In this kind of tour, we will bring you to the heart and the lungs of Bogor city and the oldest botanical garden in South East Asia. It is Kebun Raya Bogor or Bogor Botanical Gardens.
It is the heart of Bogor city because is it located in the middle of the city. It is also the lungs for the city because the gardens have lots of big trees inside. They filter carbon dioxide and produce oxygen everyday. Beside that, the botanical garden also conserve many rare plants.
This tour can be also combined with visiting other few places nearby like Puppet Maker, Batik Maker, Sindangbarang cultural village, etc.
About Bogor City
Bogor is a small city in West Java Province. It is located about 60 km south of Jakarta.
In the Kingdom era, the city was the capital of Sunda Kingdom with the name Pakuan Pajajaran. The city was also the capital of Indonesia during the brief British occupation, and under the name Buitenzorg in the Dutch colonial period. During the reign of Dutch Governor General Gustaaf Willem baron van Imhoff (1745), the city was used as a resting place. Therefore, a governor mansion was built. The mansion was used as a summer residence for the Governor. That is why the area was called Buitenzorg which means “no worry”, “without a care”, or “peaceful place”. The mansion is now become Bogor Presidential Palace.
Bogor is a historic and tourism city. There are beautiful places in this city you can see. The most famous and most popular is Bogor Botanical Gardens or Kebun Raya Bogor.
Location of Bogor Botanical Gardens
Bogor Botanic Gardens is located in the middle of Bogor city, about 60 KM south of central Jakarta. It takes about one hour 15 minutes driving from Jakarta.
The Functions and Benefits of The Botanic Gardens
The existence of a botanical garden is very important for human being. Without human, trees can still alive. But without trees, human will die. That is why the garden is still well maintained until now.
A botanic garden is a good place to protect endangered plants. It has function as a conservation forest. It is also a safe place for rare plants to grow. The plants can be bred and treated in order to get a specific or new plant.
The gardens are the best source of learning the plants life. With many important collection of plants, the gardens is the best natural laboratory for researcher and students. Common people can learn about botany and plant life in this area while sightseeing. Teachers can bring their students here for learning the plantations.
Parents can also bring their children here for walking around. People can jog around and breath some fresh air. But beware in the heavy rain, do not stay under any big tree, because it can fall down. There are many old big trees in the gardens.
The Bogor Botanic Gardens attract many visitors from around the world because of the collection they have and the historic stories behind the gardens. As the oldest botanical garden in South East Asia, the garden has passed various important times, such as colonial era, world war 2, Napoleon war, and modern time.
The garden to Bogor city is like a lung in the middle of human body. The plants absorb huge amounts of carbon dioxide that circulates in the atmosphere of the fast-growing city.
The gardens is also a good house for some animals like monitor lizards, birds, ants, fish, and bats. Visitors are not allowed to hunt and fish.
The gardens is also housing a zoologi museum collecting many died animals and skeleton of animals from all over Indonesia.
The History of the Gardens
Kebun Raya Bogor or Bogor Botanic Gardens is the oldest botanical garden in South East Asia. Officially opened by Dutch in 1817. Before it was opened by Dutch, Sir Stamford Raffles, a British lieutenant, occupied Java and stayed in Buitenzorg’s Dutch mansion in short period time between 1811 – 1816. During that time, Stamford Raffles brought 2 botanists from London’s Kew Botanic Gardens to re-landscaped this Bogor garden into a British-styled garden.
Collection and Things To See
Bogor Botanic Gardens has about 15,000 plants collection. Not only plant, in the garden you can also see museums, statue, graveyard, etc. Here are some beautiful things to see in the garden.
Jalan Kenari (Canarium Avenue)
There are two Kenari street. The first, Kenari I is connecting the main entrance of the garden with Bogor Palace entrance. Another one, Kenari II is connecting two red suspension bridges. They are called Canarium street because there are many tall Canary trees along the side of the streets. The tree can reach 40 m in height. Canary (Canarium ovatum) is native to Indonesia, Malaysia, Philipines, and Papua. In Philipines it is called Pili tree. The nutshell can be used for making handycraft, like keychain. If you crack the shell, you will find a savory nut inside. The nut is edible for roasted nut or cake mixture. The taste is similar to almond. The nut is also a good source for healthy oil.
The Giant Corpse Flower: Amorphophallus Titanum
Amorphophallus Titanum is a treasure for Bogor Botanical Gardens. With the flowering of the corpse flower in the botanical garden, it indicates that the garden successfully become a conservation place for rare plants. In its natural habitat, on Sumatra island, especially in Bengkulu and Lampung provinces, this flower is considered as vulnerable and almost endangered because many forests in Sumatra have been converted into agricultural lands and palm plantation.
