Visiting Tangkuban Perahu-A Legendary Upturned Boat in West Java.
West Java has several attractions which invite people to come and, believe it or not, one of famous magnets in this populated province is active volcanoes which are spread in many areas of the province. One of must-see active volcanoes in West Java is Tangkuban Perahu, a mountain surrounded by tea plantations and tropical forests which grow in steep mountainous areas. So, besides Tangkuban Perahu as the main destination, we also enjoy the scenic views along the road to Tangkuban Perahu.
Tangkuban Perahu is a sundanese name means Upturned Boat. The name takes the shape of the mountain which looks like an upturned mountain from the distance.
West Java or Java island in general is very rich in legends. The legends have become folklore and passed on from generation to generation. Mothers like to lullaby their children with those stories and will bring the imagination into their children's dreams. A famous legend which is anchored to sundanese life is about Dayang Sumbi and Sangkuriang. The legend about Dayang Sumbi and Sangkuriang has adorned scientific explanation of Tangkuban Perahu formation.
The formation of Tangkuban Perahu.
Tangkuban Perahu is an active volcano which the last eruptions took place on 28 February 2013. The eruption caused the closure of the tourist destination for several days and luckily didn't take any victims.
Tangkuban Perahu formation dated back to the ancient mount Sunda which erupted 190,000 years ago and formed 6x8 km caldera. Besides the Tangkuban Perahu, the eruptions also created two other mountains respectively called Mounts Burangrang and Bukit Tunggul today.
The active volcano sits in 2084m above sea level and overlooking the West Java capital city, Bandung. Three calderas were formed and still exist until now as the result of the formation thousand years ago. Those calderas are called Ratu, Upas, and Domas craters.
Ratu (Queen) Crater.
Ratu is the biggest among those three existing craters. This is the first conspicuously seen when we just arrive at Tangkuban Perahu area after driving up the winding road just after we bought tickets at the entrance gate. There is a concrete fence took the shape of tree trunks circling the rim of Ratu crater to protect visitors from falling down the crater.
We can see the floor and the walls of the crater with yellowish grey sand and water at the bottom indicating the high sulfur content in it and smokes billowing up signaling high temperature of magma down inside the active crater. Visitors are not allowed to go down considering the danger of poisonous gas which might be suddenly emitted by the crater.
The next crater we can find when we go up after Ratu is Domas crater. Visitors often miss this crater due to lack of information about this crater. Domas crater can be reached on foot for about 30 minutes. Domas is the friendly, welcoming crater since we can see the crater up close and personal here. We can hear the sizzling hot spring with the smell of sulfur all over the place. People try the natural phenomena by cooking some eggs in the boiling water or just take pictures with yellowish-sufured rocks and pebbles and spewing smokes as the background.
People need to make some efforts to go down to Upas crater since they have to walk down the sandy crater rim in order not to be slipped to be able to see the crater. This cautious track makes many visitors reluctant to come closer to this crater.
The Sundanese legend behind Tangkuban Perahu.
The legend of Sangkuriang is very popular and has become part of the Sundanese cultural heritage since this legend contains history of the formation of Bandung, the capital city of West Java, Mt. Bukit Tunggul, Mt. Burangrang, and Mt. Tangkuban Perahu itself which are all located in Parahiyangan Land (another name of West Java). What makes it more interesting that the legend and the geological facts of the areas are in good synchronization. The legend is recorded in Bujangga Manik manuscript which was written on lontar (some kind of palm leaf) in the late of 15th century.
Dayang Sumbi - Sangkuriang.
Once upon a time there was a princess named Dayang Sumbi who was the daughter of the king Sungging Purbangkara. The princess grew into a very beautiful, smart girl and her beauty gained popularity and admiration from kings from other kingdoms and they all tried to win Dayang Sumbi's affections and marry her.
All of those proposals were fruitless. They were rejected and got angry and it resulted in wars among them.
Knowing this chaotic situation, Dayang Sumbi decided to withdraw herself from the palace life and had a seclusion life accompanied by a male dog named Tumang. Tumang was actually a personification of a god who was cursed so that they changed its appearance into a dog. When the night with full moon came, Tumang would change himself into its original form, a handsome gentleman of a god. Being committed to her pledge, and without her parents' consent, Dayang Sumbi married to Tumang.
Dayang Sumbi's decision to take Tumang as her husband made the king very angry. The king said that a dog is a dog and it shouldn't had marry to her princess. The furious king gave punishment and sent both of them in exile to the forest.
One night in her seclusion, Dayang Sumbi had an unusual dream. She made love with Tumang in that dream and it made her pregnant. After nine months of pregnancy, Dayang Sumbi eventually delivered a baby boy and she gave the baby a name : Sangkuriang. .
Sangkuriang grew into a strong, handsome man. He was good at hunting and made her mother very proud of him.
One day Dayang Sumbi wanted to have some venison for her meals and she asked Sangkuriang if he could get it. Being an obedient child Sangkuriang always willingly together with Tumang went deep into the forest right away for a deer hunting. His observation had taken for hours but no deer showed up. With Tumang loyally around, he tried to be patient for another couple of hours to wait but still no deer appeared.
To their surprise, instead of the expected deer, a fat boar suddenly ran across. Sangkuriang didn't want to go home empty-handed and let her mother down, so he ordered Tumang to run after the boar to catch it but Tumang refused to do so. The dog's sixth sense said that it was not a common boar but a reincarnated boar of Sangkuriang's late grandmother, Wayung Hyang, that was the reason why he refused his master's order.
Sangkuriang got angry for Tumang's disobedience then he put an arrow on the bow, pull it and pointed it at Tumang, threatening to shoot him death. Sangkuriang didn't mean it seriously , he just wanted to show Tumang a pretend threat, but anger had made him out of control, he slipped his hand and the arrow accidentally released and killed Tumang, his biological father.
Sangkuriang felt deeply regretful and overwhelmed all at the same time. He blamed himself for killing Tuma and was afraid of his mother's reaction when she found out what had happened. To please Dayang Sumbi, his mother, he took out Tuma's heart to be given to her and said that it was the deer liver she ordered.
Sangkuriang couldn't keep the secret for ever because Dayang Sumbi finally find out that the liver Sangkuriang gave her was not a deer but it was Tumang's liver and that was more than enough for Dayang Sumbi to make a frantic reaction. She gave Sangkuriang a hard knock on the head with a coconut shell water dipper (it is a traditional kitchen utensil used until now). Sangkuriang got afraid to death and with his injured head he fled his mother all alone.
A mother's love never lasts and that also described Dayang Sumbi's love for Sangkuriang. She felt sorry for having hurt her only child and his not being around had left her in sorrow. She missed him and wanted him to come back although that ended up in only a wish since Sangkuriang had gone far.
In her deep sadness, Dayang Sumbi decided to go for a meditation, she chanted prayers to God begging her son to come back. She only ate raw vegetables in her meditation and that consumption had given her another benefit : it kept her stay young and beautiful.
While for Sangkuriang, his vagabond life had formed his character to be strong while some educations he attended also made him a smart youth with capability in supranatural power. In his wandering to the east, Sangkuriang came across a young, very beautiful girl that he couldn't stand not fall in love with. He proposed her to marry him and the girl also showed the same interest to the young, handsome man. The couple, Sangkuriang and Dayang Sumbi didn't realize that they were actually mother and son and that they mustn't have fallen in love to each other.
Dayang Sumbi had accepted Sangkuriang's proposal and willing to marry him. When those in-love pair got in more intimate relationship, Dayang Sumbi eventually found that the man she fell in love with was actually Sangkuriang, her own blood and flesh son. She knew he was Sangkriang after she spotted a scar, a mark she left when she hit him hard with a coconut shell dipper on his scalp. This finding had surprised her like a thunder !. She had never dreamt of marrying her own son but she had already given her promise to marry him...She had to think how to find the way to cancel her forbidden love...
When Dayang Sumbi had gained her composure, and didn't want to make her alluding rejection known nor upsetting Sangkuriang, she told Sangkuriang she still kept her words to marry him with some conditions that he had to fulfill :
Sangkuriang had to build her a lake and a ship in just one night. He had to dam Citarum river to make the lake.
Being confident with his supernatural power, Sangkuriang promised to complete the required conditions in time.
With the assistance of the spirits, Sangkuriang began to work on the projects. The spirits work hand in hand without any recess and harmoniously like an orchestra under the coordination of Sangkuriang.
On the other hand, Dayang Sumbi chanted prayers, asking God for the project to flop since that was the only to thwart Sangkuriang plan to marry her. But nothing seemed to be able to stop Sangkuriang's struggle and that made Dayang Sumbi worried more and more.....
When the night had only a few more hours before dawn and Sangkuriang was getting closer to the completion of his project, she suddenly got an idea : She spread a long white fabric she weaved by herself during her seclusion in the east horizon and that caused some moon lights to be reflected which the spirits took it as the coming of the dawn ....
The spirits stop working and left the project unfinished with Sangkurinang cried long begging them not to stop. He cried out loud that the dawn was still some hours to come again and again, but the spirits were too scared to work on.
Knowing it was all Dayang Sumbi's sly trick to ruin his effort, Sangkuriang got very very mad He kicked out the almost-done ship into upturned position and the mountain ashes covered up the ship and gradually became a mount which bears a famous name until today : Tangkuban Perahu.
Tangkubang Perahu is not only about Triple Craters.
Tangkuban Perahu is not only about triple craters : Ratu, Domas, and Upas. When people visit Tangkuban Perahu they can enjoy other attractions like tasting out local foods sold at various stalls there, ranging from grilled sweet corn, Gado-gado (vegetable salads in coconut dressing), Grilled sticky rice, drink bajigur (gingered traditional drink) and many more.
You can also witness how talented local people show their craftmanship making various souvenirs and crafts which you can buy and bring home as original present from Tangkuban Perahu.