Goa Akbar

Useful Information

Location: Semanding, Jarkali, Gedongombo, Kec. Tuban, Kabupaten Tuban, Jawa Timur 62317.
(-6.905420, 112.060555)
Open: All year daily.
Fee: Weekday: Adults IDR 5,000.
Weekend: Adults IDR 10,000.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System LightColoured Light
Dimension: L=1.2 km.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Goa Akbar, Semanding, Jarkali, Gedongombo, Kec. Tuban, Kabupaten Tuban, Jawa Timur 62317.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1984 cave badly damaged due to the construction of Pasar Baru Tuban on top.
1995 cave cleaned and opened to the public.


Its rare that a cave is located below a major city, this one is located in Tuban which has a population of 90,000. Tuban is known as the "City of a Thousand Caves" since there are so many caves in the area. Goa Akbar is located right in the center beneath the central market Pasar Baru Tuban at the Semarang-Surabaya road. Unfortunately the construction of the basar in 1984 badly damaged the cave, as sewage water was dumped into this cave. During the time of regent Sjoekoer Soetomo the cave was cleaned up in 1995 and his successor, regent Hindarto, finally inaugurated the cave as a show cave later in the same year.

There are several explanations for the origin of the name. Some say it was named after the abar or akbar plant that grows at the mouth of the cave. Another theory says it's from the ancient Javanese word "ngabar", but there is disagreement if it translates practice, evaporating, or disappearing. All three terms fit the legend that Goolagong soldiers were trained in Kanoragan to face the Majapahit troops. We guess those theories make more sense in Indonesian language.

The cave was named after a visit by Sunan Bonang (1465-✝1525), one of the Wali Songo, Islamic Saints who spread the Islam in Indonesia. Raden Said was a robber who robbed the rich and gave to the poor, and he used the cave as a hideout. One day he took the staff of an old grandfather, because he thought it was made of gold. He told him, he would distribute the proceeds of the robbery to poor people, but the old man who was Sunan Bonang, did not approve of this idea. He argued that Allah would not accept bad deeds. He showed him a golden palm tree and said if he wanted to get rich without trying, then he should take the golden palm fruit. Raden Said was so impressed by this miracle, that he wanted to be his student. Sunan Bonang ordered Raden Said to meditate while guarding his stick which was plugged into the river bank. During the guarding he fell asleep, and when Sunan Bonang returned three years later, he had been overgrown by roots and grass. Sunan Bonang accepted him as his student, and Raden Said brought him to his hideout. When Sunan Bonang first saw the cave he shouted "Allahu Akbar", and so the cave was named Goa Akbar.

The last part of the legend with the cave is told only locally.

The cave is entered at the bottom of a collapse doline. A long staircase leads down into the entrance hall, which is illuminated by sunlight from outside. Inside is a spring named Kedung Tirta Agung. In 1999 the regent held a thanksgiving ceremony near the spring, and afterwards the flow of the spring increased substantially. The visitors think the water has healing properties. The cave has two religious spaces where visitors have to enter without shoes, and women are not allowed during menstruation.