Timeline of Indonesian History

about 100

“Dvipantara” or “Jawa Dwipa” kingdom is reported by Indian scholars to be in Java and Sumatra.

Prince Aji Saka introduces writing system to Java based on scripts of southern India.

Hindu kings rule the area around Kutai on Kalimantan.

“Langasuka” kingdom founded around Kedah in Malaya.

about 130

Salaka or Salanka kingdom, Salakanegara, is founded in West Java.

about 400

Taruma kingdom or Tarumanegara flourishes in West Java. In these early days, many new plants were introduced into Indonesia, including pepper and teak.

The Naskah Wangsakerta, a document written in Cirebon many years later, mentions the first king of Tarumanegara as taking power in the year 358, and lists a line of kings through 669.

Hinduism, one of Indonesia’s five religions.

Early civilization in Java and Sumatra was heavily influenced by India. Today’s cultures in Indonesia, and even the language, still show influences from the Sanskrit language and literature.

(The first thousand years or so of this timeline are not well-documented. Dates are approximate.)

about 425

Buddhism reaches Sumatra. Records from these days in Indonesia are scarce, but we do know that sophisticated cultures already existed. The kings and cities of Sumatra and Java are mentioned in records from China, because ambassadors were sent there. Arabs and Persians knew about the area from traders, and even the Greeks and Romans had very distant reports.

Records from inside Indonesia are very few, though, since writing was done on palm leaves and other materials that did not survive well. Much of our knowledge comes from stone buildings and inscriptions. By the time we start to get a clear history of Java and Sumatra, there are already great buildings in stone, fine sculptures, classical music and dance, much as we know them today.

about 500

Beginning of Srivijaya kingdom near Palembang, in Sumatra.

about 600

Melayu kingdom flourishes around present-day Jambi on Sumatra. Chinese records from around this time mention kingdoms at Jambi and Palembang on Sumatra, and three kingdoms on Java, a western kingdom related to the Taruma of inscriptions, a central kingdom called “Kalinga”, and an eastern kingdom with a capital perhaps near Surabaya or Malang.

about 670

Chinese traveller I Ching visits Palembang, capital of Srivijaya.

Hindu temples built in the high Dieng plateau of central Java.

About this time, the first Sunda kingdom rises after the end of the Tarumanegara kingdom.


Srivijaya takes the Melayu kingdom at Jambi, and sends an expedition against the kingdoms in Java. Stone tablets dated 683 and 686 from southern Sumatra and Bangka describe the military campaigns of Srivijaya against Melayu and Java. They are the oldest known writings in any Malayo-Polynesian language.

about 700

Suwawa kingdom flourishes in North Sulawesi. By now, Srivijaya had also conquered Kedah, on the Malay peninsula.

about 732

Sanjaya founds the Sanjaya line of princes in central Java.

about 770

Sailendra King Vishnu (or Dharmatunga) begins building Borobudur.

Beginning of building activity on the plain of Prambanan.

Buddhism, one of Indonesia’s five religions.


Sailendra king Vishnu is succeeded by Indra (or Sangramadhanamjaya).

about 790

Sailendra kingdom attacks and defeats Chenla (today Cambodia); rules over Chenla for about 12 years. The Sailendra kings remembered that their ancestors came from what is now Thailand or Cambodia.

about 812

Sailendra king Indra is succeeded by Samaratunga.

about 825

Borobudur is finished under king Samaratunga.

Borobudur is a huge Buddhist monument covering a volcanic hill a few miles between present-day Magelang and Yogyakarta. It is in levels representing the stages to enlightenment. The large central stupa is empty. The many beautiful relief sculptures may have been used to educate young monks.

about 835

Samaratunga passes away. His young son Balaputra has the throne taken from him by the father of his sister’s husband, Patapan of Sanjaya, who replaces Buddhism on Java with Hinduism. By this time, Buddhist culture had spread as far east as Lombok.

about 838

Patapan is succeeded by his son Pikatan (or Jatiningrat).


Tidore is visited by a representative of the Caliph al-Mutawakkil from Baghdad.

about 850

Pikatan defeats forces of Balaputra, then resigns the throne to become an ascetic. He is succeeded by Kayuwani.

Balaputra, claimant to the Sailendra throne, escapes to Sumatra and takes power in Srivijaya.

King Warmadewa rules on Bali.

From about this time we have a version of the Ramayana epic in the Old Javanese language. The work is sophisticated, and there were probably many earlier such works in Old Javanese that have not survived.


Sanjaya King Balitung takes power in central Java. Stone tablets of King Balitung are the first mention of “Mataram” in central Java.


Sanjaya King Daksa succeeds Balitung in Mataram. He begins building the major Hindu temples at Prambanan.


Sanjaya King Tulodong succeeds Daksa; reigns until 921.


Sanjaya King Wawa takes throne of Mataram, rules until 928.


Sanjaya King Mpu Sindok takes power. He moves the court from Mataram to East Java (near Jombang). A major eruption of Mount Merapi in 928 or 929 may have been the reason that the king of Mataram and many of his subjects moved east.


Sri Isana Tunggawijaya, daughter of Mpu Sindok, succeeds Mpu Sindok as ruler in East Java.

about 975

King Udayana of Bali, father of Airlangga, is born.


Dharmavamsa becomes king of Mataram. He conquers Bali and founds a settlement in western Kalimantan. Dharmavamsa is also remembered for ordering the translation of the Mahabharata into Javanese.


Dharmavamsa and Mataram send an army overseas to attack Srivijaya and take Palembang, but fail.


King Chulamanivarmadeva of Srivijaya sends an ambassador to China to ask for protection against the forces of Dharmavamsa from Java.


Srivijaya attacks and destroys the capital of Mataram. The palace is burned, and Dharmavamsa is killed. Airlangga (then 15 years old) escapes the destruction. Several years of chaos in eastern Java follow.


Rajendra Chola, king of Coromandel in India, attacks Srivijaya.


Airlangga takes rule in eastern Java, founds Kahuripan kingdom, makes peace with Srivijaya, protects both Hindus and Buddhists. Over several years extends his rule over central Java, eastern Java, and Bali, uniting areas that had fallen into disunity. Airlangga is remembered in today’s Indonesia as a model of religious tolerance. He spent his early years living in the forests as an ascetic.


Rajendra Chola of southern India takes Malay peninsula from Srivijaya for twenty years. Chola raiders attack Jambi and other areas of Sumatra.

Airlangga extends the power and influence of Kahuripan as Srivijaya is weakened.

Under Airlangga, the ports of the north coast of Java, especially Surabaya and Tuban, became large important trading centers for the first time. This was partly due to the weakening of Srivijaya, which made trading there unsafe.

Around this time, Tumasik was a small kingdom on the site of today’s Singapore. It may have been influenced by the newcomers from southern India.

Also around this time, the Panai kingdom was flourishing in the Batak areas of northern Sumatra.


Airlangga marries the daughter of Sangrama Vijayottungavarman, King of Srivijaya.


Airlangga divides Kahuripan into two kingdoms, Janggala (around today’s Malang) and Kediri, for his two sons, and abdicates to live the life of an ascetic. He passes away four years later.


Vira Rajendra, king of Coromandel, conquers Kedah from Srivijaya. More Chola raids occur on Sumatra.


Around this time, the Tidung kingdom is founded around Tarakan in eastern Kalimantan.


Kingdom (later Sultanate) of Tidore is founded.


Kamesvara becomes king of Kediri (until 1130). He marries a princess of Janggala and reunites the two kingdoms.


King Joyoboyo takes rule in Kediri until 1157. Joyoboyo is remembered for a prophecy that Indonesia would be ruled by a white race for a long time, then a yellow race for a short time, then be independent. His reign was also a golden age of Old Javanese literature.

During this time, Ternate was a vassal state of Kediri.


Ken Angrok, local ruler of Tumapel, defeats the forces of Kediri (Battle of Genter).


Ken Angrok founds the Singhasari kingdom as King Rajasa. Putri Dedes was the wife of Ken Angrok. She was the daughter of a Buddhist priest who was stolen away by the governor of Tumapel (near Malang) on Java. Ken Angrok himself stole Putri Dedes away from her first husband to be his wife, but she was already pregnant, and her son (later King Anusapati) was actually the son of the governor, Tunggul Ametung. Eventually Ken Angrok conspired to have Tunggul Ametung killed so that he could become ruler of Tumapel.

Tumapel paid tribute to Kediri until Ken Angrok became powerful enough to conquer Kediri for himself in 1222. The last ruler of Kediri, Kertajaya, was considered cruel and overbearing.

Putri Dedes was long remembered as the mother of the royal line of Singhasari, and later Majapahit, Mataram, Yogya and Solo.


Ken Angrok dies, and is succeeded by Anusapati. By now, Jambi was an independent kingdom on Sumatra.


