Central Java


History has left its footprints across Central Java, an area rich in culture and tradition descending from a powerful Hindu and Buddhist past, and more recent Islamic influences. Under the Saliendra and Old Mataram kings. In the 8th and 10th centuries the Hindu-Javanese culture flourished, and it was during this period that Java's most remarkable religious monuments were built: Borobudur, the most magnificent monument to Mahayana Buddhism in the 'world; the enormous Hindu temple complex of Prambanan, and the ancient site of the oldest Hindu temples in Java on the Dieng Plateau. All of these are testimony to the ancient power and influence of the region, and should be included in your travel plans.

The first Islamic kingdom in Java was established in 1511 in Demak, about 40 km from the Provincial capital of Semarang. One of the province's greatest Islamic structures is the Grand Mosque of Demak. 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 worshipped by Javanese pilgrims.

The rich and fertile plains of the region support an enormous population of over 30 million people. Surakarta, better known as Solo, is the cradle of Javanese culture in the province. TV courts of Solo embody 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 seat of power it once was, descendants of the royal houses of Solo are regarded as leaders of, Javanese culture and traditions, upholding standards of sophistication and conduct.

An extensive network of good roads and railway links major cities and villages. With airports in both Semarang and Yogyakarta it is one of the most accessible provinces in the country. Two major seaports, Tanjung Emas on the Java Sea, and Cilacap, a natural ocean port in the Indian Ocean provide national and international outlets for the province's agricultural and industrial products.

Other places of interest:

Semarang Ambarawa Railway Museum
Solo Sukuh Temple
Tawangmangu Kasunanan Palace
Mangkunegaran Palace or Pura Mangkunegan Sangiran, The Land of Mystery
Bandungan and Gedong Songo Temple Borohudur 'Temple'
Mendut Temple Beturaden
Dieng Plateau

Semarang

Semarang is situated on Java's northern coast and is called the capital of Central Java, as it lies just about halfway between the extreme east and west coasts of the island. From Candi Hill you get amazing views of the port, the lowlands and green paddy fields, the city itself and the surrounding mountains. The environs around Semarang are perfect for clay trips side-excursions.

In the older part of the city, near the harbour, you can still find an interesting collection of buildings dating back to the Dutch colonial era and the Dutch Last Indies Company.

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 towns suburbs.

For short trips out of Semarang within a radius of about 60 km, the following places arc recommended Jepara, northeast of Sentarang, is surrounded by white sand beaches, and is also famous for its wood carving industry. An ancient Portuguese Fort can be found to the east of Jepara.

Kudus, about halfway between Jepara and Semarang, is home to the Minaret Mosque, which was built in the 15th century.

Demak has the oldest mosque in Central, Java, which is said to have been built in a single night by one of the nine early leaders of Islam in Java.

Back to top

 

Ambarawa Railway Museum

Fifty kms south of Semarang, Ambarawa has locomotives of various types and ages, and it is still possible to ride on a cog railway between Ambarawa and Bedono, a village nearby. Prior arrangements should he made for groups. Also of interest are a collection of antique telephones and other instrument used for railway communication.

Back to top

 

Solo

A Pleasant city with a lively character, Solo is also called 'The City That Never Sleeps. One can always find something to eat or buy, as vendors of all kinds and small food stalls remain 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 all its own. It is one of the centers of batik and other Javanese fabrics, and souvenir hunters may find exquisite 'objects d'art" and ornate trinkets in the local markets. Those interested in old, Javanese culture and art should not miss Solo.

Back to top

 

Sukuh Temple

Not far from Solo is the Sukuh Temple decorated with wayang stone carvings of Hindu origin, anti the only erotic temple in Java. The stepped pyramid is like the ones in South America of the Maya culture.

Back to top

 

Tawangmangu

Located 40 kms east of Solo, this recreational resort offers fresh weather; scenic views, swimming pools, bungalow style hotels anti restaurants It lies on the slopes of Mt., Lawu, at an elevation of 1300 m above sea level. Other features include nearby temples, a national park and the 40 in high waterfall of Grojogan Sewu.

Back to top

 

Kasunanan Palace

The royal residence of King Pakubuwono in the 17th century, the palace has an art gallery exhibiting royal heirlooms, antiques and other invaluable objects in a genuine royal Javanese atmosphere.

Back to top

 

Mangkunegaran Palace or Pura Mangkunegan

Another palace built 1757, with typical Javanese architecture consisting of "Pendopo" (an open front hall to receive guests), "Pringgitan" (a porch to hold leather puppet shadow play) and private apartments. Two sets of 17th century Javanese gamelan instruments are exhibited and played every Wednesday in the Pendopo. The palace also exhibits complete collection of masks, wayang orang costumes, leather and wooden puppets, religious articles and jewelry.

Back to top

 

Sangiran, The Land of Mystery

In 1891, Eugene Dubois, a French anthropologist discovered fossils of Phitecantropos Erectus, or 'Java Man'. 1930 and 1931 marked the discovery of fossils of a man from the Pleistocene Period. In mid 1980, scientists were startled by the discovery of a complete 4 m tall elephant.

Back to top

 

Bandungan and Gedong Songo Temple

This is a holiday resort on the slopes 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 ear 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 a temple complexes in Central Java. The views alone are worth the trip.

Back to top

 

Borohudur 'Temple'

The name "Borobudnr" is believed to have been derived from the Sanskrit words "Vihara Buddha Uhr", (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. One of the world's most famous temples, it stand majestically on a hill overlooking lush green fields and distant hills. Borobudur is built of gray and a site stone. It rises in seven ten-aces, 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 sculpted in bas-relief, a total length of six kilometers. It has been hailed as the largest and most complete ensemble of Buddhist relief's in the world, unsurpassed in artistic merit and 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 and foreign governments.

Back to top

 

Mendut Temple

Located only three kilometers from Borobudur, Mendut is said to face toward Benares, India, where Buddha Gautama taught his five disclipes. The smaller temples of Mendut, which house the great statue of Buddha and the Pawon temple, form an integral part of the Borobudur complex. The three-meter tall Buddha and the two Bodhisatva figures of Lokesvara and Vajrapani are among the greatest manifestations of Buddhist thought and art.

Back to top

 

Beturaden

Central Java's most outstanding resort, approximately 14 kms north of Purwokerto, occupies a fine site on the slopes of Mount Slamet, 650 m above sea level. It has remarkable weather, nice gardens, hot springs, ponds and bungalow-style hotels.

Back to top

 

Dieng Plateau

Four hours from Semarang is the Dieng Plateau, the site of some of the oldest Hindu temples on Java. These 50-foot high monuments stand on a crater floor amidst sulphurous fumes. The road to the Dieng Plateau passes through tobacco plantations and beautiful mountain scenery.

Back to top

 

Excursions, Tours & transfers in Indonesia
 

Asian Trails Travel Sites

Asia Tourist Information and Travel Guides: