Meet Prehistoric Java Man
The Solo river valley, north-east of Solo, is an important source of prehistoric fossils. Half of the world's findings of Pithecantropus Erectus or Homo Erectus skulls were made here, along with countless animal bones and flake tools.
In 1996 the "Sangiran Early Man Site" was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List as number 593. This encouraged the Indonesian government to develop the site for tourism and education of the public on evolution. A master plan has been proposed for constructing four visitors' centers. In 2012 we found the first of these completed and open to the public - indeed several school groups arrived. For the humble beginnings of the museum, see our travelogue.
The displays at this new "Krikilan visitors' centre" aim to educate the general public on evolution generally, but also provide many specific details on the fossil discoveries in the Sangiran area and the conditions that led to so many fossils being preserved here. This compound also houses the offices and the work rooms of the conservators and the storage facilities - almost daily more fossils are found by villagers and brought in here.
The Sangiran site covers some 50 km2. One can tour the neighbourhood to the actual sites where hominid fossils have been found. On three of these more visitors' centers will be built. The "Dayu cluster" is now under construction and will feature excavation boxes where 1,2 million years old flake tools have been found. The "Ngebung cluster" will elaborate the discovery in 1934 by Koenigswald of flake tools which soon after led to the discovery of homo erectus fossil remains. The "Bukuran cluster" will focus on early man fossils found in Sangiran and on human evolution. At 2 km from the centre a tower has been built for viewing the area.
Hours: 8am to 4pm (Mondays closed).
Admission: Rp 5,000 (Rp 3,500 for the grounds, Rp 1,500 for the museum, 2012).
Another, smaller museum is located at Trinil, 80 km from Solo. It boasts copies of the humanoid skulls found there, the originals are in the Netherlands. It also has educational displays for local visitors. Take a bus to Ngawi-Madiun, drop off 11 km before Ngawi at the turnoff to the north for Trinil. From the turnoff it is 3 km.
A more recent and interesting fossil discovery site is located in Kudus regency. See Patiayam tip.
- Museum Visits
Visiting the erotic temples
We booked a car and driver through our hotel for this trip. This was considerably cheaper than the price we had been quoted by a travel agency earlier. The erotic temples are Candi Ceto and Candi Sukuh. They are fairly near each other and with transport can easily be visited on the same day. There is a waterfall nearby, too, though we did not go to see it.
Candi Sukuh is open from 9am to 5pm and costs around 10,000 Rp to visit. The main temple building is like a pyramid with the point cut off. You can climb up to the flat roof for a view over the complex and surrounding area.
The temple is called an erotic temple due to housing several statues with rather large penises. They are more funny than erotic. The highlight of the temple is the stunning view over the surrounding countryside. There are tea plantations, rice paddies, coffee plantations all in contrasting shades of green. It is stunning.
Candi Ceto also has stunning views. It is open from 9am-5pm and costs around 10,000Rp to enter. This temple is set out over several different terraces and also contains erotic statues.
Both temples were the highlight of our trip to Solo.
- Historical Travel
Solo has two palaces. Puri Mangkunegaran is the smaller one, but it is supposedly better kept. You have to go round on a tour which I don't normally like doing, but our guide was really interesting and funny and told us lots about the objects in the palace which we would never have known without him.
The royal family still live in part of this palace and I'm pretty sure we saw a princess or two wandering around. It's possible to book dinner with the royal family apparently though we did not try this.
Buy your entrance ticket at main palace entrance and take the tour. It is open Monday - Saturday 8.30am - 2pm and Sunday 8.30am -1pm.
- Castles and Palaces
- Historical Travel
Living Candi Ceto, and more
Another tip on Ceto temple? Yes, the reasons I explained in my Sukuh temple tip. If you go to see one, you should visit both. The 9 km from Candi Sukuh to Candi Ceto take you through tea plantations and past deep valleys. It feels like the road will take you into the sky.
Candi Ceto lies much higher than Candi Sukuh, at 1500 m on a forested slope of Lawu mountain. It does not have the abundance of carvings and statues of Candi Sukuh. But while candi Sukuh is just a tourist attraction, candi Ceto is an active place of Hindu devotion.
The truncated pyramid on the top has been restored in the 80s, but badly. Even for a layman’s eye it is evident that the parapet and altar do not fit in.
Entrance fee is Rp 10,000 for foreigners, Rp 2,500 for residents (2007). A weathered panel explains the salient features of the temple in Indonesian and in 'Indonesian English'.
A village has sprung up at the foot of the temple. A few losmen are waiting for the stray tourist who wants to stay over. You might do so to go hiking in the neighbourhood. A 3 to 4 hours hike along the slopes of Lawu mountain takes you to Tawangmangu, where there is ample choice of accommodation.
While you are here, take the short walk to two recent additions of Hindu devotion, candi Kethek and puri Sarashati. What with the janur (palm leaf) decorations and white and yellow cloth, you might imagine you're in Bali.
For more details see our travelogue Candi Ceto.
- Hiking and Walking
- Arts and Culture
Solo: A City of Culture
I go places not just for the sake of going and I don't consider lolling in the sun on the beach with a beer in my hand to be the ultimate in traveling experience. Each society has its own particularity, its own culture and mores. One of my purposes in traveling to an exotic location is to observe its special character. Solo is claimed by its citizens to be a city of art and culture and it has the ambition to excel its rival city of Jogja in every way. I spent one afternoon going around the central part of the city on foot observing anything that would throw some light on its culture. I preferred to walk around instead of taking a taxi or becak. I decided to begin by taking a quick look at the area around my hotel, Premier Best Western, which was just across from the Slamet Riyadi monument. I went around the monument and beyond it. The entrance to the city grounds (Alun-Alun) was guarded by the traditional giant black Dwarpals (Gate Keepers), one on each side. My hotel had a beautiful fountain with the figures of women all around it and there was also a statue of a woman reclining on a bench. The initial impression was quite favourable. I began my leisurely walk westward on Jl Slamet Riyadi. A couple of blocks to the west of Premier Best Western, I came across a sight that could have blown my hat away. It seemed to be an apartment building that was colonial in appearance. Its original beauty was visible in a part of it which was maintained in its original design. No major changes seemed to have been made to its structure or decorations, but that could not be said about the rest of the building. A part of it was covered with graffiti (or was it a mural advertising something?). There was a mention of batik and there were also caricature-like figures usually associated with Javanese puppetry (See Photo). The part of the building to the west seemed to have electronics shop, which had put up its billboards to cover more than half of the façade of the building. The blue shade of the paint on the upper part of it seemed to stand out as aesthetically unappealing. The building was probably owned in sections by various owners, who were free to do to their part of the building what they wanted. A beautiful building had been marred by people who did not care about their architectural heritage. What was even worse, the city administration didn't seem to care.
If you walk along the path on the southern side of Jl Slamet Riyadi you pass by a Museum (Radya Pustaka) and an amusement park (Taman Sriwedari), which were closed by the time I got there. At the top of the entrance there was the head of a demon, who was supposed to keep the evil spirits away. This kind of figure is often found at the entrance to Hindu temples. Inside the entrance, there was a golden statue of King Rama, the hero of the Hindu epic, Ramayana, and his queen, Sita, who was standing on his knee, while he held her hand and looked into her eyes amorously. It was an untraditional pose but it is done tastefully. On the outside wall there was a series of niches, each one bearing a statue of a figure from one of the Hindu epics. Rama, his brother Lakshmana, his queen Sita are characters from Ramayana (See Photo). There were statues of some characters from Mahabharata as well. These representations of characters from the scriptures of the Hindus are not the archaeological relics of the Hindu past of Java but are recent creations by the artists who obviously enjoy the freedom of creating the kind of art that is shunned in most other Muslim states where breaking of the idols of the non-believers is considered a pious act. Since the representation of Islamic heroes in sculpture or painting on public buildings is frowned upon by the Muslim clerics, the artists, who want to continue practising their art, have this rare opportunity to continue their link to their traditional culture. I can only hope that this kind of tolerance will continue to prevail in the future.
There are cobbled walkways on both sides of Jl Slamet Riyadi. They are shaded over by trees, bushes and climbers. The Javanese people love to eat out but not everyone can afford to go to a restaurant to eat. The walkways are punctuated with little carts that prepare and serve food that the average person in Solo can afford. Bicycle and motorbike riders park their vehicles and buy a freshly cooked meal from the vendor and then they find a place where they can sit and enjoy their meal. The vendors had spread mats for their customers to squat on.