Anusapati dies after a peaceful 20-year reign. Tohjaya, son of Ken Angrok by a concubine, becomes king of Singhasari. Tradition says that the kings of Singhasari during this period were all murdered by their successors, as part of the feud arising from Ken Angrok stealing away Putri Dedes.


Tohjaya is killed in a rebellion and replaced as king by by Wisnuwardhana, son of Anusapati.


Baab Mashur Malamo becomes king of Gapi (later Ternate).


King Wisnuwardhana of Singhasari dies, and is succeeded by Kertanegara. Kertanegara promotes a mixture of Hinduism and Buddhism.


Kertanegara begins a campaign to unite the various kingdoms around Sumatra and Java (whether by alliance or military conquest is debated). Historical records tell very different stories about Kertanegara. Some say that he was a drunkard and lustful; others that he was an ascetic and saint.


A group of Javanese from Kediri, unhappy with Kertanegara, settle around Kutai in Kalimantan. Around this time, the Thai kingdom of Sukhotai began to take the parts of the Malay peninsula that had belonged to Srivijaya.


Muslims from Jambi send an embassy to Kublai Khan.


Kertanegara takes Bali for Singhasari. The last Warmadewa king of Bali is killed.


Kublai Khan sends messengers to Singhasari to demand tribute; Kertanegara slashes their faces and sends them home.


Kertanegara takes the Melayu kingdom on Sumatra around Jambi. Around this time, Kertanegara also took the Sunda area of western Java, uniting the entire island.


Marco Polo visits Sumatra and Java.

Kublai Khan prepares invasion fleet of 1000 ships to take Java.

Kertanegara is killed in a court rebellion; his son-in-law Wijaya retreats and founds a new court at Majapahit (today Trowulan), with the help of Arya Wiraraja, the local ruler of Madura.

Bali breaks away from Singhasari under the Pejeng kings at Ubud.

November Mongol fleet leaves for Java; lands at Tuban.

Majapahit was one of the few countries of that time to defeat a Mongol invasion, along with Japan and Egypt. However, the Mongol fleet was hit by a typhoon along the way, and was refused permission to land in Champa (in today’s Vietnam) to take on supplies. By the time the fleet reached Tuban, the army was sickened and weak.


Wijaya forms alliance with Mongol forces against the remainder of Singhasari in Kediri, led by Jayakatwang.

March Combined force of Mongol/Chinese soldiers and Majapahit takes Kediri.

Wijaya returns to Trowulan, then attacks the Mongols in a surprise attack. The Mongols retreat and leave Java.

November Wijaya is enthroned as king Kertarajasa Jayawardhana of new Majapahit.

Candi Singasari, near today’s Malang.

Wijaya being crowned King Kertarajasa of Majapahit, in a sculpture from that time.

According to tradition, Vijaya married all four daughters of the former king Kertanegara. Some think that this tradition is actually symbolic, that the four daughters represent Bali, Madura, Sumatra (Jambi) and Kalimantan, the outlying areas dependent on the kingdom.


Rebellion against King Kertarajasa of Majapahit, led by Rangga Lawe, is put down.


Pasai in Sumatra converts to Islam. Sultan Malek Saleh is the first Muslim ruler in what is now Indonesia.


Rebellion against Kertarajasa, led by Sora, breaks out. It lasts for two years before being suppressed.


Jayanegara becomes king of Majapahit.


Rebellion led by Nambi, son of a former chief minister, is put down by Jayanegara. Some observers think that the rebellions against Majapahit were due to the ongoing policy of expansion, that Javanese members of the court disliked “outsiders” from Sumatra and other areas having influence.


Rebellion led by Kuti forces Jayanegara to flee the court for the countryside. An uprising against Kuti allows Jayanegara to return to court. During the rebellion, Jayanegara was accompanied by a young leader of his bodyguards, Gajah Mada. Gajah Mada slipped back into the city in disguise, and started a rumor that King Jayanegara had been killed. This news was very unpopular among the public, which told Gajah Mada that Kuti was disliked and the King should try to retake his throne.


Jayanegara is assassinated, possibly with the help of Gajah Mada. Tribhuwana Wijayatungga Dewi, daughter of Kertarajasa, is titular head until 1350. Tradition says that King Jayanegara had stolen the wife of Gajah Mada. Gajah Mada, now a high-ranking minister, conspired to have a doctor kill the King on his sickbed, then turned around and had the doctor executed for this deed.

