the good lines in our life.

By Amar Pujo Wicaksono

(Contributor at



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