Bandung, located in Indonesia is the capital of the West Java province and is located 180 kms to the south east of the Jakarta the capital of Indonesia. The ‘City of Flowers’ as Bandung is often referred to is a popular weekend get away for the residents of Jakarta who come here to shop at the numerous factory outlet shops that dot the city and enjoy the relatively cooler weather of Bandung. Bandung is located at an elevation of 768 meters above sea level on a plateau in the Parahayangan Mountains. The terrain of Bandung is volcanic in nature and it has in its northern part an active volcano called Tangkuban Perahu Volcano. The city of Bandung is situated in the center of the Bandung Basin which is located on an ancient volcano called Mount Sunda. The basin has the Citarum River flowing through it with one of its tributaries the Cikapundung running through Bandung and dividing the city into north and south. The fertile soil created by volcanic activity in the northern part of the city as well as alluvial deposits of the river in the south eastern part of the city have made the area around Bandung suitable for the cultivation of tea, coffee, tobacco, rice and other tropical fruit.
Apart from its factory outlet trade, Bandung occupies an important place in the educational sphere of Indonesia. It is home to several private and state administered schools as well as sixteen universities. Three of these universities are government owned and administered. The most renowned University in Bandung is the Institut Teknologi Bandung, it was established in 1920 under the Dutch who colonized Indonesia as Bandung Technisch Hogeschool. The school building was designed by Henri Maclaine Pont in a style which combined western elements with the local architecture as a result the ceremonial hall of the institute is topped by a typical Javanese style roof. The city is a magnet for students from all over Indonesia.
History of Bandung
The history and evolution of Bandung can be traced back to 1488. Archeological finds indicate that the Java man was found here. The early inhabitants of Bandung were the Hindu Sundanese people; they were peaceful pastoral folk who developed a style of music which is till date is found in the Wayang Golek Puppet Theater.
During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries Bandung like the rest of Indonesia was occupied by the Dutch East India Company. The Dutch realized the value of the fertile land in Bandung and indulged in much plantation activity. In the nineteenth century South American cinchona (quinine), Assam tea and coffee were some of the crops introduced by the Dutch colonists in Bandung. During the Dutch occupation important road and rail links were built linking Bandung to Jakarta and other parts of Java.
This was an important development in the history of Bandung as it aided Bandung’s rise to prominence. It was at this time Bandung was referred to as ‘the Paris of Java.’ The Dutch plantation owners, wanting to keep up their European lifestyle built several buildings, hotels, theaters and stores along Bandung’s Jalan Braga which became a quasi ‘Champs Elysées’. This was the golden age of Bandung , the Concordia society was built at this time and the grand ballroom of the Concordia society was the epicenter of weekend social activity. Hotels such as Preanger and the Savoy Homman were frequented by the Dutch. The city’s parks with their exotic tropical blooms flourished and led to Bandung being called the ‘City of Flowers’ or ‘Kota Kembang’.
The railroad which was built between Bandung and Jakarta to facilitate shipments to Europe brought the Chinese to Bandung . They came to run the light industries that had sprung up in Bandung and the origin of Bandung’s Chinatown can also be traced back to this period.
In the early twentieth century the Dutch declared ‘Pax Neerlandica’ and the government was transformed from a military government to a civilian one. Bandung became a municipality in 1906. At this time the Dutch decided to move the capital of the Netherlands Indies from Batavia (Jakarta) to Bandung. Much development and building activity resulted in Bandund including the establishment of the Technische Hoogeschool which is now Institut Teknologi Bandung. This era in Bandung’s evolution is called ‘Bandung Tempoe Deoloe’ or the golden era.
The future plans of the Dutch were cut short by World War II as the Dutch were unable to regain their colonial might after the war.The Indonesians gained independence from the Dutch in 1945 after much resistance. Bandung was the center of this resistance and saw heavy fighting. Bandung was declared the capital of the province of West Java after the Indonesian declaration of Independence in 1945. The population swelled in Bandung rapidly after this event.
In 1955 Bandung held the Asia Africa Conference attended by many prominent world leaders at which the seeds of the Non–Aligned Movement were sown. The conference was held at the Gedung Merdeka which was the former Concordia Society under the Dutch. Later in the 1970’s more economic prosperity followed due to the oil boom and the population swelled further.
Today Bandung is a thriving if not somewhat chaotically developed city which is inhabited by two million people and is a popular weekend holiday destination.
The weather in Bandung is a pleasant 23°C (74°F) all year round. The rains come to Bandung in the months of November to April. The month of January sees the heaviest rainfall in Bandung.
The residents of Bandung being of Sundanese origin speak the Sundanese language in addition to the ‘Bahasa Indonesia’ which is the official language of Indonesia.
Getting to Bandung
The Bandung Husein Sastranegara International airport located near the Dirgantara aerospace complex and the Dirgantara fairground is served by international flights from Singapore and Malaysia and local carriers from Jakarta as well .The domestic services are provided by Merpati Nusantara Airlines, Sempati Air and Deraya airlines. A flight from Jakarta takes only thirty minutes to get to Bandung.
