The charming and stunning land of Sunda stretches from the Sunda Strait in the west to the borders of Central Java in the east. West Java is not only Indonesia's most populous province, but also its most productive - yielding more agricultural products and manufactured goods than any other part of the country. The region is primarily mountainous, with rich green valleys hugging lofty volcanic peaks, many of which surround the capital of the province, Bandung. The people of this region, the Sundanese, are soft-spoken and colourful, with a rich and fascinating history. The powerful and ancient kingdoms of Tarumanegara, Pajajaran, Banten and Cirebon have all risen, ruled and fallen in this province and provide fascinating studies for students of archaeology and history. West Java was one of the first contact points in Indonesia for Indian traders and their cultural influences, and it was here that the Dutch and British first set foot in Indonesia at Banten. The Dutch moved their centre of operations to Sunda Kelapa (now Jakarta) after fierce competition and rivalry with the British, only to return at a later date. West Java effectively surrounds the nation's capital of Jakarta on three sides and enjoyable roads provide good links to most of the province passing through spectacular panoramas of rocky mountains and fresh rice fields. West Java provides visitors with a great number of fascinating and wonderful things to see and do; venture to the reminders of the explosive and awesome power of Krakatau; explore the undisturbed wildlife reserve of Ujung Kulon on the south- western tip of Java; admire the Pulau Dua Bird Sanctuary off the coast of Banten and visit the isolated communities of the mysterious Baduy in the remote Halimun Mountain Reserve; discover unspoiled beaches at Pangandaran; treasure the royal palaces of Cirebon and the world renowned botanical gardens of Bogor. Bandung, the capital of the province is about 180 kms southeast of Jakarta and was once known as "The Paris of Java" because of its tree lined boulevards and artistic influences. The city gained international fame in 1955 as the venue for the first Afro-Asian Conference which brought together the leaders of 29 Asian and African Nations with the aim of promoting economic and cultural relations and taking a common stand against colonialism.
PLACES OF INTEREST
During the 16th and 17th centuries, this was one of Asia's largest and most important spice trading entrepots. Once a grand walled city, it was laid to ruin as trade was shifted to Jayakarta ( Jakarta ). Today, it is a tiny fishing village with interesting historical sites. There are the ruins of powerful Moslem kingdoms such as the palaces of Surosowan and Kaibon, the grand mosque of Mesjid Agung Banten and a Dutch fortress and an old Chinese temple.
Dormant for centuries, this volcano achieved immediate and permanent reputation in 1883, when it erupted with catastrophic force, ripping out a huge mass of the earth's crust to form a monstrous 40 km2 submarine caldera. A pillar of ash and pumice towered 26 km into the sky. Rock and dust rained over the surrounding region, forming a blanket cloud which turned day into night for 150 km in every direction. At that very instant, Krakatau vanished as if consumed by the sea, causing formidable tidal waves which in turn swept off just about everything alive from the surrounding coastal areas. When the waves had dropped and the dust dispersed, three quarters of Krakatau was gone. The peak of Rakata was still close to its original height, but its northern half gone, leaving a sheer cliff hurtling 300 m to the sea below. Two islands, Panjang and Sertung, had been totally re-shaped, while remains from the eruption merged to form islands farther away. In decades that followed, undersea activity continued and a new active crater has emerged from the sea in 1927: Anak Karakatau ( Child of Krakatau ), now stands 150 m high. This island gives scientists a attractive opportunity to observe the colonisations of plant and animal species on new soil.
Ujung Kulon National Park
Ujung Kulon is one of Java's most thrilling destinations for nature lovers. Located on the south western tip of West Java is a wildlife reserve covering the Ujung Kulon peninsula and the nearby islands of Panaitan and Peucang. The reserve is famous for its most elusive inhabitant, the Javanese rhinoceros. Once abundant in the lowland forests of Java it is now found nowhere but the thick jungles of Ujung Kulon, possibly 50 or 60 survive. The dense forest provides a natural habitat also for wild ox, deer, wild boar, panthers, crocodiles, snakes and birds. Marine life in the surrounding seas is a kaleidoscope of colours. Beautiful sea gardens are found off Peucang and Panaitan islands and the south coast just below Tanjung Layar offer spectacular deep diving for scuba enthusiasts, although at present no scuba facilities in Ujung Kulon. On the western tip of the peninsula is a lighthouse built by the Dutch which stands near the site of the ruins of old one.
The small city of Bogor, situated at the foot of Mt. Salak at an altitude of 260 metres, was the picturesque spot where Dutch Governor-General van Imhoff had a private retreat constructed in 1745 - a place which he named Buitenzorg, meaning "free of cares" or "without worries". Later restored in 1832, the palace still stands solid and elegant today with its stretched out gardens where deer roam freely on the green grass under majestically tall old trees. However, Bogor is well-known because of its Botanical Garden which borders the Palace Grounds, covering an area of 87 hectares with thousands of species of plant life from all over the world, including towering age old trees and the rarest kinds of orchids. See the original "Havea Brazilliensis" rubber tree formerly imported from Brazil, and world's largest flower, the Rafflesia a foul smelling and stemless as well as leafless plant.
To the south of Bogor rises a towering volcanic massif containing some of the most stunning landscape on Java. The highest peaks, Mt. Gede and Mt. Pangrango, together with Mt. Salak, created a broad fan with rivers spreading down to the coast in several directions. One of the largest rivers, the Ciliwung, has carved a valley into the northern slope of Mt. Pangrango, and it is here, at the beginning of 19th century, that a narrow, snaky roads was built across the 1,450 metre pass known as Puncak ( which exactly means "the summit ). Today the cool and enormously scenic area crossed by this road is a popular resort.
Taman Safari Indonesia
This is an open-air zoo where lions, tigers, bear and giraffes forage in the open.
The capital of West Java is situated on a plateau 768 metres above sea level and surrounded on all sides by lofty volcanic peaks. It is a burgeoning city with a population of over two million. Before World War II, it was a quaint Dutch administrative and university town of about 150,000 and called the Paris of Java for its broad, shady boulevards and elegant homes. Although it is now rapidly growing industrial city, Bandung is still green and attractive, and is often called Kota Kembang ( City of Flowers ). The city boasts many universities and academies, including the prestigious Institut Teknologi Bangung - the oldest technical institute in Indonesia. A centre for monitoring Indonesia's volcanoes and a nuclear research are also located here.
North of the Bandung city, passing through verdant tea plantations, is located Tanguban Perahu Nature Reserve. Volcano Tanguban Perahu lies at 2,084 metres above sea level. As viewed from Bandung, Tanguban Perahu has a unique shape, the mountain looks like an overturned boat, and that is what its name literally means in the local language. The volcanic crater of Tangkuban Perahu, is the only crater in Java accessible all the way by car as for as its rim. When the mountain mists roll in, the whole area, with its rough, brown-black ridges and small bushes, takes on a strange, other-worldly atmosphere.
Saung Angklung Udjo - Sunanese Art & Bamboo Craft Centre
One of the unique characteristics of this place is that traditional art performances are staged with a natural background of mountains, rice fields and plantations. This is a place where you can see how to make and how to play angklung. Anglung instruments are made of bamboo that resonate gently when shaken.
Kampung Naga is one of the most beautiful and most traditional villages in West Java. The uniqueness of Kampung Naga is that in spite of its nearness to modern society, it has retained its traditional customs over the centuries. Here the most important traditional ceremony is called the "Upacara Pedaran" which illustrates its age-old history and culture, held only once every year.