The flower has another name: Titan Arum. But the scientific name of the flower is Amorphophallus titanum. According to Gustavus Adolphus College, the name derived from the Latin words:
- amorphos means without form, or misshapen
- phallos means “Mr. P” or the male genital organ
- titanum means giant
The flower is very big. It is considered the largest non-branched inflorescence flower (a bouquet consists of many flowers). It can reach 2 m in height and 1.5 m in width. It produces bad smell when blooming. That is why people also called it corpse flower.
The bad smell and burgundy color of the flowers are meant to imitate dead animal to attract pollinators like dung beetles, flies, and carnivorous insects. Those pollinators help the flowers to continue their life cycle. The flower is normally bloom in few days only. After pollination is complete, the flower will withers and becomes dormant soon after collapses. After that, a new stem will grow on its corm to begin a new life. Diagram below shows us the life cycle of this corpse flower. Thanks to Chicago Botanic Garden for creating it.
The flower only bloom once in a few years, so people cannot see it everyday when visiting the gardens.
Lady Raffles Statue
This statue is build by Sir Stamford Raffles to memorize his wife, Olivia Mariamne Devenish. Olivia was died in Buitenzorg (Bogor) in 1814, but she was buried in Jakarta, at Taman Prasasti Museum, a European graveyard that had been converted into a museum. In the statue, there is a poem telling the deepest expression of Raffles:
Oh thou whom neer my constant heart,
One moment hath forgot,
Tho fate severe hath bid us part,
Yet still forget me not.
Ficus elastica or rubber plant or karet kebo in local language is a popular plant from Ficus genus. It is a huge tree with beautiful aerial roots. The tree yields latex for making rubber. The leave has benefits for treating stroke.
At this garden, you will find some types of bamboo like yellow bamboo, giant bamboo, lemang bamboo, etc. Giant bamboo has original name Dendrocalamus Giganteus, It is native to Myanmar, China, and Thailand. It was brought Myanmar, and was planted in 1928. Bamboo is a great material for making traditional house, bridge, paper, water drainage, furniture, handicraft, cooking, musical instrument, etc. The young bamboo (rebung) can be cooked to make a soup or salad.
Orchid house was built in 2000. It is a house for preserving and displaying orchid species from indonesia and also hybrid orchids that are flowering. The house also sells bottled orchid species.
Giant Patma or Rafflesia Arnoldii Flower
Same as Amorphophallus Titanum, this flower is also called corpse flower due to its very strong unpleasant odor when blooming. This flower has name Rafflesia Arnoldii in honor of Sir Stamford Raffles. Stamford Raffles was the Indonesia governor in the British colonial period. He lead an expedition in a forest in Bengkulu (Sumatra island) to look for this flower. The flower is hard to locate because the buds take many months to develop and the flower lasts for only a few days. The flower lives as a parasite on several vines and can grows up to 1 meter in diameter.
Giant Waterlily (Victoria Amazonica)
This giant waterlily is native to Amazon river. It has big circular leaves that can grow up to 1,5 m in diameter and can hold up to 3 kg. You can find this plant on Gunting (scissor) lake behind Bogor Palace and on Victoria pond in front of Grand Garden Cafe & Resto.
You will find something different at Mexican Garden. Normally people will find green grass covering the ground in Bogor Botanical Gardens. But in this Mexican styled garden, the usual thick grass has been replaced with gravel and rocks. Dry and arid atmosphere was created to accommodate various types of succulent plants. The word “succulent” comes from the Latin word sucus, meaning juice, because the plants have juicy leaves or stems for holding water through long periods of dry climate.
In 1928, Princess Astrid from Belgium visited the Bogor Botanical Garden with Prince Leopold for doing honeymoon. In honor of their arrival, in the middle of the road was planted with Tasbih flowers (Canna Hybrida). This flower has red and yellow color. Its stems and leaves have dark color. These colors resemble the colors of the national flag of the kingdom of Belgium: black, yellow, and red.
Grand Garden Cafe & Resto
Grand Garden Cafe & Resto is the only one restaurant in the Bogor Botanical Gardens. Located at an altitude small hill, visitors can enjoy the panorama of the gardens and Victoria pond from the restaurant. The cafe is an open air family restaurant serving Indonesian, Western, and Oriental food.
Pohon Raja (King Tree or Koompassia Excelsa)
It is known as the tallest tree in the lowland tropical forest, spread from the island of Sumatra, Borneo (Kalimantan) to Malaysia, and Thailand. In Malaysia, it is called Tualang tree. The age of this tree reaches hundreds of years with very hard stems that are suitable for use as building materials, woodwork, shade plants and protective plants. The diameter reaches 2.7 meters and the height of the stem reaches 80 meters, supported by its large buttress roots. The buttress roots also help the tree gathers nutrients because in a lowland forest, nutrients were found on soil near surface, not in a deep soil.
Honeybees like to build their nest on it because the three is tall and has slippery stem which can prevent predator to climb up. This condition also protects the trees from loggers, because the value of the honey is higher than the timber.