Around this time, Odoric of Pordonone, a Franciscan monk from Italy, visited Java, Sumatra, and Kalimantan.


Gajah Madah becomes patih or chief minister of Majapahit, and rules as regent.


Kingdom of Pajajaran is founded, with its capital at Pakuan near today’s Bogor. One of the few areas that were not conquered by Majapahit was the Sundanese area of West Java, the Kingdom of Pajajaran. It occasionally paid tribute to Majapahit, but was known for its independent behavior.


Hayam Wuruk is born to Tribhuwana Wijayatungga Dewi; heir to line of Majapahit.


Force under Gajah Madah defeats the Pejeng king of Bali, Dalem Bedaulu, and takes Bali for Majapahit.
Gajah Madah in a statue from the 1300s.

With Gajah Madah as chief minister, the kingdom of Majapahit gained control or collected tribute from most of what is now Indonesia. He is remembered for the “Palapa Oath”, saying that he would refuse to eat spices in his food (palapa) until all the islands around were united under one rule. Today in Yogyakarta, the university is named for him.

Around this time, traditional chronicles say that Majapahit collected tribute from “Makassar, Gowa, Banda, Sumbawa, Ende, Timor, Ternate, Sulu, Seram, Manila, and Burni (Brunei?)”. Palembang and Bali were also within Majapahit’s sphere, but were more troublesome.


Arab traveller and writer Ibn Battuta visits Pasai on Sumatra. Ibn Battuta reported that the Muslims he met followed the madhhab or legal school of Shafi’i, which is the school followed by almost all Muslim Indonesians today.


Adityavarman, king of Melayu or Jambi, rules Minangkabau for Majapahit. Adityavarman had been kept at the court of Majapahit as a boy. When he came of age, he ruled over Melayu as a vassal of Majapahit, and extended the influence of Majapahit into the Minangkabau areas of Sumatra.


Hayam Wuruk becomes King of Majapahit.

Majapahit conquers the Islamic kingdoms of Pasai and Aru (later Deli, near Medan) in northern Sumatra.

The poet Mpu Tantular of Majapahit, who lived about this time, is remembered for coining the motto “Bhinneka Tunggal Eka”, which is Indonesia’s national motto today. (The meaning is very similar to the United States’ “E Pluribus Unum”: “Unity in Diversity”.)


Hayam Wuruk asks to marry the daughter of the King of Pajajaran. The King of Pajajaran agrees, and travels to Bubat in eastern Java for the ceremonies. At the last minute, Gajah Mada insists that the daughter be handed over as an act of tribute from a dependent king. The King of Pajajaran refuses to submit, violence breaks out, and the entire company from Pajajaran is killed. Pajajaran becomes a dependency of Majapahit for several years.


Gajah Madah passes away. The many responsibilities that he handled are considered to be too burdensome for one normal person, so his duties are divided between four new government posts.


Majapahit sends a navy against Palembang, a remnant of Srivijaya, and conquers it. The King of Palembang sent a courier to China, offering his kingdom to the emperor in exchange for protection. The Emperor of China accepted the offer, and sent officials in return, but by the time the officials got to Palembang, it had already been conquered by Majapahit, and they were executed.


Empu Jamatka founds Banjarmasin.


Hayam Wuruk passes away and is succeeded by Wikramawarddhana. Another son of Hayam Wuruk, Wirabumi, disputes the succession. Beginning of the decline of Majapahit.


Aceh converts to Islam.


War of succession begins in Majapahit, lasting four years, with the rebellious forces led by Wirabumi. The power of Majapahit begins to lessen.Paramesvara, a prince of Palembang (and descendant of the Sailendras), is driven from Palembang to Tumasik (today’s Singapore), then ruled by a local chief under the King of Siam. Paramesvara kills the chief and takes Tumasik for himself.
Temple complex at Besakih, in Gelgel on Bali: Around this time, the kings of Gelgel began to rule as “dewa agung”, or chief king, in Bali.

Also around this time, Palembang fell under the control of Chinese pirates.


Paramesvara is driven from Tumasik by the King of Pahang (or perhaps Patani), acting on behalf of the King of Siam. Paramesvara with his followers founds Melaka on the west coast of Malaya.


Paramesvara sends an embassy to Beijing, receives promise of protection from China.


Chinese Admiral Cheng Ho visits Semarang.


Wirabumi is executed, and his head is brought to the court of Majapahit. The war of succession ends.


