Old Banten tour



My last tour (26 August 2007) to Old Banten was very excited because had ever been there before even I live not far from Banten, but feel sad because government don’t have a great attention about this nice historical sites as a tourist attraction. Therefore I like to share this story to my dear friends.

Old Banten is a first place where foreigners (Portugese and Dutch) visited my country Indonesia. My last tour, we visited first the Palace of Governor Banten, was built in year 1819 when Governor General Daendels in Banten and he especially built the very famous long distant way, Anyer to Panarukan (from West Java to East Java, around 1000 Km). This palace was built because the palace of Sultan Banten, Surosowan was destructed by Dutch , just because soldiers of Sultan Banten killed a man from Dutch, Du Puy (he asked assistance to the Sultan for providing labors for the long distant land transport/way). This palace was built with the Indies architecture.

Now we can see Old Banten is located 10 Km in the north side of Serang. The long way of Daendels are still noticed by old trees of java tamarind in the left and right side of the way to Old Banten. Before the Old Banten and the fish village Karangatu, we can see the destructed Kaibon Palace. Kaibon word come from ka-ibuan means the place of all wives of Sultan Banten, Maulana Muhammad. In year 1590 Sultan Maulana Muhammad died in Palembang and had a boy of 5 years from one of his wife and then he become the sultan of Banten and he was lived in this Kaibon Palace. This Palace was destructed by Dutch because they want to replace the concentration of government and trade to Batavia.

In 23 June 1596 Dutch was the first time visited Karangatu by using 4 ships with the name, Mauritus, Hollandia and Amsterdam, the last ship was military ship, called Duyfken (mean the dove bird). Those trade ships was owned by a company, Compagnie van Verre under management of Cornelis de Houtman. They was welcoming by Sultan Banten with a big ceremonial.

After that, come foreigners to Banten such as Arab, Turkey, Armenia, Persia, Venesia, Portugese, English, Denmark, Vietnam, Malay, Benggala, China, Armenia and also Indonesian peoples from other regions such as Makassar, Bugis, Madura and Palembang. So, Banten become the very popular and big trade city in Asia and Oceania. They trade spices,ceramic from China, pottery , silk cloth.

In the west side of Karangatu there was a fort , called the Speelwijk Fort, the name was to commemorate the Governor General Speelman who was respectfully by the Dutch government because he conquered the Banten and Makassar local authority. Inside the fort we can find a room where they put logistic (underground room). Outside the fort there are some Dutch cemmetaries/tomb.

Now near the Speelweijk Fort there is a Budha prayer place (kelenteng) and known as the oldest Kelenteng in Java, the name is Avalokitecvara. Here peoples come also for meditation and asking for life prediction/forecasting (ciamsi).

Other place which is very attractive is the Museum Pemda Banten which collected some historical stuff to show the Old Banten. In front the museum there is a canon, Ki Amuk sent from Iran in 15’s century. In front the Museum there is the Keraton Surosowan (palace of Banten Sultan). In front the Surosowan there is a Watu Gilang, a stone where officer of the palace announced news.

Near the Surosowan and Museum , there is an old Mosque Agung and inside the area there is a building , name Tiyamah with Indies style using as the Dutch office to spy / investigated all the activities of peoples in that mosque. The tower of the mosque was built by an architect from Mongolia , Tjek Ban Tjoet, therefore the tower look like a pagoda.The architect of Tiyamah is Lucaszoon Cardeel , a Dutch who become a Moslem.

When back to Jakarta we met a small lake, name Tasik Ardi with a small island in the middle and there was a preservation water used before for clean water, called Pangindelan, built by Sultan Agung Tirtayasa who expert in irrigation.

Here I will inform also from a history book of Old Banten, the popular peoples either the local or Dutch at that time. (may be you are a family from the sultan or governor of Dutch)…

Sultan / King of Banten (time of duty):
1. Syarief Hidayatullah Susuhunan Gunungjati – 1525
2. Maulana Hasanuddin Panembahan Surasowan – 1552
3. Maulana Yusuf Panembahan Pakalangan – 1570
4. Maulana Muhammad Pangeran Ratu Banten – 1580
5. Sultan Abulmafachir Mahmud – 1596
6. Sultan Abul Ma’ali Ahmad Kenari – 1640
7. Sultan Agung Tirtaya – 1651
22. The last , is Sultan Muhammad Rafi’uddin – 1813.

