Bosscha’s Tomb: The Serenity of The Last Place

bIt’s one of the notes of my trip to Pangalengan at 17 March 2012. One just shouldn’t miss the tomb of someone who used to be a prominent figure at Malabar tea plantation: Karel Albert Rudolf Bosscha. Wikipedia and Google search result have almost everything about him. So here I would just let my photos guide the story more than my words.

I started out from Bosscha’s house. Public access to this place is somewhat less restricted. The surrounding landscape is drastically changed since the last time I went here many years ago. Some new buildings with almost the same architecture style are built nearby, with rooms opened for public to rent. I find a picture of the main house, dated 1952 from Tropen Museum :


Then I tried to take a picture from the closest possible angle as the above :


A picture collage of around and inside the house : (the house is now said to be a museum, a guide is assigned for the coming visitors)


From left to right : The entrance gate, showing the year 1896 on both sides; visitors’ cars in front of the main house; new buildings with some rooms for rent; at the back, there are houses in Sundanese style also for rent; views of the living room, fireplace near the dining table, an old picture of Sundanese gamelan players in the reception room, an old piano (still playable, but two notes are dead), and a bar-like corner. The last picture is what is called “Gunung Nini” or Nini’s Mountain: a gazebo on the top of a small hill where Bosscha used to be able to watch all areas of the tea plantation.

Off the gate, on the way out of the house, on the first turn to the left is what’s going to lead you to Bosscha’s graveyard. Before turning once again to the left, there’s a sign to the place :


The graveyard is so well-maintained. Fallen leaves and trashes from visitors are regularly taken care of as there’s a keeper responsible for the task. The shadiness of trees, quietness, gusts of wind coming from the hill to the tea plantation, … all add to the whole serenity of this place.


A middle-aged lady and her spouse are the keepers in regular shift. I don’t know, but when she said something to me and addressed the name as “Pak Bosscha”, I could feel there’s a sense of connectedness in her voice. She’s not just doing her job. It’s her life. Bosscha is really like someone who has just ‘been here’.


The inscription explains who Bosscha is : (my translation)

K.A.R. Bosscha

A brillyant individual who has the dedication, integration, as well as determination. He came to Indonesia in 1887. Successfully managed and developed the Malabar Tea Plantation – Pangalengan in 1896 – 1928. He is also known for his contribution and roles for :
– Technische Hogeschool, now known as Bandung Institute of Technology
– Societeit Concordia, now known as the Merdeka Building of Bandung, where Asia-Africa
Conference was held
– Bosscha Observatorium, a star observatory with the biggest  lens in the world at the era
(1923 – 1926)
– And some other masterpieces.
His last resting place here was his space for leisure in the middle of his daily activities.

Renovated as donation from:
PT. Duffill Watts Indonesia
Pangalengan, September 1999

The upper part of the tombs is said to resemble Bosscha’s hat :


For all of his contribution, he was awarded honorary citizenship of Bandung and Bosscha has become a street name in the city until now.

I wonder why I don’t see the same respect and care for Junghuhn’s Tomb. He didn’t have specific contribution to Bandung, so it is understandable if no street is under his name. But even in Lembang, the only thing that would remind people of him is ‘Jalan Taman Junghuhn’ or Junghuhn Garden Street. It denotes more on the garden. It’s not that it’s not enough, but considering the ignorance for the place, there should have been more than that.

Bosscha was very well-to-do. No doubt about that. His contribution are tangible and can be seen physically. In case of Junghuhn, his was more on science. Could this be the cause ? Have we been putting values too much only on the things that the eyes can see ?

The Neglected Junghuhn’s Tomb

JunghuhnFW-photo1What could be the reason that we pay respect to someone’s graveyard ? A hero obviously deserves that. Well, he might not  be exactly a ‘hero’, especially Indonesian hero in its history. In fact, he was a Dutch (originally a German). However he has done a quite significant contribution to Botany and noted to be the first who enchart Java island with details. He was also a doctor, geologist, and excellent drawing artist, to say the least. He is Franz Wilhelm Junghuhn (Mansfeld, German, 26 October 1809 – Lembang, West Java, 24 April 1864).

A short description of who he was can be found on Wikipedia. Here and there through Google, we could find some pictures of his drawing of old Java & Sumatra. Amazing. One of his drawings that I like the most : (on Dieng Plateau)

On 07 April 2012, I had the chance to visit his Tomb at Lembang, the north way part of Bandung. I have pinpointed the location using my old Etrex. The latitude – longitude is S 06°48.463’ – E 107°37.256’ with tolerance of 11 meter; a quite striking difference with my finding previously on Google Earth : S 6° 48’28.29” – E 207° 37’15.87’’. Anyway, its aerial view from Google Earth is quite distinguishable from the surrounding, as the place is quite densely overgrown :


It was long weekend, as 05 April was Easter. I had the thought that the location might be crowded with visitors. As I was going through the main road around the spot, I had to ask people where it was exactly. Later, at the turn from the main road, I found the sign. It was not in its place, saying “Taman Junghuhn”, pointing to nowhere :


Approaching the main entrance, I was surprised there was nobody. Even the gate was chained. I could only stare from the outside before a lady with her baby showed me the way in, which is a narrow alley in the middle of closely-spaced houses :


Some teenagers were sitting around the tomb. They were suprised by our coming (I was with some friends). I got this glimpse that they’re up to something. Apparently, they were sucking the odor of that intoxicating glue (Aica Aibon). Nowhere is the picture of Junghuhn, but a description was still readable :


The tomb is stood still :


The inscription :


I find graffities all around the tomb. People don’t seem to care that this is something deserves respect. The way I see it, the government ignores this place as a potential tourist destination. I think it’s only a matter of time before everything turns out to be even worst :


As I walked around, I learned that Junghugn’s grave was actually 20 meter away at the back of the tomb. How infuriating!! A couple of teenagers were sitting on it 😦


They rushed away as they knew that I took some shots. I was sad, really. There was no inscription around, even on the headstone (actually no such ‘head’). Graffities are all around. To make it even more upsetting, a trash dump is just a few meters away !!

OK. Indonesia was colonized by the Dutch for, say, three and a half century. Was it behind all this ignorance ? That “pride of being Indonesian”, … Should it have anything to do at all with valuing the past ?

The tomb, the grave, and the natural reserve will remain silent. The sprit of Junghuhn might even have gone somewhere else.

%d bloggers like this: