Seeing Bogor, which is no longer cool, chaotic here and there with its angkots, I can’t believe that this city in the colonial era had been a prima donna for European travelers!
Call it Scidmore, the traveler from England who is written in Buitenzorg : The most beautiful city in Java — a travel log from 1860-1930 written by Ahmad Baehaqie — mentions Bogor like this, “Deep down below us lay a valley of eden.”
What do you mean by Eden for angkot? Haha.
However, although this city at the foot of Mount Salak is currently difficult to look like as described by Scidmore, there are still other pieces of the story that we can witness the remains of. This valley is one witness to the traces of the life of various nations and tribes. European, Sundanese, Javanese, Arabic, and including traces of the dragon: Chinese
That morning the sun was not visible, the Lunar New Year, the day the Chinese people hoped for rain came true. The plan is, we will tour around the remnants of the Buitenzorg era which are still imprinted around Bogor. We chose to walk, because the distance traveled was not too far. The plan is that we will also pass through small alleys that can only be passed by stepping.
After all, we don’t want to be stuck in traffic jams and chaos that makes the soul sick.
Along the way Ir. H Juanda Bogor, we can see colonial buildings such as the Zoological Museum, Hoofdkantoor van Het Boswezen te Buitenzorg (now the office of the Ministry of Forestry) which was built in 1912, and several other old buildings.
The dragon’s breath just felt when I entered Surya Kencana Street which is opposite the entrance to the Botanical Gardens. On this road we met several historical locations such as the Vihara Hok Tek Bio or known as Vihara Dhanagun. Its location close to the market is indeed influenced by the Chinese ethnic who likes to trade.
From the nameplate located in front of the Vihara, Hok Tek Bio means abundance of fortune and virtue. While Dhanagun means the nature of charity and virtue.
According to our guide, actually Vihara and Klenteng are different places. Vihara, as many people know is a place of worship for Buddhists. Meanwhile, Klenteng, or Bio, is a place of worship for Chinese people who worship Chinese gods.
Since ancient times, Chinese beliefs have been influenced by three teachings; Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddha. However, we know for ourselves that during the New Order era, teachings that smelled like Chinese could not move freely. Thus, only Buddhism — teachings from India — is recognized by the government.
Since then, the pagoda has changed its name to Vihara so that they can continue to worship.
What is unique is that at this temple I found a sculptural painting of the legend of the ‘sakti monkey’. When I was a child, I remember this magic monkey series accompanying a monk to take the holy book to the west. It turns out that Sun Go kong is one of the figures in the teachings of Taoism.
Once satisfied to see the various Chinese New Year ornaments in the monastery, such as candles as wide as telephone poles on the street, I went outside; for fear of disturbing their time of worship. A moment later we arrived at the Bogor market. There are many rows of shop houses decorated with wood and stained glass. He was clearly over a hundred years old. Unfortunately it looks unkempt.
The rain is getting heavier. We continued our journey through muddy markets, and finally arrived at the back of the market. There, there are former buildings of the Chinese Captain and Hotel Passar Baroe which looks sad. They are covered in bushes; muddy; many streaks of vandalism; cattle pen; next to the garbage dump; pools smell fishy, rancid, plus the smell of beef, chicken, and fish mixed in front of this historic building.
Luckily it wasn’t destroyed.
“In the past, from behind the glass on the second floor of this hotel we could see Mount Salak, Gede, and Pangrango side by side,” said our guide. However, it looks like that can no longer be done. Because this hotel is already fragile and rundown; standing behind the market near the trash can; was blocked by new tall buildings.
I had to undo the intention of enjoying the nostalgia of European tourists in Buitenzorg.
I was still walking, away to the east from Bogor market, towards Babakan market. After crossing the bridge that connects the city of Bogor and an island, I arrived at Pulo Geulis.
Yes, an island.
The island, which was formed by the ciliwung delta, also has a historic site: the Maharahma Vihara (Pan Kho Bio), which was built in 1619. It’s so old! This is the oldest place of worship for the Bogor Chinese community.
In this monastery a bit hodgepodge. There are Hindu statues, a statue of Kwang Im, a stone petilasan of Prabu Surya Kencana, several Hindu statues, and a prayer room….
According to the temple keeper, this monastery is not only a place of worship for Buddhists, Confucians, and Taoists. This place is also commonly visited by Sunda Wiwitan, Hindu and Muslim pilgrims. Its long life allows this building to store many stories.
He also said that sometimes Muslim recitations are held here. Because the hall is large enough for a meeting that can accommodate many people.
There is one type of silat similar to kung fu that developed from Bogor, namely the White Stork Body Movement Association (GDP White Stork). We stopped there for a while.
What’s interesting about the White Stork’s GDP is that they are more popular abroad than at home. Several Canadian students were seen studying there. “It’s possible that later if we want to learn the white crane martial arts, we have to go abroad,” said one of the teachers there, laughing.
Several lion dances are in the white stork’s practice room. Because they also often display the art of lion dance during big events such as Chinese New Year and cap go meh. However, there is one lion dance that is different: Kie Lin’s name. It has a pair of forked horns like a deer’s, scales like a fish, and eyes like those of a crab. Kie Lin is known as the mount of a god. “Kie Lin there is only this one in Indonesia,” he said again.
After being satisfied with hearing the story of the white stork, we went to the last stop, Vihara Dharmakaya, a pagoda which is more like a castle because there is a tower with European architecture. Unfortunately we were not allowed to enter by the temple guards.
Judging from the traces, it is not surprising that along Jalan Suryakencana to Jalan Siliwangi, Bogor, many ethnic Chinese live. Perhaps because many Chinese who emigrated to Indonesia made a living as traders, their existence originated from the existence of a market. Then after many settled around the market place of worship was built, so that many of them live not far from the two places and have become Chinatowns to this day.
Once in a while being a tourist and learning history in your own city can be fun.
Do you have photos of the Chinese New Year? Let’s take part in the Enchantment of Indonesia photo contest with the Wonderful Chinese New Year theme and win free airline tickets and various other prizes!
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