History has left its footprints everywhere in Central Java, an area rich in a culture and tradition cumulated from a powerful Hindu and Buddhist past and more recent Islamic influences. Under the Saliendra and Old Mataram kings, the Hindu Javanese culture flourished between the 8th and 10th centuries and it was during this pinnacle of power that Java's most remarkable religious monuments were built; Borobudur, the biggest and most magnificent monument to Mahayana Buddhism in the world; the enormous Hindu Temple complex of Prambanan, dedicated to Shiva and built by the rulers of the Sanjaya Dynasty, and the ancient site of the oldest Hindu temples in Java on the magnificent, etherial heights of the Dieng Plateau; all of these and more are testimony to the ancient power and influence of the region.
The first Islamic kingdom in Java was born in 1511 in Demak, about 40 km from the Provincial capital of Semarang on the North coast. One of the province's greatest Islamic structures is, in fact, the Grand Mosque of Demak, which is said to have been built in a single night by one of the nine early leaders of Islam in Java. Symbolic of the way the new faith was introduced, the mosque displays a curious combination of Islamic and Hindu architectural influences and is still revered and WOh shipped by Javanese pilgrims.
The rich and fertile plains of the region support an enormous population of over 30 million people with age-old traditions and a rich culture. There are an abundance of interesting places to visit and an extensive network of good roads and railway links to major cities and villages, as well as airports in Semarang and Yogyakarta, making it one of the most accessible provinces in the country.
Surakarta, better known as Solo, is the cradle of Javanese culture in the province. The courts of Solo illustrate the noble value that the Javanese attach to grace and refinement, with majestic ceremonies and royal festivals still held with great pomp and circumstance. Although no longer the seats of power they once were, the courts of Solo are still regarded as the bearers of values which the Javanese have treasured for generations. Descendants of the royal houses are regarded as leaders of Javanese culture and traditions which uphold standards of so phistication and bearing.
Two major seaports are also to be noted, providing national and international outlets for the province's agricultural and industrial products; Tanjung Emas on the northern coast on the Java Sea, and Cilacap, a natural ocean port in the Indian Ocean, in the southern part of the province.
PLACE OF INTEREST
Insize and inhabitants, Semarang falls under the five major cities in the nation. It is situated on Java's normally flat northern coast and appropriately called the capital of Central Java as it lies just about halfway between the two extreme east and west coasts of the island. Indeed, few cities in the country have got hills and mountains so clearly visible from their seaports.
In fact, mostly residential, Candi is a hill within Semarang's perimeter from where breathtaking panoramas on all directions can be witnessed the port, the lowlands and green paddy fields,the city itself and the numerous mountains.The proximity of all this beauty promises adventurous car trips out of Semarang offering you memorable experiences and to be back in the city before dark.
There is an older part of the city, close to its ocean harbour, where you can still find an interesting collection of odd-looking buildings dating back to the Dutch colonial era and further back still, to the time of the Dutch East Indies Company. And finally the city's zoo, may also be worth while visiting.More up to date, the city offers evening performances of Wayang drama played by live actors, actresses and dancers at Ngesti Pandowo Theatre. For sport fans there are tennis courts in all major hotels and 2 golf courses located in the town's suburbs.
Sangiran, The Land of Mystery
Located 15 kms from Surakarta. It is a fossilizes land of prehistoric living things. In 1891, Eugene Dubois, a French anthropologist discovered fossils of Phitecantropus Erectus, the oldest Java man known. Again in 1930 and 1931, Ngandong Village, Trinil-Mojokerto, was marked with the discovery of fossils of a man that belonged to the Pleistocene Period. It revealed human history from many centuries ago.
Prof. Dr. Van Koenigswald in 1936 found more evidence about human evolution. He discovered some fossils that support the theory of human growth from an apeman to be man as we are now.
Other fossils, which include those of mammoths (pre historic elephant) are now preserved in Bandung Geological Museum. In mid 1980, scientists were started by the finding of a complete 4 m tall elephant.
Northeast of Semarang, is a town with white sandy beaches around it, and is also famous for its wood carving industry. Most artists of this sophisticated art come from around this area. It is also the birthplace of Indonesia's heroine of the national women's liberation movement.
An ancient Portuguese Fort can be found to the east of Jepara. Along the road from Semarang to this town are many sights and curiosities worthy of seeing.
About halfway between Jepara and Semarang, could be taken in on the same trip, as well as Demak. So, Kudus and Demak are two towns having the same directions as to Jepara, and both have historical significance. Kudus has the Minaret Mosque which was built in the 1 5th century, whereas Demak has the oldest mosque in Central Java, both of them very interesting structures from the architectural point of view.
Other places of interest are either south, southwest or west of Semarang which are usually not visited on one roundtrip out of Semarang. It is recommended that you leave the capital on a toure to another city, say, Solo, and see the beautiful things along the way. But even then, you may not be able to see them all in one single day. Another point of destination would be necessary to see other places of interest.