There are number of highways which can be used to access Bandung by road. From Jakarta there are three main highways the first and the fastest route to Bandung is on the intercity toll highway called Cipularang toll road. One can get to Bandung from Jakarta in one and a half hours. The Puncak route and the Subang route are other alternative highways one can use to access Bandung.
Bandung is connected to Jakarta by train as well. The train to Bandung leaves from Gambir station in Jakarta. The train covers a picturesque route on a three hour journey through paddy fields, mountains and tea plantations. There are rail links to cities such as Cianjur and Taskikmalaya and Cilacap as well.
Getting around Bandung
The best way to get around Bandung is by taxi though it is not as efficient as the taxi service of Jakarta. The taxis are not metered so it is best to negotiate the fare before embarking on your journey. Blue Bird and Gemari Pahah Taxi are the taxi services to use. One can also hire a driver with a car to go around Bandung. This year(2007) the Metro is to be launched in Bandung called Trans Metro Bandung. The metro is set to connect East and West Bandung.
There is also a privately owned minibus service called angkot which operates on the roads of Bandung. City owned buses are called DAMRI run on the longer routes. There are two intercity bus terminals in Bandung. Leuwipanjang is the terminal which serves buses from the West and Cicaheum is the terminal which serves buses from the east.
Kebun Binatang (Bandung Zoo) near Institut Teknologi Bandung
The Bandung Zoo has on display a number of exotic animals and birds, some of which are native to Indonesia. The Komodo dragon lizard, tigers from Java and Sumatara, monkeys and Orangutans and many varieties of birds can be seen at the Bandung Zoo.
Situated 25 kilometers north of Bandung in the direction of Lembang is Bandung’s most famous volcano. The name of the volcano itself means overturned boat. The active crater is called Kawah Ratu and one can travel by car to the rim of the crater. There is also another smaller and less active crater called Kawah Domas. Here there are sulphuric springs and one can boil an egg in these springs such is the heat generated. Most visitors do so to get an actual taste of the volcano and enterprising locals sell eggs here to facilitate the quest of the visitors.
Ciater Hot Springs
The Ciater Hot Spring resort is very well known for its sulphuric waters which have therapeutic and medicinal value. The waters are popular with folk who have rheumatic problems for these waters are said to have analgesic and sedative properties as well.
Mt Putuhu and Kawah Putih
Mt Putuhu is located in south west Bandung. Kawah Putih is a lovely picturesque lake in the mountains.
Cimanggu Hot Springs
Yet another location where there are springs with sulphuric waters. These are less crowded that those at Ciater. These springs are located at Cimanggu which is a two hour drive from Bandung.
Bandung is often referred to as the ‘City of Flowers or Kota Kembang’,Cihideung is an area near Bandung whose soil is very conducive to growing flowers and all the residents of Cihideung sell flowers. This destination is often a choice of conference organizers as a part of their itinerary to show off not only the exotic blooms but also the beautiful Sundanese women of the region. The name ‘City of Flowers’ alludes to the beautiful residents of Cihideung as well.
Bogor and Taman Safari
A long four hour drive from Bandung brings you to the ‘city of rain’ called Bogor. Here one must visit the Botanical Gardens located in the palace of ‘Buitenzorg’. Taman safari is a zoo and an amusement park on the way to Puncak which is very popular with the folk from Jakarta.
A number of international hotel chains such as the Sheraton and the Hyatt have a presence in Bandung. The Sheraton (Jalan ir H Juanda 390) is located in the on the slopes of the Dago area close to the city center and surrounded by the mountains. It has all the amenities of a modern hotel. The historic Hotel Savoy Homann and The Grand Hotel Preanger which were popular centers of social activity during the Dutch times still stand in their art deco magnificence on Jalan Asia Afrika.
The concept of factory outlet shopping gained popularity in Bandung in the late 1990s. These outlets sell clothes which are product over runs and rejects of garments meant for export. Bandung has seventy five percent of all of Indonesia’s garment export factories. Outlets sell garments tagged with popular brands such as Guess, Calvin Klein and Banana Republic etc. These outlets are located around Dago Street, Martadinata Street, Setiabundhi Street and Buahbatu Street. These factory outlets represent paradise for those in search of a bargain.
Jalan Cihampelas is popularly known as ‘Jeans street’ as here the vendors here sell mostly denim jeans and vie to outdo each other in their effort to attract customers by decorating their shop fronts elaborately.
Yet another area worth visiting for a tourist is the flower market located at Jalan Wastukencana. Exotic blooms grown on the surrounding mountains are sold at this market..On Jalan Braga which is the historic street of Bandung there are many antique and souvenir stores. One of the most famous stores located here is Sin Sin which was founded in 1943.
Bandung also has modern malls in its Alun-Alun area. The most luxurious malls in Bandung are Bandung Indah Plaza and Bandung Super mall.