A mosque with a temple-like minaret

Kudus is a small town in Central Java Province, Indonesia, and is located around two hours drive to the east from Semarang. It is said that the town’s name was derived from Al Quds (Jerusalem’s Arabic name). Nowadays, Kudus is known for its kretek clove cigarettes.

The most known landmark of the city is an old mosque called Al-Manar Mosque or Masjid Menara (literally translated as the Tower Mosque) which was built in 1549. The mosque is also considered as one of the oldest mosques throughout Indonesia. It was built by Sunan Kudus, one of the Nine Islamic Holy Men of ancient Java known as “Wali Songo”, whose mausoleum which lies close to the mosque, is still an object of pilgrimage up till now.

the al-manar mosque with its minaret

the al-manar mosque with its minaret

The mosque is known as Masjid Menara (the Tower Mosque), because of its unique minaret. While the mosque itself is a Mogul-style building with its rounded dome and concrete pillars, the minaret is clearly not a common Islamic architecture. It is looked like a Hindu temple, instead. In my opinion, the minaret has a big resemblance to some ancient Hindu-Javanese structures from the Majapahit era of East Java (13th – 15th century). The minaret was made of red terracotta bricks, as also the wall that surrounded the mosque’s compound. At some places along the wall, there are several gateways at the form of “candi bentar” (a split temple like gate), which is also a typical gate of the Hindu Majapahit era palace complex.

From the appearance, it is clear that this is really a kind of acculturation of Hindu and Islam, which is a typical style of Islam spreading in Java at the era of Wali Songo. At that time, the Wali Songo spread their teachings of Islam without any violence, and still accepting the old values which had been grown among the local community long before that. That was why Islam can be accepted easily by the locals.

Even-though Menara Kudus is intended to be the mosque’s minaret, it was not intended to be used by a muezzin; instead it was used to place a big skin drum (“bedug“) which was used to summon people to pray. The drum was placed under a pavilion like shelter at the top of the minaret. On some spots, there are Ming’s style porcelain plates attached to the wall of the minaret for decoration purposes. The porcelain plates bear middle-east style pictures on them. Unfortunately many have been missing  😦

Categories: Travel Pictures | Tags: , , | 67 Comments

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67 thoughts on “A mosque with a temple-like minaret

  1. Woww .. lihat fotonya jadi kangen kampung halaman mas ….thank you 🙂

    thn 2010 kemarin sempat pulkam sama suami, ke menara Kudus juga mas, motret dr luar, nggak sempat masuk ke dalam

    Sempat naik ke atas menaranya nggak mas ? aku pernah sekali ngantar sahabatku dari NC

    Btw, spt biasa foto fotonya keren mas, makasih ya 🙂

  2. cool!!

  3. An amazing building, so well constructed – at least it looks very sturdy for a building of that age. Good pictures Chirs, I enjoyed learning about this place.

  4. keren.. saya belum penah ke KUdus

    • Thanks Jo.
      Anyway, kalau sempat ke Kudus, selain mampir ke Menara Kudus juga bisa sekalian nyicipin the real Soto Kudus 🙂

    • Soto Kudus beda sama Soto Bangkong. Kalau aku gak salah, Soto Bangkong pakai daging ayam, sedangkan Soto Kudus asli pakai daging kerbau karena menurut kepercayaan setempat, orang Kudus pantang makan daging sapi. Sotonya memang agak mirip sih, sama-sama berkuah :). Isi Soto Kudus ada soun, toge, selain juga daging. Pada saat penyajian ditaburi potongan seledri dan bawang putih goreng.

    • Makannya dikucurin jeruk nipis dan dikasih kecap pedas, pasti minta nambah tuh Jo 🙂

    • Betul, dan nyicipin sotonya harus Soto Kudus yang asli ya Mbak 🙂
      Ngomong-ngomong gak ahli soto koq, cuma ini aku lagi punya proyek pribadi pengen ngumpulin foto dan infonya sekalian soal macam-macam soto dan sate dari seluruh Nusantara 🙂

  5. Mas Chris ini membuat orang Indonesia yg baca bangga akan Indonesia nih…

  6. Aku belon kesampean ke kudus😰, padahal pengen nyoba soto kerbau

  7. Jalan-jalan. Jalan jalan jalan. Siap siap makan irit biar bisa jalan jalan lagi. *meres dompet*

  8. wow sudah sampai kudus ajah neh si om….hmmm ada gak foto2 yg berwarnanya om?? yg gak hitam putih 😀

  9. petit4chocolatier

    Interesting and beautiful. I especially like the door to the top!

    • Thanks Judy.
      Just out of my curiosity, why do you like the door?

      • petit4chocolatier

        It intrigues me. A feeling inside of walking up the steps to heaven or something else on that level. And after climbing all the steps, you open the door and find that peacefulness.

    • Oh I see, It is the feeling that intrigued you. Actually, I had the same feeling when I took that picture, and the feeling made me just staring at the stair leading to the door doing nothing for some time.

      • petit4chocolatier

        I could definitely see that happening. It is one of the beauties that you do want to absorb in for as long as you can!

    • It is. Thanks Judy.

  10. Great post and I really enjoy the story lines you add to your photo’s. Thank you for sharing.


  11. It is good the old heritage is not destroyd. Are the religions living peacefully together, or hindu is gone?

    • As far as I know, all religions living peacefully together. More than that, up till now, the people of Kudus are not consuming cow’s meat, because cow is considered sacred for the Hindu.

  12. Nice photos and very informative passage.

  13. Chris itu di lokasi wisata atau pemukiman penduduk? wah bisa tepat bersebelahan gitu ya :).

  14. This is beautiful!

  15. Just amazing!

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