Have you ever visited Taman Chandra Wilwatikta in Pandaan?
It’s located right in front of Dewi Sri Restaurant, on the border of Pandaan and Prigen (Pasuruan – East Java). You won’t miss the eye-catcher of the site: they’ve got a pack of deer confined right at the gateway. On weekends, parents take their children to see and feed these animals, as we often observe. In fact, the impression has taken root in my mind for years that I thought of the site as a sort of wildlife preservation.
I was badly mistaken!
Last week, I took a walk to the site and found out it’s got a main office, a large seminary room, a dining hall, some cottages, and an outdoor amphitheatre that can take in 1,000 audience! I took a long time strolling around the amphitheatre, wondering what could possibly have happened to the site. Grand and spectacular it must have been! Even the two gigantic giant statues and the two humongous banyan trees (one on each side of the theatre) seemed small compared to the whole stone seats surrounding them.
But now, the place seems to be deserted. Moss and thickets overgrow on the stony paths and isles. The breeze sweeping the leafy trees around it whispers the coldness and forlornness of the site, as if weeping and recalling a long lost past.
Chandra Wilwatikta used to be the centre of art exhibition in East Java, from dancing, theatre, and wayang orang to music concerts. But its popularity began to diminish post-monetary crisis in 1998. More and more interests were drawn toward the recuperation of East Java’s economic condition that eventually art lost its importance and became mere accessory. Chandra Wilwatikta was then abandoned.
Nowadays, it is mostly used to hold seminars and trainings for civil servants. On several occasions, it also holds dancing and concerts, but none too often. In the midst of East Java’s busyness and financial growth, the site lies dormant – as still as a slumbering giant…