Residen / authority of Dutch in Banten :
J. Bruijen wi (1817), Vas Wit, J. de Puij, J.H. Pobias, P.Van de Poel, A.Aburakami de Malurda, F.H. Sinulders, Jhr. T.L. Hora Siecama, Jhr. C.F. Coldinan, D.A. Bruijn, C.a.e. Wigers, C.F. Brest van Kemper, C.P. de Lanoy, O.Van Polanen Petel, J.H. Vander Palm, B. Van Baak, F.E.P Van den Boasch, W.F Van Andel, Nr. J.P. Metman, A.J. Span, E.A. Engerbrecht, J.A. Velders, B.H.H. Reven Waay, J.A. Hederman, F.R. Svenduyn, C.W.A Van Rinsum, H.L.C.B Vienten, Byleveld, C.Caune (1920)

Banten Governor Palace before

Banten Governor Palaca now

Multatuli or Jan Pieter C Coon palace
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the Kaibon Palace

Kaibon palace now

the Agung Mosque before

Mesjid Agung now

Agung Mosque Banten

Agung Mosque Tower

the Tiyamah building

Dutch cemmetery near Speelwijk fort

Surosowan Palace

Surosowan Palace

In surosowan palace

the Speelwijk fort

the Speelwijk fort

Speelwijk fort

inside the fort (underground)

Kelenteng Avalokitecvara

Big Kelenteng in Java


baduy tribe -baduy village

The Baduy: Keepers of tradition, natural heritage

The Baduy ethnic tribe live in a territory located only around 165 kilometers west of Jakarta, in Banten province. As such, information obviously has easy access to the area, along with all its impacts. Moreover, the two nearby cities of Cilegon and Serang are growing rapidly, encroaching ever closer to the Baduy’s ancestral lands.

Even so, the Baduy community continue to observe their traditional way of life, through a strict and loyal adherence to their age-old customs.

The Baduy territory is divided into Baduy Dalam and Baduy Luar, or inner and outer districts. Visitors wishing to enter Inner Baduy have to travel through several villages, including Cijengkol in Outer Baduy.

This village is about three hours’ walk from Simpang Koranji, the last public transport terminal before reaching Baduy territory. The terrain leading to Cijengkol varies from rocky ground, hilly tracks and farmland to paddy fields. A white board and a field of pineapple bushes serve as a boundary between Baduy and non-Baduy territory. From here onwards, the rows of hills and woods adorning the territory are clearly visible, though the Baduy settlements are curiously obscured by dense foliage and hills.

Cijengkol has about 10 imah, or stilted houses, one of which belongs to Sarmin, 50, known to provide stopover facilities and lodging for tourists.

The village is made up of modest homes with wooden pillars, woven bamboo walls, palm-fiber-lined sago leaf roofs as well as wooden and bamboo couches in front. Using only local materials, the dwellings are built without nails or pegs, and are unpainted. Yellow plastic twine, however, is used to fasten the roofs.

“Palm fibers are now more expensive than plastic cords,” said Sarmin.

At night, Cijengkol is dark, as the neat and well-arranged homes have no electricity, and light comes only from wood stoves and small oil lamps. It’s so quiet that only the sound of bamboo trees rustling in the breeze can be heard.

The Baduy people, according to Sarmin, embrace the faith of Sunda Wiwitan. Baduy’s custom and heritage chief, who is also the head of the indigenous religion, is called pu’un. There are three chiefs in Baduy Dalam.

“Members of the Baduy community go on a fast, or kawalu, every year,” Sarmin said.

Kawalu ends with a feast day led by the pu’un called ngalaksa, the equivalent of Idul Fitri at the end of the Muslim fasting month, Ramadhan.

Sarmin said that the Baduy had refused the government’s cash aid for the poor in compensation for the fuel hike. The designation “poor” had prompted locals to turn down the assistance, because they thought many people were more disadvantaged than they. “If the aid had used a label other than “poor”, they might have accepted it,” he added.

Why were the Baduy people bold enough to reject cash aid? It is because the Baduy are already self-sufficient in food, clothing and shelter within the structure of their modest lifestyle.

This is reflected in the daily diet of Baduy families, comprising rice, fish, tempeh, tofu, salad and sambal (chili sauce). Most of the food — including cooking oil — come from their farms, while fabrics and clothing are locally produced except salt and fish, which have to be purchased. Their income mainly originates in the sales of vegetables, fruits, honey and handicrafts. In other words, the Baduy people are not consumers.




Beyond the bridge

Visiting the Baduy would not be complete without entering Inner Baduy, whose residents are the Tangtu. From Cijengkol, the terrain is no less challenging, with natural paths, farmland, woods, rivers and undulating tracks.

A bamboo bridge spans Ciujung River, which separates Inner and Outer Baduy. About 10 meters long, the bridge was built by binding bamboo stems with palm fiber ropes. Two big trees on opposite banks serve as supporting pillars, making it solid and safe, though it may be simple in appearance.

Cikartawarna is one of three villages in Inner Baduy. It is deserted during the day, because most villagers are working on their farms and in the woods. The rows of stilted houses are built atop rock-packed foundations to make them resistant to landslides.

