Semarang Capital of Central Java
Central Java is known as the center of the Java culture. In this province we come across the palaces of the kingdom which still exist until now: the Palace of Kasunanan and Mangkunegaran.
The Central Java Province has many one of its kind regions so suitable to become tourism destinations. One that they are most proud of is the Borobudur Temple which is the largest Buddhism monument in the world and it is located in Magelang Regency.
Places of Interest
Semarang is situated on Java’s northern coast and it is the capital of Central Java. 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 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 radius of about 60 kilometers, the following places are recommended: Jepara, northeast of Semarang, is surrounded by white sandy beaches, and also famous for its wood carving industry. An ancient Portuguese Fort can be found in the east of Jepara. Kudus, about halfway between Jepara and Semarang is home to the Minaret Mosque, which was built in the 15th century. It is also famed for its kretek (traditional clove cigarette) industry. The city of Demak is home to Masjid Agung Demak, Java’s oldest mosque.
Borobudur Temple is the largest Buddhist temple of 123 x 123 meters from the 9th century. This temple was built centuries before Angkor Wat Temple in Cambodia. It has 1.460 reliefs and 504 stupas inside the complex. It is so stunning. So, it is not surprising if this temple enlisted in the World Wonder Heritages is a place many people yearn for.
This temple was built to serve as a place to perform rituals and it was finally done after nearly a century from the first time it was started. The name “Borobodur”, according to some people, means a mountain with many terraces (budhara), whilst some others said that Borobudur meant a monastery built in a higher ground.
Borobudur is a terraced construction comprising 10 levels and 42 meters of height. The six lower levels come in a square form and the three higher level come in circular form and one level which is the highest is a Buddha statue called stupa which stands facing the west.
Every level has beautiful reliefs which will be orderly interpreted when they are traced clockwise (the east side of the temple entrance). Those reliefs account the Ramayana epic and the condition of the society at that time. But, on the whole, the reliefs found in Borobudur Temple reflect the teachings of Buddhism.
It is not hard at all to reach this tourism site. Borobudur Temple is located in Magelang Regency, Central Java. It only takes an hour drive from the city center of Yogyakarta. The tourists who want to visit this temple are recommended not to wear shorts or mini trousers in order to show some respect to the ‘sacred’ site of the Buddhist followers. But, if you happen to wear them, you can have long cloth by renting it from the management of the site.
Mendut temple Besides Borobudur Temple, Magelang Regency also boasts other Buddhist temples. One of them is the Mendut Temple which is located close to Borobudur Temple, only about three kilometers to the east. This temple is often used as the site of the celebration of Waisak Day that falls in the full moon in every May and this celebration invite pilgrims from Indonesia as well as overseas.
Mendut Temple, which is older than Borobudur Temple, has three huge statue: Cakyamuni which sits in cross-legged position with the hand turning the wheel of duty, Avalokitesvara as Bodhisattva help humans and Maitreya as the savior of humans in the future. At the temple walls we can enjoy reliefs that tell children stories. It is a square-shape construction of many levels with an entrance right on the stairs. Its roof also comes in square shape with stupa on it.
Besides Borobudur and Mendut Temple, there is also this smaller temple called Ngawen Temple located in Magelang. This temple can be found in Ngawen Village, some five kilometers before Mendut Temple from the direction of Yogyakarta. This temple is located in the middle of rice fields so that it is so tempting for the tourists to visit it and at the same time enjoying the green scenery of rice fields.
Ngawen Temple consists of five small temples, two of them have different shape decorated with lion statues on it four corners. A headless Buddha statue in a sitting position can be found in one of the temples. Reliefs on the sides are also worth looking at because they are still in a clear and good shape and they are the sculptures of Kinnara, Kinnari and Kalamakara.
Bandungan and Gedong Songo Temple
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) is a group of small 8th century Hindu Javanese temples that can be reached either by car or on horseback from Ungaran. Built at about the same time as the temples of the Dieng complex, Gedong Songo is one of the most beautiful temple complexes in Central Java. The views alone are worth the trip.
Tlogo Plantation has cool air and beautiful view with various plantations such as coffee, rubber, nutmeg and cloves. It is located 6 kilometers or only 10 minutes drive from Ambarawa Railway Museum.
Dieng Plateau. About 4 hours from Semarang is the Dieng Plateau, the site of some of the oldest Hindu temples on Java. The 50-foot high structures stand on the crater floor amidst sulfurous fumes. The road to the Dieng Plateau passes through tobacco plantations and beautiful mountain scenery.
Baturaden. Central Java’s most popular resort is approximately 14 kilometers north of Purwokerto, an administrative town in the southern end of Java. It occupies a beautiful spot on the slopes of Mount Slamet, 650 meters above sea level. The cool air, lush gardens, soothing pine forest, relaxing hot springs, ponds and bungalowstyle hotels offer a rejuvenating retreat for the tired body and soul.
