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Bandung Travel Guide: 237 reviews and 543 photos

A brief about Bandung

Bandung is located 180 km southeast of Jakarta. Bandung is situated on the Parahayangan plateau 768 meters above sea level with a cooler climate (17-28 degrees Celcius) throughout the year than the rest of the country. It is surrounded by mountains, many of which are active volcanos. These include the high peaks of Tangkubanparahu, Burangrang and Bukit Tunggul. The principal River flowing through the Bandung Region is the Citarum although it does not actually flow through Bandung City like the Cikapundung River.

Present day Bandung is thriving. As home to more than 30 schools of higher education, there is a vibrant collegiate atmosphere. The ITB still reigns supreme in Indonesian education; the Universities of Padjadjaran and Parahyangan 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.

History of Bandung

The city history dates from 1488 when the first reference to Bandung exists. But from ancient archeological finds, we know the city was home to Australopithecus, Java Man. These people lived on the banks of the Cikapundung in north Bandung, and on the shores of the Great Lake or Basin of Bandung. Flint artifacts can still be found in the Upper Dago area and the Geological Museum (at Jalan Diponegoro) has displays and fragments of skeletal remains and artifacts.

Before colonialization this region it was controlled by the Hindu-Buddhist Sundanese Kingdom of Pajajaran (near present day Bogor). Other Kingdoms eventually exterted power over this area, such as those of Cirebon and Banten. It was through these Kingdoms that this region converted to Islam.

In 1786 the great postroad was built connecting Jakarta, Bogor,Cianjur and Bandung. The Governor General H.W. Daendels was oversaw this project which went thorough the Priangan highlands to avoid swampy land. Bupati Wiranatakusumah II the regent of west Java at the time chose a site south of the road on the western bank of the Cikapundung, near a pair of holy wells, Sumur Bandung, supposedly protected by the ancient goddess Nyi Kentring Manik. 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.

The World War II 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 Ocean of Fire. Citizens fled 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. In 1955 Bandung was the host for the first Asian-African Conference.

Sundanese - the people and the culture

West Java province has its own unique culture and language, both called Sundanese, the the major ethnic group. The ancient kingdoms of Pajajaran, Tarumanegara , Banten and Cirebon are the roots of Sundanese culture. The Sundanese people are soft-spoken. Most of them are moslem, so we can see strong islamic values in their lives. They possess natural friendliness and politeness. The Sundanese are lighthearted people who have a love for bright colors. They have a strong sense of helping each other when in need. The women of the Bandung region are known for their beauty (some say this is the real reason it is called the flower city).

The mournful "kecapi" music of the Sundanese recalls beautiful legends. Some of their folk songs include: "tarawangsa", "ogel", "buncis", "beluk", "reog" and "calung". They practice two classical Sundanese dances called: "ketuk tilu" and "jaipong". These are said to be more sensuous than their Javanese counterparts. The dancing is also more happy and has a faster more dynamic rythym well suited to the beat of the gamelan orchestal music. One of the instruments of the accompanying Sundanese gamelan the kendang or drum, is eminently suited to this dynamic spirit. The sundanesse have anoter unique musical instrument called "angklung". The Angklung is an instrument made from bamboo pipes which produces a very melodious tone. A most interesting part of Sundanese culture are their Wayang Golek wooden puppets. These are clearly diffent from the Javanese tradition of Wayang Kulit which are shadow puppets. The Wayang Golek is a play of figures carved and painted on wood. The characters are shaped as those in the episodes of the Hindu Mahabrata and Ramayana. Wayang is performed not merely for entertainment but also teaches religion and philosophy. Wayang golek is performed by a "dalang", who tells the story until very late, acting as narrator, operator and performer all together. Sometimes wayang puppeteering would be combined with people dressed like puppets who would dance to the music of a gamelan orchestra. These style was called Wayang Oran (Human Puppet). The Sundanese martial arts for self defense are called "pencak silat" and "degung".

The city is also home to quite a few ethnic chinese (the chinatown is around Pasar Baru market). Javanese are the other major ethnic group in Bandung, although there is a significant European population as well.

Copyright notice:
Some images & texts (c) macalester.edu and darthmouth.edu

  • Last visit to Bandung: Jan 2006
  • Intro Updated Aug 14, 2007
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Reviews (9)

Comments (3)

  • fachd's Profile Photo
    Aug 30, 2007 at 12:42 AM

    Hai Kristy, kumaha damang. Nama ajah saya hampir sama dengan nama Kristy Kartamihardja). Bagus sejarahnja Bandung, Sundanese. Abdi juga orang Sunda tatapi atos lami di Australia. Nice bumping to you, bahasa na abdi jadi campur aduk seperti gado gado :-)

  • lukluk_wal_marjan's Profile Photo
    Jun 11, 2006 at 8:02 PM

    Tx 4 d info abt Gumilang Sari. It comes few days too late as I have booked my stay there since that the cheapest I can get after scoouring the net for months!

  • Rabbityama's Profile Photo
    Mar 11, 2006 at 10:26 AM

    The Cihampelas Walk is so colorful! It looks like a fun place to be!

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