It is advisable that you study a detailed map of Central Java to pinpoint the places you want to visit, which very much depend on your personal taste and interest.
Ambarawa Railway Museum
Fifty kms, south of Semarang, Ambarawa is the home of Java'` antique locomotive, Established into a museum, it has locomotives of various types and ages, and it is still possible to ride or a cog railway between Ambarawa and Bedono, a village nearby Prior arrangements should be made for groups.
Also of interest are a collection of antique telephones and other instruments used for railway communication.
A medium size city with a lively character, Solo is also called the city that never sleeps. From the evening throughout the whole night one can always find something to eat or buy, as vendors of all kinds as well as small foodstalls remain active and open 24 hours. Home of two royal houses with centuries of power and influence over the city, Solo today remains distinctly Central Javanese with an elegance of its own. It is one of the major centres of batik cloths and other Javanese fabrics, whereas souvenir hunters may find exquisite "objects d'art" and very ornate trinkets and other decorative items. Those interested in old Javanese culture and art should not miss Solo on their itinerary, as the royal palaces including relics of all sorts will be all yours to witness. Once in Solo which offers excellent accommodation, short trips to its surrounding areas can easily be made by car or coach. Most hotels should have a stock of pamphlets and booklets on all interesting sport and items available.
Not far from here is the Sukuh Temple with wayang stone carvings of Hindu origin and which is the only sample of an erotic temple in Java having the shape of a stepped pyramid like the ones in South America of the Maya culture. There are also a two-century old palace of King Pakubuwono, art Gallery exhibiting Royal heirlooms, various Javanese weapons, antiques and other invaluable items.
Some of the places of interest are for instance Tawangmangu, a mountain resort at an elevation of almost 1 km above sea level which promises you a cool escape from the city's heat.
Located 40 kms east of Solo. It lies on the slope of mount Lawu, at an elevation of 1300 m above sea level. It is a recreational resort offering fiesh weather, scenic views, swimming pools, bungalow style hotels and restaurants.
Other features include nearby temples in ruin, a national park and the 40 m high waterfall of Grojogan Sewu.
A 17th century palace, the royal residence of King Pakubuwono. Attached to the palace is an art gallery exhibiting royal heirlooms, antiques and other invaluable objects. A genuine royal Javanese atmosphere can be felt and enjoyed here.
Mangkunegaran Palace or Pura Mangkunegaran
Another palace built 1757, with a typical Javanese architecture consisting of "Pendopo" (an open front hall to receive guests), "Pringgitan" (an porch to hold leather puppet shadow play) and private apartments. Two sets of 17th century Javanese gamelan instruments are exhibited and played every Wednesdays in the pendopo. The palace also exhibits complete collection of masks, wayang orang costumes, leather and wooden puppets, religious articles, jewelries, et
Another palace is the royal residence of Prince Mangkunegoro, featuring typical Javanese architecture, a complete collection of masks, heirlooms, wayang golek, handicrafts, Javanese musical instruments and superb antiques are axhibited here.
Bandungan and Gedong Songo Temple
This is a holiday resort on the slope of Mt. Ungaran, about 900 meters above sea level. Gedong Songo (nine buildings!, a group of small 8th century Hindu Javanese temples, can be reached either by car or on horseback from the town. Built at about the same time as the temples of the Dieng complex, Gedong Songo is one of the most beautifully sited temple complexes in Central Java and the views alone are worth the trip.
The name "Borobudur" is believed to have been derived from the Sanskrit words "Vihara Buddha Uhr" the Buddhist Monastery on the hill. The Borobudur Temple was built in the eighth century by the Cailendra dynasty and is located at Magelang 90 km southeast of Semarang or 42 km northwest of Yogyakarta. Visitor have the option of going by taxi or public bus to reach this temple. One of the world's most famous temples, it stand majestically on a hillock overlooking lush green field and distant hills.
Borobudur is built of grey andesite stone. It rises to seven terraces, each smaller than the one below it. The top is the Great Stupa, standing 40 meters above the ground. The walls of the Borobudur are sculptured in bas-relief extending over a total length of six kilometres. It has been hailed as the largest and most complete ensemble of Buddhist reliefs in the world, unsurpassed in artistic merit, each scene an individual masterpiece.
The monument has been completely restored and was officially opened by the President on 23 February 1983. The restoration took eight years to complete, funded by the Government of Indonesia with aid from UNESCO and donations from private citizens as well as from foreign governments.
The Borobudur was in danger of collapsing its stone statues and bas-relichs affected by stone cancer, moss and lichen. A large parking area is available not far from the monument, so private cars and buses have to be parked in this area. During the Buddhist festival of Waisak in May, processions start from Mendut temple. Public transportation is available the bus terminal. From that point visitors can hire becaks or horse carts, or walk the rest of the way to the monument.
