Friday, October 11, 2013

Indonesian Heritage Sites

More than three decades have passed since Unesco first listed cultural and natural heritage sites of special significance. In 2012, with almost 1,000 places on the list, it has become one of the reasons why people travel to faraway lands.
Indonesia is home to eight such Unesco sites. These range from natural beauty in the wilds of Sumatra to the magnificent Borobudur temple on Java. Here’s our guide to all eight:
Borobudur Compound (1991)
This temple is one of the the largest Buddhist monuments in the world. With more than two million blocks of carved volcanic stone and a beautiful line of five active volcanoes, the serenity and history make it a truly memorable place to visit.
Prambanan Compound (1991)
Adorned with lavish and suggestive decorations, this Hindu monument — a complex of 240 temples and was built in the eighth century, during the heyday of  the powerful Sailendra dynasty in Java — is said to be the largest outside India.
The compound has an open-air theater in which more than 200 dancers perform the great Hindu epic “Ramayana” every other night. The performance, set against the starry sky and a great bonfire with Prambanan as the backdrop, is definitely spell-binding.
Komodo National Park (1991)
More than five thousand giant lizards, whose appearance and aggressive behavior have led us to call them Komodo dragons, live in Padar, Komodo and Rinca, the three big islands that make up the Komodo National Park.
The living fossils might be the main attraction here, but the national park has more to offer. The dry hillsides of the savannah and pockets of green vegetation offer great vistas, while the white and pink sandy beaches and natural corals will take your breath away.
Ujung Kulon National Park (1991)
Home to Krakatau — famous for a catastrophic eruption in 1883 — the Ujung Kulon National Park’s beauty remains preserved. Located on the south-western tip of Java, the park boasts several offshore islands with unspoiled beaches, stretched towards the Indian Ocean.
Sangiran Excavation Site (1996)
Outside the charming city of Solo in Central Java lies one of the most important sites in the history of human evolution. Excavations at this site, led by German archeologist G.H.R. von Königswald from 1936 to 1941, uncovered the first known hominid fossils. In the following years, excavations discovered fossil believed to belong to the first human ancestors, Pithecanthropus erectus (“Java Man.”)
Lorentz National Park (1999)
Slightly smaller than the US state of Oregon, Lorentz National Park is located at the eastern tip of the archipelago. From the eternal snow on of the world’s seven highest summits to exceptional tropical marine environments to extensive lowland wetlands, the park offers striking contrasts that are perfect for adventurers.
Distinctive, indigenous cultures such as the Amungme, West Dani and Komorohave have their roots in the region.
Tropical Rainforest of Sumatra (2004)
Sumatran tigers, Sumatran elephants and Sumatran orangutans are among the many inhabitants of this site, which comprises three national parks: Gunung Leuser, Kerinci Seblat and Bukit Barisan Selatan, which together are home to an estimated 10,000 species of plants, more than 200 species of mammals, and some 600 species of birds, of which 465 are resident and 21 are endemic.
The Subak System: Cultural Landscape of Bali (2012)
Recently named a world cultural heritage site, the Subak reflects the philosophy of Tri Hita Karana, which brings together the realms of spirit, human and nature. A water temple sits at the center of the site, and a priest is in charge of dividing the water. The democratic farming practices here have enabled the Balinese to become the most effective rice growers in the archipelago. (Jakarta Globe)

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