A Study Tour to Banten

One fine Sunday morning, a bunch of us from the Indonesian Heritage Society set out to nearby Banten for a tour. This is part of our Forts, Ports and Palaces study group, which is as fun as its name.

Banten is about an hour’s drive from Jakarta, and in its heyday, was one of the reasons for the Dutch supremacy in the archipelago. According to one account, when the Mataram empire wanted to fight the Dutch in Batavia (now Jakarta) to gain control of Java, Banten, their rival, did not support them, and the Dutch won that battle, and eventually over generations succeeded in establishing themselves all over. During that period, Banten lost its own shine, and is now not even a shadow of its old self, as even the palaces have been long destroyed, leaving almost nothing off their heritage structures. Yeah, I’ve been studying.

There’s a tiny but interesting museum that shows some of the town’s former glory, primarily their water pipeline system (in pictures only) that would filter water from the reservoir and reach the palace in purified form. They also have a few remnants from the palace structure

Banten Banten

The karaton or palace was razed by the Dutch but the grounds have been preserved as a heritage site.

Sunday is market day in the village, and most of the folks seem to like to hang out at the masjid near the market. There were hordes by the sultan’s graves, on the minaret, all over the masjid, in the heat, just having a good time.

After the sultan was banished from the old palace, he built a second one nearby, which was also subsequently destroyed.

Besides the palace ruins, we also saw a little of the port, and a Chinese temple (the best preserved structure) across what used to be the Dutch garrison.

There’s not much to see, in terms of checkbox for being there and doing that, but some food for thought on how a large kingdom could come to this state.

 

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