Friday, June 27, 2008

Bandung History Revisited

These two young people were looking at a ten-meter long banner outlining Bandung's historical highlights. The banner was displayed at a festival recently organized by STV - a local television station - on Braga street. The banner was put up as part of the efforts to educate the citizens, particularly the youths, about the city's history.

While it is not one of the oldest cities in Indonesia (it's officially only 198 years old this year; compare this to Jakarta, for example, which is officially 481 years old this year) , Bandung has a fascinating history. The following is the excerpt of Bandung's history from Wikipedia:

Early Settlement
Although the oldest reference to the city dates back to 1488, where it was the capital of the Kingdom of Pajajaran, there have been some archaeological findings of Austropithecus or Java Man, living in the banks of Cikapunding river and around the old lake of Bandung.

Dutch East India Company (VOC)
During the 17th-18th centuries, the Dutch East Indies company (VOC), made small plantation area in the fertile and properous Bandung area. A supply road connecting Batavia (now Jakarta), Bogor, Cianjur, Bandung, Sumedang and Cirebon was built in 1786.

In 1809, Louis Napoleon, the ruler of the Netherlands and its colonies, ordered the Dutch Indies Governor H.W. Daendels to increase the defense system of Java island against British. Daendels built a road, stretching about 1000 km from the west coast to the east cost of Java. Since the northern part of West Java at that time was only swamp and marsh, the road was diverted through Bandung.The Great Postweg (now Jalan Asia-Afrika) was laid down in 1810.

Local folklore has it that when Daendels was walking along the edge of Cikapundung river, He was amazed by the site where he stood. He then put a stick at the edge of the Cikapundung and said: "Zorg, dat als ik terug kom hier een stad is gebouwd!" ('Attention! If I come again here, a city must be built!'). Today, this site is the center of Bandung, the kilometer zero of the city. R.A. Wiranatakusumah II, the regent of Bandung regency at that time, moved its office from Krapyak, in the south, to a place near a pair of holy city wells (sumur Bandung), today this site is the alun-alun (city square). He built his istana (palace), masjid agung (the grand mosque) and pendopo ("pavilion") in the classical orientation. The pendopo faces Tangkuban Perahu mountain, who was believed to have a mystical ambience.

In 1880, the first major railroad between Batavia and Bandung was laid down. It gave a high boost of light industry in Bandung. Chinese migrants flocked in to help run the facilities, services and vendor machines. A small old Chinatown district can still be recognised in the vicinity of the railroad station. In 1906, Bandung was given the status of gemeente (municipality) and then later as staadsgemeente (city municipality) in 1926.

Having location in a lowland, surrounded by a ring of mountains, Bandung is strategically advantageous for military defense. In 1930s, Dutch East Indies government had planned to move the capital from Batavia to Bandung. The Dutch East Indies government built military barracks, the central government building (Gouvernments Bedrijven, nicknamed Gedung Sate) and other buildings. However, this plan has never been realised following the failure of the Dutch to reclaim Indonesia after the World War II.

A more complete account can be found here.


Steve Buser said...

Interesting history. The picture is neat -- I can't read a word of it, but a timeline is a timeline in any language.

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Ming said...

That's quite a lot of history there and thanks for sharing. I've never been to Bandung but it seems very interesting place.

P.S: Nice blog you have there.

Greeting from Singapore.

Ming said...

That's quite a lot of history there. I never been to Bandung but it sure looks very interesting place.

Nice blog you have there.

Greeting from Singapore.

Dina said...

Thank you for the history lesson. I needed it. Lots to learn on your blog and nice photos to illustrate.

Greetings from Jerusalem.