Cheng Ho visits Melaka for the first time.


Paramesvara visits Beijing on a state visit.


Paramesvara converts to Islam, and takes the name Iskandar Syah, after marrying the daughter of the Sultan of Pasai. Melaka is now an Islamic sultanate.

Islam, one of Indonesia’s five religions.

The Islamic religion had been common among traders in Sumatra and Java for some time. The Singhasari and Majapahit kingdoms probably had a few Muslims involved in their courts. Large-scale conversions to Islam began when local kings adopted the new religion. Aceh and Melaka were among the first. Most of Java did not become Muslims until the early 1500s.

(Today, over 85% of Indonesians are Muslims.)

See also Notes on Islam in Modern Indonesia.


First masjid founded on Ambon island.


Iskandar Syah of Melaka visits China to ask for help against Siam.


Iskandar Syah passes away aged 72. His son takes the title Sri Maharaja, and immediately travels to China to seek support. The son and grandson of Iskandar Syah included Hindu titles in their names; some scholars have interpreted this as meaning that Islam was not yet firmly established in Melaka.


Queen Suhita inherits the Majapahit kingdom from Wikramawardhana.


Hindu revolt in Melaka against Islam is suppressed.

Thai attack on Melaka is driven back.


Muzaffar Syah leads a coup in Melaka and takes the throne.


Kertawijaya, brother of Suhita, becomes King of Majapahit. He converts to Islam on the advice of his wife, Darawati, a princess of Champa (in what is now Vietnam).

Sunan Ampel, nephew of Kertawijaya, works to spread Islam around Surabaya.

Sunan Ampel in a traditional portrait. Sunan Ampel was the first notable member of the Nine Walis or Walisongo, Islamic teachers who worked to spread Islam around Java in the late 1400s and early 1500s. See also the separate page on the Walisongo.


Around this time, the Bugis state of Wajo is founded in Sulawesi.


King Kertawijaya is murdered and replaced by Rajasawardhana, who hinders the spread of Islam in Majapahit.


Thai attack on Melaka by sea is driven back. Melaka’s forces are led by Tun Perak.

Bhre Wengker becomes king of Majapahit after three years of chaos.

Around this time, Palembang converted to Islam.


Muzaffar Syah of Melaka is succeeded by Raja Abdullah or Mansur Syah.

Mansur Syah of Melaka conquers Kedah and Pahang from the Thais. The forces of Melaka are led by Tun Perak. Pahang becomes an Islamic sultanate under Melaka.


Kingdom of Aru (near Deli) on Sumatra becomes independent.


Suraprabhawa becomes king of Majapahit.

Kyai Demung founds Sumenep on Madura; breaks away from Majapahit control.


Court rebellion in Majapahit: Bhre Kertabhumi drives Suraprabhawa out of his court at Tumapel. Suraprabhawa moves his seat to Daha, near Kediri. Around this time, many Hindus from Majapahit left Java for Bali.


Tanah Hitu kingdom is founded on Ambon.


Ternate and Tidore convert to Islam.


Ala’uddin Riayat Syah, son of Mansur Syah, becomes Sultan of Melaka. Tun Perak exercises great power in the Sultanate.


The Daha region under Girindrawardhana, a great-grandson of Kertawijaya, revolts. Majapahit kingdom falls into chaos. Bhre Kertabumi, King of Majapahit at Tumapel, flees to Demak. Girindrawardhana sets himself up as ruler in Majapahit.

Islamic Kingdom of Demak is founded by Raden Patah (or Fattah), a prince of Majapahit (son of King Kertawijaya by a Chinese wife). Masjid is founded at Demak.

Islamic Sultanate founded at Cirebon, formerly a possession of the Pajajaran King Siliwangi.

By the 1490s, the Portuguese had sailed around the southern tip of Africa and had landed in India.


Zainal Abidin becomes Sultan of Ternate, until 1500. (First ruler of Ternate to be titled Sultan rather than King.)

Court of Majapahit moves to Kediri.


Mahmud becomes Sultan of Melaka.

First mention of Bandung in historical records.


Ciriliyati becomes Sultan of Tidore. (First ruler of Tidore to be titled Sultan rather than King.)


Tun Perak, military leader in Melaka, passes away. Sultan Mahmud of Melaka was considered to be a weak ruler. Tun Perak and his successors exercised the real power in the Sultanate. The last several years of Mahmud’s time on the throne were spent in warfare with Siam, right up until the Portuguese conquest in 1511.