Located some 40 kilometers northwest of the city of Yogyakarta and about 75 kilometers south of Semarang, the capital city of Central Java Province, is the Magelang Regency, which is best known as the launching pad for a visit to the magnificent Borobudur Temple. It is less known that surrounding the breathtaking beauty of Borobudur, Magelang is, in fact, a regency filled with a whole range of fascinating splendor that promises the perfect vacation experience.
Situated between Mount Merbabu and Mount Sumbing and coursed by the meandering streams of the Progo and Elo Rivers, Magelang is blessed with picturesque natural surroundings, perfect for those who wish to breathe in Central Java’s greener side.
The earliest known records of Magelang city date back to the year 907, when it was established as a village under the Old Mataram Kingdom. Further down in history, Magelang once was made into a military post by the Dutch East Indies colonial government. Among remnants of this era is the 1918 Water Tower that still stands to this very day. The regency later acted as an army stronghold for Indonesia’s pro-independence movement against the Dutch during the resistance period. Currently, it is host to two military landmarks: The Indonesian National Military Academy, and the military-associated school, Taruna Nusantara.
What to See and Do in Magelang
The Magnificent Borobudur Temple, a UNESCO inscribed World Heritage site, and pride of Indonesia, is definitely the ultimate attraction in Magelang. Sitting majestically on a hilltop overlooking lush green fields and distant hills, the Borobudur temple is acknowledged as the world’s largest Buddhist monument, an ancient site widely considered as one of the world’s seven wonders. Since it is located near Yogyakarta, most people do not realize that the temple is actually located in the Magelang Regency, which is part of the Central Java Province and not in the province of Yogyakarta.
Not too far from the Borobudur Temple, – for those who are looking for some adrenalin pumping actions – should try the splashing sensation of Rafting down the Elo and Progo Rivers, in the Mungkid Area. The rafting adventure at Elo River will take you about 12 km downstream, or roughly 3 hours. The raft falls in the grade II-III category, suitable for beginners and intermediate level rafters. But those looking for more challenging rides should head to the Progo River, which is in the Grade III + difficulty, covering about 15 km of river length. The two rivers not only offer a challenging journey, but also beautiful natural scenery along the rafting course.
For the most spectacular natural panorama, you should take the Ketep Pass and immerse yourself in one of the best views of Mount Merapi from a comfortable distance. Located some 32 km off Magelang city center, the Ketep Pass is located on a shoulder, bridging Mount Merapi with Mt.Merbabu, and is located on the summit of the Sawangan Mountain, about 1,200 meters above sea level.
Here you can also check out the Ketep Volcano Theater which plays a documentary on Merapi’s volcanic activities over the years, or the Ketep Volcano Center which documents volcanic facts and samples of rocks from Merapi’s recent eruptions. From the highest viewing point on Ketep Pass, stand amazed by the spectacular sweeping view of five surrounding mountains: the Merapi, Merbabu, Sindoro, Sumbing, and Slamet.
While you are in the city of Magelang, do not miss the OHD Museum at Jalan Jenggolo Street, which presents a unique realm of contemporary and modern art. The OHD Museum is a private museum on modern and contemporary Indonesian art, founded and owned by one of the most renowned art collectors in Indonesia, Dr. Oei Hong Djien (OHD), who started his collection in the 1970s. Currently, with Dr. Oei’s collection of more than 2,000 artworks, ranging from paintings, sculptures, installations and new media art,the OHD Museum provides a collection that represents the essence of modern and contemporary Indonesian art. From time to time the museum exhibits specific artists show. The museum is said to also keep paintings by Indonesia’s maestro painters Affandi and Abdullah, but these are not publicly displayed yet can be viewed upon request.
Image by prmdy
If you are looking for a refreshing ambiance amidst nature, head down to the Sekar Langit Waterfall on the foot of Mount Telomoyo, in the Grabage sub-district of Magelang, about 30 minutes away from downtown Magelang city. Here you can enjoy the gurgling sound of the falls, inhale cool refreshing air and the lush green surroundings that together make this the perfect getaway from the humdrum of daily life.
The waterfall is believed to be the site of the well known Javanese folktale of Jaka Tarub which tells the story of seven beautiful angels who came down to earth from heaven. In these falls they decided to take a bath and splashed around the waterfall. The story has it that a local villager by the name of Jaka Tarub snatched the attire of one of the angels while she was bathing, thereby forcing her to stay on earth and eventually marry him.
Another heritage site of Magelang is Candi Umbul or Umbul Temple which is an ancient hot spring bathing pool believed to have been built around the 9th century. A number of stone ruins around the pool depict various reliefs of plants, animals, as well as the Stupa of the Borobudur Temple. The pool is filled with water from a nearby spring and is still used for bathing, to this very day.
So, when you are on holiday in Yogya or Semarang, why not spend some time in Magelang and bathe in its enticing natural beauty.