Jatijajar Cave. A magnificent cave near Pantai Ayah (Ayah Beach) 170 kilometers from Solo. It also has a beautiful tunnel containing stalagmites and stalactites. The cave has a number of lakes and rivers that beckon the more adventurous visitors to explore.
Archeological Museum and site in Sangiran
Sangiran Park is an area where Fossil Museum and archeological site of Sangiran is located. Sangiran is a the largest prehistoric site in the world because it extends in an area of 56 km2 land. Apart of being such an interesting and unique tourism destination, Sangiran also serves as a research site for prehistoric life which is the most important and complete in Asia, even in the world. Sangiran is in Sragen, Central java or some 20 km off the city of Solo.
Sangiran area became so popular when the fossil of the lower jaw of the ‘Java Man’ Pithecanthropus erectus was found. In this area as many as 13 thousands fossils have been found. These fossils are of humans, animals, prehistoric plants. Other than seeing the collection of fossils kept in the museum, the tourists can also enjoy the fresh air of the hills around the museum compound.
It’s not that hard for the tourists who want to visit this area to arrive at Sangiran. From Solo, tourists can rent a car and drive there for about a couple of hours or take a public transportation which is so available when they depart from the city of Solo.
Solo is 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. It is home of two royal houses that held 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 major centers of Batik and souvenir hunters may be lucky enough to find old Javanese antiques. The becak (three-wheeled rickshaw) and andong (traditional horse-drawn carriage) are the most flexible types of traditional transportation within the city and are readily available.
Kasunanan Palace. This is the royal 17th century residence of King Pakubowono. The palace houses an art gallery exhibiting royal heirlooms, antiques and other invaluable objects in a genuinely royal Javanese setting. The palace is open daily to the public from 9.00 am to 2.00 pm and is closed on Fridays.
This palace was built in 1757 in typical Javanese architecture, i.e. it has a pendopo, or open front hall in which to receive guests, a pringitan (a porch to hold leather puppet shadow plays) 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. Visitors can watch dancers practicing in Mangkunegaran palace on Wednesdays from 10.00 am to 12.00 pm.
Wirun Tourist Village
Wirun Village is a village known for its craftsmanship in gamelan music instruments. Apart from gamelan, the villagers also produce a range of arts and textiles goods like paper puppet craft, kris crafting, jumputan textile craft, wooden batik craft and so forth.
In this village the tourists can have fun at the fishing pond and enjoy the bonsai collection. Art performances such as kethoprak, jathilan, karawitan and campursari keroncong orchestra are also frequently performed in this village as the tourist attractions of the city of Solo.
Wirun village is located in Mojolaban District and it is easy to access from various directions. This village is located 5 kilometers to the east of Solo. From Solo, the tourists can take a taxi or other public transportation to reach the village.
Located 40 kilometers east of Solo, this recreational resort offers fresh air, scenic views, swimming pools, bungalows and restaurants. It lies on the slopes of Mr. Lawu, at an elevation of 1,300 meters above sea level. Other features nearby include temple ruins, a national park, and the 40 meters high Grojogan Sewu waterfall.
Only 34 kilometers from Solo is the late 15th century Sukuh Hindu Temple from the Majapahit era. The temple uniquely decorated with erotic stone carvings and thought to be dedicated to the ancient Tantric concept of spiritual liberation.
Kemuning Tea Plantation
Kemuning Tea Plantation is located between Sukuh and Ceto temples. A pleasing 300 hectares of tea plantations cover the area like a vibrant green rug.
Ambarawa Railway Museum
Located some 50 kilometers south of Semarang, the museum houses a collection of locomotives of various type and era. Visitors can take a nostalgic cog railway ride from Ambarawa to Bedono, a nearby village. Prior arrangements should be made for groups. Also of interest are a collection of antique telephones and other instrument used in railway communication.
Gong Cave is located along the road to Pacitan, some 70 kilometers south of Solo. Locals still believe that on certain Fridays the sounds of a traditional ‘jaranan’ gong being played can be heard coming from deep inside the cave.
Ceto Temple is located in western slope of Mt. Lawu, Gumeng village, in Jenawi district of Karanganyar- Surakarta. It is located on a hill about 1,400 meters above sea level. Ceto temple is constructed in levels as is typical of Hindu temples. Relief at the temple depict scenes of human passion, the most difficult of obstacles on the road to purification of the soul.
Waisak (Vesak) Ceremony, Magelang. This grand celebration of the birth of the Buddha is held at Borobudur and Mendut temples and attended by devotees from all over Indonesia and abroad.
Wayang Orang (Javanese Opera) performed every night from 8 pm to 10 pm in Sriwedari Auditorium, Solo. Closed on Sundays.
Sekaten Fair, Solo. This is a traditional Javanese fair held during the Islamic month of Rabiul Awal (or Javanese month of ‘Mulud’) to commemorate the birth of the Prophet Muhammad. The fair takes place at the Alunalun Utara (Northern Square) of the Kraton. It is open to visitors day and night. A similar festival is also held in Yogyakarta.