The next village is Cibeo, an hour’s walk from Cikatawarna through bamboo copses, several outdoor “showers” made from channeled springs, and granaries. The interior set-up of its houses is not very different from that in Cikatawarna. For instance, in the tepas, or sitting room, of villager Sanif’s home, no modern furnishings like chairs, tables and mattresses are to be found, let alone a radio or a TV, and only a stove and utensils made of wood or bamboo are found in the kitchen.

Inner Baduy residents who have never left the district are generally reticent and inclined to be visitor-shy, perhaps due to their rare interaction with outsiders. But some of them are fairly fluent in Bahasa Indonesia and more open to guests, like 24-year-old Sanif. He claimed to have walked to Jakarta and other areas several times.

“I’ve got some acquaintances in Jakarta,” he said.



The Tangtu and Panamping

The Baduy, or Urang Kanekes, as they prefer to be called, live around valleys, hills and Kanekes River in groups made up of the Tangtu and the residents of Outer Baduy, or the Panamping. As inhabitants of Kanekes, the Panamping are part of the community and must thus obey all the rules imposed on them by the pu’un.

This community has its own way of resisting the various elements and forces of modern culture.

Tangtu men are usually dressed in a white, hand-sewn, long-sleeved shirt without collars or buttons and match black sarongs below, while the Tangtu women members wear a white kebaya (traditional blouses) and black cloths that are wrapped around to form skirts.

Their Panamping male counterparts, in contrast, are clad in black, with Panamping females wearing black or dark blue blouses. The other Baduy characteristics are headdresses and daggers strapped to the waist, and they walk without any footwear, even on long treks.

Cikartawarna, Cibeo and Cikeusik are the three Tangtu villages that are inhabited only by those Baduy who obey the entire set of customs, including traditional prohibitions. Among others, prohibitions include smoking, committing crimes like fighting and killing, divorce and traveling by transportation — they must walk barefoot when going to Merak, Jakarta or Bandung.

Tangtu customs also ban several kinds of modern commodities like electricity and electronics. The Inner Baduy believe that if they possess prohibited goods, they will become mamala, or cursed.

All houses are searched periodically for forbidden goods by the Baduy’s “security officers”, called baresan, as ordered by the pu’un.

Meanwhile, the Panamping are found in the western, eastern and northern parts bordering Inner Baduy. Their customs are more lenient than the Tangtu’s.

For example, they are not banned from traveling by car when going to a city. But both Tangtu and Panamping members are not allowed to go to school. In their view, schooling makes them intelligent, and smart people sometimes become greedy, justifying any means to become wealthy and finally rejecting the Baduy custom and heritage. Thus, the knowledge the Baduy hand down to their children is limited to ngored, or farming skills, conservation and wise utilization of resources.

Any violation of customary prohibitions is liable to verbal warnings and punitive measures, with total banishment from the Baduy region as the severest verdict.



Preserving a way of life

Prohibitions are also applied to non-Baduy visitors: Mongoloid, ethnic African and Caucasian people are banned from entering Inner Baduy. In other words, international tourists are only permitted to visit Panamping. If this custom is breached, it is the Tangtu themselves who will face kuwalat or pamali — retribution for disrespectful conduct.

Visitors are also only allowed to stay for one night.

Guests are denied entry to Inner Baduy during the kawalu fasting period. Taking pictures is also forbidden in Inner Baduy, and those who are photographed in this area must fast the whole day. Even among the Panamping, some Outer Baduy members refuse to be photographed, so visitors should seek their permission first.

Rivers are Baduy’s main source of fresh water for cooking, washing and bathing. The Baduy care very much about river conservation so the use of polluting products is banned, including soap, detergent, shampoo and toothpaste.

Also, flashlights should be used minimally when going to the bathing springs or walking at night, and speech, laughter and joking must be controlled so as not to cause a disturbance.

While these rules might be a deterrent, visitors should remember that they are guests of a unique culture and a people who have maintained their traditional way of life, even against the intense wave of modernization.



Travel tips

From Jakarta, visitors can go by car or public transport. The most economical way is taking a train from Kota to Rangkasbitung station, where minibuses take passengers from the terminal to Simpang Koranji, the last village accessible to vehicles.

Among the gateways to Outer Baduy most frequently used by tourists are Ciboleger and Simpang Koranji. The route is more difficult from Ciboleger due to its hilly terrain, whereas the route from Koranji is easier but longer. After trekking from Koranji, visitors may spend the night in Cijengkol, the farthest point international visitors are permitted. Cijengkol is a good place to directly observe the Baduy custom and communal life. Local tourists can continue their hike to Inner Baduy the next morning.

Wear shoes or sandals designed for trekking, and sweat-absorbing clothing like cotton T-shirts. Hats, flashlights, and rain coats or ponchos are also indispensable, along with sleeping bags and personal needs such as medicine, food and drink.