Further on, as you continue walking on the southern side of Jl Riyadi, you come to the shopping mall, called appropriately the Solo Grand Mall. It is a spick and span modern shopping mall with stores selling fashionable stuff. It also has restaurants. Here is Pizza Hut and also KFC for those who want to enjoy a meal at one of the outlets of a western chain of restaurants.
Among the arts that have become traditional in Java is the art of cloth painting called batik. It uses a special technique of applying a dye selectively to the cloth by covering the rest of it with wax. Cloth painting is said to have been brought over to the East Indies from India over a thousand years ago and developed further in Java using its own special technique. The art flourished because of the desire of the royal families to bedeck themselves with beautiful fabrics. Because of the traditional rivalry between the sultans of Jogja and Solo, both cities tried to outdo each other in perfecting this art. The rivalry enabled the art of batik to flourish. The rivlry has continued into the present and either city claims to have better quality batik fabrics than the other. Since the art of batik is so important to Solo, there are several craftsmen working on it in various factories and there are a number of outlets spread across the city which claim to be the best in Solo. There is a market at the eastern end of Jl Riyadi where there are a number of stores selling batik. There is a place at the western end near the Purwosari Station specializing in the production and sale of batik (See Photo).
The Javanese people have kept up their interest in many of the traditional arts, like dancing. In Taman Sriwedari, I saw a group of little girls practising the traditional dance under the guidance of a teacher, who taught them the art of wiggling their fingers, hands and heads. One of the arts that have been given special attention in Java is called Wayang or puppetry. Dramatic performances, traditionally based on stories from the Hindu epics, have been performed in Java for centuries now. Wayang has given rise to a special school of painting. The figures in these paintings resemble the figures that have traditionally been used in Wayang performances. I found such a painting adorning the top of a restaurant on Jl Riyadi (See Photo).
It was only on the following day that I was able to visit the Pura Managkunarang Mueseum, which was a part of the palace of the royal family. Among the artifacts on display were coins, ornaments, among them covers for genitals worn during ceremonial meditation that could last several days, and above all works of art. Besides the sculpted furniture, there were paintings, one of the king himself and another one showing the Hindu ancestors of the Javanese people going to a temple. The artifacts that I found exceptionally beautiful were the stained glass windows and placed just before it an intricately carved ivory tusk (See photo).
- Arts and Culture
- Castles and Palaces
Visit this exotic resort
Solo City Info, Solo city tourism
Wow ... really interesting look at one resort located on the border of the tourist sites Tawangmangu Karanganyar with Sarangan tourist sites. But until now, I do not know anyone who has ever lived there.
I actually doubt that the resort as a place to stay but for strange rituals. A person who I asked about the resort was also confirmed that in fact the great officials who often "stay" to perform rituals involving the position, wealth, power and often crowded ahead of regional elections.
wow, ... please believe it or not but that's the facts.
I prefer it actually resorts to be a place to stay. And very rarely resorts to place under the bridge. Unique once ... hopefully no one litter so that litter the resort's roof.
Therefore, let us support it resorts to the real tourist area and used to stay while enjoying the surrounding scenery is quite interesting.
- Business Travel
- Spa and Resort
- Family Travel
Prambanan greet us in few handsome dark and tall structures. The view of Prambanan in its surrounding area gave this structures a majestic and awesome sight. The recent earthquake has done a fair bit of damage to this 9th century wonder. It was fenced all around the temples complex for restoration. Closely looking at this beautiful structure and its façade decorated by intricate ornates carvings to the very inch.
- Historical Travel
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
This is the biggest market that sell batik... From baby to adult, from boy to girl, from man to woman, you can almost find all type of batik in this market...
Hundreds of shop jammed within a building with narrow passageways and you must know how and goo to bargain... Check the prices from a few shop before you deside to get one!!
Oh No!! I dont even have take any pic for Pasar Klewer!! :(
See, Alvin get this one from a shopping mall in Solo, it is nice... Ya! Ya! Alvin claimed that he is handsome too!!
The 1st place that we visited is the Pasar Gede... It is the biggest traditional market in Solo... you must try this sweet dessert (Less than US$0.30)... It has a mixure of coconut, sweet potato,... together with the coconut sugar... Yummy!!
Triwindu market is an antique market within walking distance from Novotel Hotel in Solo. You can see and/or buy lot of Javanese's handycrafts, they are unique and old but just be careful and do you not want to get the replicas...