Located only three kilometers from Borobudur, Mendut is said to face toward Benares, India, where Buddha Gautama taught his five disclipes the very first time. The smaller temples of Mendut, which houses the great statue of Buddha and the Pawon temple, form an integral part of the Borobudur complex. The three-metre tall Buddha together with the two Bodhisatva figures of Lokesvara and Vajrapani are in the view of some experts, among the greatest manifestations of Buddhist thought and art. Through these smaller temple complexes the pilgrim must pass before ascending the great Borobudur monument.
Jatijajar Cave is about 49 km west of Kebumen, or 20 km from Gombong. It is the most interesting cave in Central Java with its stalactite and stalagmite. Inside, there is Kamandaka statue which has its own legend. Krakal hot water-springs is located 13 km north-east of Kebumen. Bathing rooms are available. Like many other hot water-springs, it is an effective remedy for skin diseases. 3 km north of Gombong, is the Sempor Dam surrounded by hills forming a nice mountain scenery. Recreational facilities are also provided here.
Goa Lawa is cave on the foot of Mt. Slamet, 27 km to the north of Purbolinggo. Located 900 metre above sea level, the air is naturally cool and it offers panoramic, mountain view.
Central Java's outstanding resort, approximately 1 4 kms north of Purwokerto. It occupies a fine site on the slope of Mount Slamet, at an elevation of 650 m above sea level. It has remarkable weather with a cool mountain breeze. The temperature ranges from 18_C to 25_C. The resort area is surrounded by nice gardens, hot springs, ponds and bungalow-style hotels abound. Other features included 200 ha pine forest, a nearby market and marvelous views.
Four hours from Semarang is the Dieng Plateau. Here are found some of the oldest Hindu temples of Java. These small monuments which are not more than 50 feet high stand on a crater floor amidst sulphurous fumes and a shrugged majesty, underlined by the presence of a few of the starkest Shivaite temples at an elevation of more than 6.000 feet, is impressive. The road to the Dieng Plateau passes through tobacco plantations and beautiful mountain scenery.
Karimunjawa's Marine Life
The archipelagic Karimunjawa, thought not as known the Marine reserves near Ambon and Manado, has unexpectedly good beaches, reefs and lovely sea scapes. Corals seem to blossom in to gardens, with an Amazing variety of form and colour fishers and marine plants. Karimunjawa consist of 27 island and only a few of which are inhabited. It lies 90 kms away from Jepara and can reached by "KM. Adison I & KM Kota Ukir" boat, the only ferryboat connecting Karimunjawa and Jepara.
It is situated at Patean sub district Sukorejo about 41 km from Kendall To visit it, visitors can take public buses on route Semarang - Kendal - Weleri - Sukorejo. It can also be reached from the southern part of the province, via Wonosobo / Temanggung on route to Parakan - Ngadirejo - Candroto - Patean. It is the highest waterfall in the province with three levels. The highs are 45 metres, 15 metres and 20 metres. Visitors can en joy walking along the forest near the waterfall and also enjoying the forest near the waterfall and also enjoying the mountainous part of the forest called "Lintas Hutan Indah".
Guci Hot Water Spring
It is about 19 kilometres away from Tegal southward. Guci is a mountain resort at the height of 1,050 metres above sea level with the temperature ranging from 12.8_ to 21.9_. The main point of interest is the hot water spring. You can take a bath in either indoor and outdoor bathing place or the swimming pool. The water contains chemical compound such as zinc, sulphure, iodine. Therefore, it can cure various kinds of skin deceases.
The Guci Hot Water Spring is also provided with facilities to meet the tourists requirement such as hotel, restaurants, conference room, children play ground, camping site, parking lot, ect.
Taman Kyai Langgeng
Kyai Langgeng Park located at the western part of Magelang and occupying land of about 19 hectares functions not only as a means. The park with the tranquility of rural atmosphere is easily accessible as it lies only about 1 km from the centre of the town. Convenient public transports bring you there, leaving the business of town life to go back to nature.
Built by the Local Government of Magelang Municipality and opened its gate to the public in 1987, Kyai Langgeng Park is now providing you with,:
Collection of many kinds of rare plants from all over Indonesia, collection of dinosaurs statues, fishing pond, traffic gardens, aquariums green house, swimming pool, open air theatre, large cages of various kinds of tropical birds, various kinds of animals from the bigger to the smaller ones, arena for go carting, a river for canoing and wild water surfing, restaurants, souvenir shops, tropical fruit market, indoor tennis court, hotel and many other things to see, to do and to en joy.
This park is named after the name of one of the followers of Prince Diponegoro, one of the Indonesian heroes who fought bravely againts the Dutch Colonialist during Diponegoro's war (1825-1830). The late Kyai Langgeng was buried in this area and his burial can still be found here.
For now and the future the Local Government of Magelang Municipality will keep on the move to invest new things in the frame of providing recreational facilities for all levels of the community.