Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Palembang Historical Sites : An Introduction For Tourism

    Talking about tourism in Indonesia is commonly reffered to Bali or another “exotic” places, such as Lombok or enjoying wildlife adventures in Borneo, even Papua. In southern part of Sumatra Island lies a richness of culture for centuries ago. A place where various civilizations meet ; Palembang, the capital of South Sumatra Province today. At the past, it had a magnificent era under the Kingdom of Sriwijaya as the early “role model” for showing us the real meaning of “Unity” among Indonesians. The Kingdom held an authority for a large region in today’s geographical view are few parts of Sumatra and Malayan peninsula. The size of the city of Palembang during the time of Sriwijaya period could be pictured from the distance of the Kedukan Bukit (682 CE) inscription that contained first news of early settlement in the region, which is now located in the foot of Bukit Siguntang (Seguntang Hill) while its eastern end is the location where the inscription of Telaga Batu was found : that is Kampung 2 Ilir behind PT. Pusri (Eng : Sirwijaya Fertilizer ; a national company for fertilizer production) Complex. At the northwest part of it, lies the inscription of Talang Tuo that mentioned the establishment of Sri Ksetra Garden by the first Sriwijayans ruler, Dapunta Hyang Sri Jayanasa ; now located in Talang Kelapa sub-district. These locations pictured the circle of early Palembang in Sriwijaya period, where area coverage is 400.61 kilometers square.

    One of the certain heritages from this period can be found in Sriwijaya Kingdom Archeological Park. The park is also facilitated by the government within museum and its office. In addition, an auditorium was built to hold so many events like seminars or another public activities. Sriwijaya Archaeological Park formerly known as Karanganyar archaeological site, is the ancient remnants of a garden and habitation area near the northern bank of Musi river within Palembang vicinity, South Sumatra, Indonesia. Remnants of ancient man-made canals, moats, ponds and artificial islands discovered in this area suggests the site was an urban center in the 7th to 13th century Sriwijaya empire. Several artifacts, such as Buddhist statues, beads, pottery and Chinese ceramics were found in this area, confirming the area was once a dense human habitation.
    The archaeological park is located in Jalan Syakhyakirti, Kelurahan Karanganyar, Kecamatan Gandus, Palembang, on an alluvial plain of the Musi River near its junction with the Ogan and Kramasan rivers.The northern bank of the Musi river in and around Palembang is known as the location of archaeological sites dated between the 7th and 15th centuries; among others are Kambang Unglen, Padang Kapas, Ladang Sirap and Bukit Seguntang archaeological sites near the Karanganyar site.The Karanganyar site elevation is less than 2 meters (6 ft 7 in) from the surface of Musi river. Located around 4 kilometers (2.5 mi) southwest from Palembang city center or south from Seguntang hill, the site can be accessed with public transportation heading to Tangga Batu.The site consists of three sub-sites: Karanganyar 1, 2, and 3. The largest site, Karanganyar 1, takes the plan of a rectangular pond measuring 623 by 325 meters (2,044 ft × 1,066 ft). In the center of the pond are two artificial islands: Nangka (462 by 325 meters (1,516 ft × 1,066 ft)) and Cempaka (40 by 40 meters (130 ft × 130 ft)). Moats measuring (15 by 1,190 meters (49 ft × 3,904 ft)) surround Nangka island. Sub-site Karanganyar 2, southwest of the main pond, takes the plan of a small pond with a small square artificial island measuring (40 by 40 meters (130 ft × 130 ft)). Sub-site Karanganyar 3 is a pond located east of Karanganyar 1 measuring 60 by 60 meters (200 ft × 200 ft).Seven canals connected the three sub-sites. Canal 1, identified by locals as Parit Suak Bujang, is the largest and longest, measuring 3 kilometers (1.9 mi) long and 25–30 meters (82–98 ft) wide with both ends connected to the Musi river. The 1.6-kilometer (0.99 mi) long canal 2 is parallel with canal 1, located south of the Karanganyar 1 and 3 sites. The west end of canal 2 ends in the Karanganyar 2 site, while the east end connects to the Musi river. Canal 1 and Canal 2 are connected by the 700-meter (2,300 ft) long canal 3 that runs along the north-south axis located between sub-sites 1 and 3. Parallel to canal 3 are canal 4 and 5 located west of sub-site 1 with their south ends connecting to canal 2. There are two canals, canal 6 and 7, that connect canal 2 with the Musi river in the south side.

    Artifact findings discovered in this area revealed the everyday life of its inhabitants, such as colorful beads, amber, ropes made from arenga pinnata fibers, brick structure, Chinese ceramics, pottery, and the remnant of a wooden ship. Most of these findings were discovered during the construction of the archaeological park. Reconstruction of pottery and ceramics fragments revealed daily domestic objects such as a vase, water vessel, bowl, plate, stove, clay pot, and roof. These domestic artifacts suggest the area was once a dense human habitation.The water structures such as canals, ponds and artificial islands also confirm human habitation for long periods. The people that once inhabited the area probably built these canals for water drainage to prevent flooding as well as water transportation to connect the Musi River with inland areas.
Between 1985 and 1989 archaeological excavation was conducted and discovered fragments of pottery, ceramics, beads, and brick structure. The Chinese ceramics discovered here are dated from Tang, Sung, Yuan and Qing dynasties, spanning the 7th to 19th centuries. Excavation in Cempaka island revealed a brick structure buried 30 centimetres (12 in) deep with east-west axis. Other than canals and the small brick structure, there are no significant building or temple ruins discovered on this site. Archaeology experts suggest the lack of building ruins is because the site is located near a large river surrounded by tropical rainforest with no stone quarry near the area. As the result the temple, palace, and houses were probably built from wood and bricks, organic materials that easily decay and were destroyed by frequent flooding of the river and humidity in less than 200 years.

Kedukan Bukit Inscription
    Aerial photographs taken in 1984 revealed the canal network span in the Karanganyar site, confirming some landscape modifications and man-made water structures. The government of South Sumatra province renovated the site to create an archaeological park, and the completion of the park construction was overseen on 22 December 1994 by Indonesian president Suharto The archaeological park also hosts the Sriwijaya Museum, which serves as the information center of Sriwijayan history and sites in Palembang. In the center of this site there is a pavilion constructed in Limasan Palembang traditional architecture that contains the replica of the Kedukan Bukit Inscription placed in a glass case. The inscription tells the Siddhayatra journey of Dapunta Hyang Sri Jayanasa, considered as the establishment of Sriwijayan empire.
Telaga Batu Inscription

Ship Remnant from Sriwijaya Era
    The existence of the center of Sriwijaya in Palembang lasted till the 10th century CE. A Chinese source, The History of Song Dynasty book 489 (960-1279CE) mentioned that “...the King of San-bo-tsai (San-fo-tsi ; Chinese name for Sriwijaya) lived in Chan-pi (Jambi), and within this country lots of name for places started with the title “Pu-“ (in Malayan version is “Pa-“ one of them was “Pa-lembang” ). Based on that information we can assumed that the center of the kingdom had early moved to Jambi. The attack of the Tamil in year 1025 CE might have weakened Sriwijaya. The decline was perhaps occured between 1079-1082 CE, because in year 1079 Sriwijaya-Palembang and Jambi sent ambassadors to China while in year 1082 CE it was only Jambi that still have official relationship with the empire of China.

Author : Arafah Pramasto, Co : Sapta Anugrah