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Places of Interest

1.      Jakarta

Jakarta had been a harbor of Pajajaran kingdom with ancient name Sunda Kalapa (meaning a Sundanese area which is full of coconut trees) or Jayakarta (this name was adopted since the area was under the authority of Pangeran Jayakarta (Prince Jayakarta), a prince of Pajajaran kingdom. Jayakarta had been a port of Portuguese when Portuguese merchants arrived in 1511 and, in cooperation with Pangeran Jayakarta, established a port there. After Portuguese merchants were evicted by a force from Bantam kingdom, then the Dutch came to Jayakarta in the early of 16 century. The Dutch established a port there and called it Batavia. Since the establishment of Batavia, Jayakarta was inhabited not only by Sundanese but also by people from parts which are now called Indonesian archipelago and from Arab, India, and China. The people shaped new community / ethnic group with its new culture called Betawi (derived from Batavia word). The ethnic Betawi speaks Malay not Sundenese. Even though, we still can find Sundanese words in Betawi language.

Shortly after the outbreak of World War II, Batavia fell into the hands of invading Japanese forces that also changed the name of the city. This time it was renamed Jakarta (derived from Jayakarta word) as a gesture aimed at winning the sympathy of the people living there. The name was retained even when Indonesia was established after the wars end and made the city as its capital. Jakarta was also designated as a special territory, DKI, which means that it is administrated by a governor and enjoys the same status as a province.

Now, Jakarta is the center of government, business and industry and has been expanded from small Betawi or Batavia to cover an area of of more than 650 square kilometers (410 square miles) with a population of about ten millions. The population, gathered from the diverse ethnic and cultural groups which shape Indonesia.

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Its rapid growth into a metropolitan city, however, is a reflection of the economic, political, social and industrial development of Indonesia.

For more information about Jakarta, you can visit: PEMDA DKI Jakarta.

2.      Bandung: The capital city of Tanah Sunda


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From ancient archeological finds, it is known that Bandung was home to Australopithecus, Java Man. These people lived on the banks of the Cikapundung river in north Bandung, and on the shores of the Great Lake of Bandung. Flint artifacts can still be found in the Upper Dago area and the Geological Museum has displays and fragments of skeletal remains and artifacts.

The Sundanese were a pastoral people farming the fertile regions of Bandung. They developed a lively oral tradition which includes the still practiced Wayang Golek (wood puppet) theatre, and many musical forms. "There is a city called Bandung, comprising 25 to 30 houses," wrote Juliaen de Silva in 1614.

The achievements of European adventurers to try their luck in the fertile and prosperous Bandung area, led eventually to 1786 when a road was built connecting Jakarta, Bogor, Cianjur and Bandung. This flow was increased when in 1809 Louis Napoleon, the ruler of the Netherlands, ordered Governor General H.W. Daendels, to increase defences in Java island against English. The vision was a chain of military defense units and a supply road between Batavia and Cirebon. But this coastal area was marsh and swamp, and it was easier to construct the road further south, across the Priangan (southeastern part of Tanah Sunda) highlands (including Bandung).

The Groote Postweg (Great Post Road) was built 11 miles north of the then capital of Bandung. With his usual terseness, Daendels ordered the capital to be relocated to the road. Bupati Wiranatakusumah II chose a site south of the road on the western bank of the Cikapundung river. On this site he built his dalem (palace) and the alun-alun (city square). Following traditional orientations, Mesjid Agung (The Grand Mosque) was placed on the western side, and the public market on the east. His residence and Pendopo (meeting place) was on the south facing the mystical mountain of Tangkuban Perahu. Thus was The Flower City born.

Around the middle of the l9th Century, South American cinchona (quinine), Assam tea, and coffee was introduced to the highlands. By the end of the century Priangan  was registered as the most prosperous plantation area of the province. In 1880 the rail line connecting Jakarta and Bandung was completed, and promised a 2 1/2 hour trip from the blistering capital in Jakarta to Bandung.

With this life changed in Bandung, hotels, cafes, shops sprouted up to serve the planters who either came down from their highland plantations or up from the capital to frolic in Bandung. The Concordia Society was formed and with its large ballroom was the social magnet for weekend activities in the city. The Preanger Hotel and the Savoy Homann were the hotels of choice. The Braga became the promenade, lined with exclusive Europeans shops.