You will like this place... as I do! :)
The monument is both a shrine to the Lord Buddha and a place for Buddhist pilgrimage. The journey for pilgrims begins at the base of the monument and follows a path circumambulating the monument while ascending to the top through the three levels of Buddhist cosmology, namely, Kamadhatu (the world of desire); Rupadhatu (the world of forms); and Arupadhatu (the world of formless). During the journey, the monument guides the pilgrims through a system of stairways and corridors with 1,460 narrative relief panels on the wall and the balustrades.
Mount Merapi, Gunung Merapi in Indonesian language, is a conical volcano located on the border between Central Java and Yogyakarta, Indonesia. It is the most active volcano in Indonesia and has erupted regularly since 1548. Its name means Mountain of Fire. It is very close to the city of Yogyakarta, and thousands of people live on the flanks of the volcano, with villages as high as 1700 m above sea level.
Several of its eruptions have caused fatalities. It was erupting from 1992 to 2002, and a particularly large explosion killed 43 people in 1994. It began erupting again in 2006, and scientists believe a large eruption is imminent. In light of the hazards it poses to populated areas, it has been designated a Decade Volcano... and we were there!!
Intriguing Candi Sukuh, and more
Why add to the tips on Candi Sukuh and Candi Ceto? Because it is a pity the average tourist does not go to the trouble to visit these temples. They are quite different from the mainstream destinations Borobudur and Prambanan. No tourist crowds, no rows of souvenir sellers and superfluous guides. On public holidays you may have the company of some local sightsee-ers, but not very many. The buildings are not as impressive as Borobudur, but the more intriguing. And the trip over there alone, through winding steep mountain roads with terrific views, is worth your time.
Both Hindu temples were built in the 15th century, when the Majapahit empire was crumbling and Islam conquering the coastal areas of Java. Candi Sukuh stands at an altitude of 910 m, overlooking the Solo plain. It is said to be dedicated to Bima, the warrior god of Mahabaratha epos. A headless Bima statue and a stylised womb depicting Bima’s birth may prove this. But the temple must have served other purposes, which can only be guessed. Many elements are not purely Hindu, but point to a revival of a pre-Hindu animistic cult.
When going to see the temples leave early and make it a full day trip. Entrance fee to Candi Sukuh for foreigners is Rp. 10,000 payable at an office at the other side of the road. Residents pay only Rp 2,500. A weathered panel explains the salient features of the temple in Indonesian and in 'Indonesian English'.
Near the parking space is a sign pointing to another temple, candi Planggatan. The 2 km mountain road to this site in Tambak village is breathtaking. But of the temple itself only some stone rubble remains.
More details in our travelogue Candi Sukuh.
- Arts and Culture
- Hiking and Walking
Candi Ceto, the beautiful temple in the sky
On the slopes of Mount Lawu, rests a 700 year old Hindu temple 1470m above sea level.There are few visitors to this place as the journey here was dangerous. No guide book will mention the perilous but beautiful journey through mist-covered tea fields, deep yawning valleys and terrifying hair-pin turns. Guess there are few tourists who are willing to risk the thousand metre drop. But once you're there, you'll forget the peril you went through. The temple, hewn out of darkened stone,was beautiful and it overlooked the gorgeous green valley below. Every once in a while, a cloud blows over the temple and you'll think for a while that you're in a temple in the sky.
Where: 1470m above sea level, Mount Lawu, Java, Indonesia.
How I got there: On a rickety ojek(motorcycle) which broke down several times on the journey from Solo to the mountain. The trip was arranged by Warung Baru guesthouse.
If you have a thing for palaces and musty art and historical collections, do pop down to Kasunanan Kraton. Of the two palaces over here in Solo, Kasunanan Kraton is more worth a visit as the other Kraton ( Kraton Mangkunegaran) is in a sad state of disrepair. If you're here in the former royal residence of King Pakubuwono in the 17th century, do look out for this enormous rice pot, an enormous barge with an equally enormous oar and the octogonal tower called Panggung Songgobuwono where the king is rumoured to meet the Goddess of the South Seas during the anniversary of his coronation. I wonder if they exchanged cell phone numbers during the exchange. But no matter, the tower was festooned with bamboo poles when I was there as it was in the process of being restored.
Admission is 2,500 Rupiah (0.28 USD), which includes a guide.