The Flower City

by Jyotsna Ramani

Conveniently located between three volcanic mountains, the exquisite atmosphere of Bandung acts like a magnet to visitors from not only Indonesia, but from  all corners of the world.

The question remains as to why hordes of tourists flock to this soothing destination year after year, referred to as “Paris van Java”, though usually for a quick stopover before heading off to explore more popular parts of the country.

If ever you wish to get away from the hustle and bustle and the headaches of everyday life, then Bandung is the ideal choice. The food, for example, is delicious, shopping very affordable and the attractions never ending. There is a very popular saying that Bandung never allows anyone to leave empty handed.

The food in Bandung is not only tasty but inexpensive and extensive as well. To enjoy the experience of a real original Indonesian cuisine, in a serene and comfortable setting this is the only place in the country to savour.

From the bamboo huts of Kampung Daun with the waterfalls and streams to the floating market of Lembang, the culinary delights of Bandung need to be experienced. There is a place known as Paskal food market, where there are more than one thousand delights on offer at any given time. Located on Pasir Kaliki road, this is a very popular choice of all locals and tourists.

Bandung and the surrounding hills offer many interesting hiking trails. The ideal year round temperature adds to the comfort level of the visitor. From short walks to multi day hikes Bandung is a true trekking destination. There are some extremely scenic routes over fields and untamed rugged terrain.

The Mount Tangkuban Perahu hiking trail, is perhaps the most popular walk along the majestic plateaus of the region. Though  the normal way is through paved roads, there are alternative and enterprising routes through the mountains which are not only rewarding but offer a soothing thermal springs bath as well. Tangkuban  Perahu is situated 25km from Bandung,via Lembang in Sagalaherang village. Camping options are available for those willing to pitch a tent.

There is another well laid hiking track, which can really be enjoyed, in the Dago Pakar area. Mount Pakar is the highest point in this area which can be truly enjoyed by walking on the well laid out tracks.

The historical site of the Dutch and Japanese man made caves of the World War II era are worth visiting. Another popular destination is  the beautiful waterfalls of Curug Ciomas and Maribaya along the 4 km trek from gate number four through lovely pine forests.

Tebing Keraton, also known as the jutting rock,is a popular cliff located in the Juanda forest area. The place affords great views of the city of Bandung. The sunrise is the best time to visit this place to view the mist covered mountains and view the silhouette of Mount Tangkuban. Another popular place  is Gunung Batu, or the mountain of the dead stone.

This is so called because the stoñe resembles a human corpse. Gunung Batu is located south of Lembang, which in itself is a few kilometers away from Bandung, albeit at an increased elevation. The best place to visit for a short day hike, this off beat locale is devoid of the large tourist hordes.

The trek passes through paddy fields to the base of the mountain. Once you have traversed the tricky path to the top,coming down from the other side is a nice easy walk.

Bandung, also known as the flower city, has plenty of attractions for every visitor. The cool climate, the culinary offerings and the unimaginable experience the city has to offer makes Bandung the ultimate universal travel destination. The colours and landscape of Kawah Putih, makes the place beautiful and surreal.

The lake in this dormant volcano changes colour with the levels of concentration of the soil. Kawah Putih is easily accessible by road and one can drive right up to the crater rim, from where the lake itself is a brief 100m walk. For the more adventurous ones, this is a good place to camp and take in the panoramic scenery of the place.

Nestled between three mountain ranges, the city of Bandung enjoys a climate like no other. Due to its topography, the weather remains cool throughout the year, unlike other cities in Indonesia. The average temperature hovers around 23 degrees C, making it a favourite weekend haunt for locals and visitors from nearby cities. The city is situated on a plateau roughly 768 m above sea level, surrounded by the beautiful Parahyangan mountains.

In colonial times, the city of Bandung came to be known as ‘Paris van Java’, especially because of the European ambiance and the similarities to Paris. The city, to date, still retains the charm and vibrancy with the rich Tropical Deco architecture on display.

The leading universities are based here as are the art and cultural centres. In fact Bandung can be termed as an art lovers dream, with amazing installations of art in the NuArt sculpture park. This three hectare park was established in 2000 and is the brainchild of Nyoman Nuarta, the most famous sculptor of Indonesia. Filled with brass,copper and steel artifacts, the park showcases some of the best products of the famous man.

Inscribed on the UNESCO heritage list, the Angklung, a traditional bamboo musical instrument, plays an important role in the preservation of Sundanese art and culture. The sight and sounds of Saung Angklung Udjo, a series of interesting daily  performances, are seen to be believed. Established in 1966, Saung Angklung Udjo was created to conserve the art and culture of West Java, and eventually earn great respect worldwide.

The Asian -African conference museum, the venue of the first meet in 1955, is now recognised as a historic building and an inspiration to the world at what could be achieved by peaceful means. The museum houses collection of paintings. photographs and other memroblia from the conference and is a epitome of present day Indonesian culture.