With the railroad, light industry flourished. Once raw plantation crops were sent directly to Jakarta for shipment to Europe, now primary processing could be done efficiently in Bandung. The Chinese who had never lived in Bandung in any number came to help run the facilities and vendor machines and services to the new industries. Chinatown dates from this period.

In the first years of the twentieth century, Pax Neerlandica was proclaimed, resulting in the passing of military government to a civilian one. With this came the policy of decentralization to lighten the administrative burden of the central government. And so Bandung became a municipality in 1906.

This turn of events left a great impact on the city. City Hall was built at the north end of Braga to accommodate the new government, separate from the original native system. This was soon followed by a larger scale development when the military headquarters was moved from Batavia to Bandung around 1920. The chosen site was east of City Hall, and consisted of a residence for the Commander in Chief, offices, barracks and military housing.

By the early 20's the need for skilled professionals drove the establishment of the technical high school that was sponsored by the citizens of Bandung. At the same time the plan to move the capital of the Netherlands Indies from Batavia to Bandung was already mature, the city was to be extended to the north. The capital district was placed in the northeast, an area that had formerly been rice fields, and a grand avenue was planned to run for about 2.5 kilometers facing the fabled Tangkuban Perahu volcano with Gedung Sate at the south end, and a colossal monument at the other. On both sides of this grand boulevard buildings would house the various offices of the massive colonial government.

Along the east bank of the Cikapundung river amidst natural scenery was the campus of the Technische Hoogeschool, dormitories and staff housing. The old campus buildings and its original landscaping reflect the genius of its architect Henri Maclain Pont. The southwestern section was reserved for the municipal hospital and the Pasteur Institute, in the neighborhood of the old quinine factory. These developments were carefully planned down to the architectural and maintenance details. These years shortly before World War II were the golden ones in Bandung and those alluded to today as Bandung Tempoe Doeloe.

The war years did little to change the city of Bandung, but in 1946, facing the return of the Colonial Dutch to Indonesia, citizens chose to burn down their beloved Bandung in what has become known as Bandung Lautan Api (Bandung the Ocean of Fire). Citizens fleed to the southern hills and overlooking the "ocean of flames" penned "Halo Halo Bandung," the anthem promising their return. Political unrest colored the early years of Independence and consequently people flocked to Bandung where safety was.

Its most famous moment came when, in April 1955, it hosted the Conference of Non-Aligned Countries, the so-called Bandung International Conference. which brought together the leaders of 29 Asian and African nations with the aim to promote economic and cultural relations and take a common stand against colonialism. This meeting represented a landmark in the rise of Afro-Asian consciousness and a major step in the history of North-South relationships. To commemorate this event, Bandung's main street has been called Jalan (street) Asia-Afrika.

The population skyrocketed from 230,000 in 1940 to 1 million by 1961. Economic prosperity following the oil boom in the 70's pushed this further so that by 1990 there were 2 million inhabitants.

Present day Bandung is thriving. As home to more than 25 schools of higher education, there is a vibrant collegiate atmosphere. The ITB still reigns supreme in Indonesian education; the Universities of Padjadjaran and ITB receive students from all over the country. The National Hotel Institute, the National Railway Institute, the Senior Officers Military Institute, the Women's Police Academy, grace the city. The excellent fine arts offerings have produced an artist colony of great repute and excitment. The textile industry is the largest in the country and contributes to a vigorous business climate.

In 1987 the city extended its administrative boundaries toward a Greater Bandung Plan (Bandung Raya) Plans for the city include higher concentrations of development outside the current city centre, in an attempt to dilute some of the population density in the old core. These days Bandung Raya is still years ahead, yet the land has suffered deeply. Commercial activities run amok, The city core is practically uprooted, old faces are torn down, lot sizes regrouped, and what was idyllic residence is now bustling chain supermarkets and rich banks.

Here is links to further surf Bandung:

Bandung today

Interesting Sites

North of Bandung

South of Bandung

West of Bandung

3.      Other Cities

You can visit other cities of Tanah Sunda by clicking the links to the cities on the map below.


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