Explore Indonesia: Central Java

Central Java:

History has left ifs footprint across Central Java, an ara rich in Culture and tradition descending from a powerful Hindu and Buddhist past, and more recent Islamic influences. Under the Saliendra and Old Mataram king in 8th and 10th centuries the Hindu-Javanese culture flourished and it was during theis 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 temple in Java on the Dieng Plateau. All these are testimony to the ancient power and influence of the region, and should be include in your travel plans.

The first Islamic kingdom in Java was established in 1511 in Demak, about 40km form the Provincial capital of Semarang. One of the provice’s greatest Islamic structure in the Grand Mosque of Demak. Symbolic of the way the new faith was introduced to the mosque displays a curious combination of Islamic and Hindu Architectual influence and sis still revered and worshiped by Javanese pilgrims.

The rich and fertile plains of the region support an enormous population of over 30 million people. Surakarta, better know as Solo, is the cradle of Javanese culture in the province. The courts of Solo embody the noble value that the Javanese attach to grace and refinement, with majestic ceremonies and royal festival still held with great pomp and circumstance. Although on 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 networking of good roads an railway link major cities and village s. with airport in both Semarang and Yogyakarta it is ine the most accessible province in the country. Two major seaport, Tanjung emas on the Java Sea and Cilacap, a natural ocean port in Indian Ocean provide national an international outlets for the province’s agricultural and industrial product.

Place of Interest

Semarang
Semarang is situated on Java’s northern coast and is called the capital of central Java, as it lies just about halfway between extreme east and west cost 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 day trips and side-excursions. In the older part of the city, near the harbor, you can still find an interesting collection of buildings dating back to the Dutch colonial era and the Dutch East 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 town’s suburbs.

For short trips out of Semarang within a radius of about 60km, the following places are recommended:

Jepara, northeast of Semarang, is surrounded by white sand beaches, and is also famous for its wood carving industry. An ancient Pertuguese 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.

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 be made for groups. Also of interest are a collection of antique telephones and other instruments used for railway communication.

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 and elegance all its own. It is one of the major 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.

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

Tawangmangu
Located 40 kms east of Solo, this recreational resort offers fresh weather, scenic views, swimming pools, bungalow style hotels and 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 m high waterfall of Grojogan Sewu.

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.

Mangkunegaran Palace of Pura Mangkunegaran
Another palace built 1757, with 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 Wednesday in the Pendopo. The palace also exhibits complete collection of masks, wayang orang costumes, leather and wooden puppets, religious articles and jewelry.

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

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 car or on horseback from the town. Built at about the same time as the temples of Dieng complex, Gedong Songo is one of the most beautifully temple complexes in Central Java. The views alone are worth the trip.

 

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