Palem Sadeng (Livistona Rotundifolia)
Livistona Rotundifolia, locally known as Sadeng/Serdang palm is an ornamental plant native to South East Asia. It has unique leaves. The leave has circular shape like a fan. That is why it is called rotundifolia in Latin words, means having round leaves. The young leaves can be used to wrap food, while the old leaves can be used for roofs. Its stem grows up to 40m.
This cemetery is located behind Bogor Palace and in the middle of Bamboo Garden. It was here long before Bogor Botanic Garden officially opened in 1817. There are 42 grave with their own gravestones. Most of them were relatives of Dutch government. The newest grave is the grave of Prof. Dr. AJ.G.H. Kostermans who died in 1994. He was a Botanist in this garden and already spend more than 50 years learning and working in plantation field. He was buried at this graveyard upon his request.
There are also two young biologist were buried in one graved here. They are Heinrich Kuhl, a German naturalist and Johan Conrad van Hasselt, a Dutch zoologist. Both of them sailed from Texel, Netherland and arriving in Batavia (former name of Jakarta) on December 1820. Eight month later, in 1821 Heinrich Kuhl died in Buitenzorg (now Bogor) of a liver infection before his 24th birthday. His partner, Johan van Hasselt then continued his work collecting bird, fish, and mammal specimens, but he died two years later. J.C. van Hasselt is buried in a single grave with Heinrich Kuhl.
Large Bats or Flying Foxes (Megabats)
Large bats are mostly nocturnal animal. But sometimes you can see few of them flying around the garden in the day time, while most of them are sleeping by hanging upside down on the top branches of tall trees.
Bats are the only mammals that can fly. They fly using their two 5 fingers that are connected to the forelimb through thin skin on each side as wings. This thin layer skin is called membrance. Their wings are the webbed hands.
The order classification of the bats has name Chiroptera. Chiroptera is derived from two ancient latin words ‘cheir‘ (means hand) and ‘pteron‘ (means wing). There are two suborders of chiroptera based on what they eat:
- Megachiroptera (Megabats), they eat fruits, nectars, and pollen. Fruits-eating bats are normally have bigger bodies than insects-eating bats. They are also called flying foxes because their head look like foxes, which has long pointed muzzle, big eyes, and small pointed ears. They have good eyesight.
- Microchiroptera (Microbats), they eat insects. Normally they have small body but have wide ears. They use echolocation or bio sonar to determine the location of objects using their sounds. They make noises and hear the noises bounce back off objects. It allows them to move around and locate the flying insects in the darkness of the night.
The bats in Bogor Botanical Gardens is classified as fruit bats or Megabats. They are also called Pteropus Vampyrus. Pteropus is their genus. And the word vampyrus is derived from the word vampire, means blood-sucking ghost, eventhough they are actually vegetarian. In bahasa (Indonesian language), they are called kalong, kalong kapuk, and kalong besar.
They are the largest species of bats. The have body length about 40 cm from head to tail and their wingspan can reach 1,5 m in length.
The megabats are very helpful to disperse seeds and pollinate flowers. Their existence is vital to the survival of tropical forests and fruit plants. There are hundreds of trees and plant species rely on bats to do regeneration and pollination. They are mangoes, guavas, durian, bananas, agave, kapok tree, sausage tree, etc. Bats also rely on the fruits and flowers of those trees.
In a muslim country like Indonesia, most people do not eat bats. But there is a minority ethnic who eat bats. They are Manadonese from Sulawesi island. In Jakarta, there is a Manadonese restaurant selling bats as their favorite dish, Paniki.
Other Places Nearby
If you are not a researcher nor a conserver, maybe a day is enough for you to explore the garden. In case you still have few hours time in Bogor, you can visit a place nearby. Other places you might like are: Museum Tanah, Wayang Golek Puppet Maker, Batik Maker, Al Nassr Rafting, Masjid Harakatul Jannah, Gong Factory, Kampung Budaya Sindangbarang, Kuntum farmfield, factory outlet, local food restaurants, and Warso Farm.
Wayang Golek Puppet Maker
Mr. Entang has been making wayang golek puppets since 1965. Initially, he was only assisted by two workers. After receiving a big order of 120 puppet characters in 1972 from Indonesia 2nd President, Mr. Soeharto, he began teaching some neighbors and relatives to become his employees. His business continues until now. His oldest son, Enday Media, is responsible to handle promotion and marketing of their puppet products. That’s why, this puppet workshop has name: the Media Art & Handicraft, Bogor.
The raw material used to make this puppet is lame wood. This wood was chosen because it is easy to be found, economical, has soft textured, and durable. Lame wood comes from Lame or Pulai trees. This tree has Latin name Alstonia Scholaris. Aside from being a raw material for making puppets, lame wood is also used as material for making household utensils and handicrafts.
Masjid Harakatul Jannah
Harakatul Jannah Mosque is a beautiful mosque located on Gadog district. If you go to Puncak from Bogor or Jakarta via toll road, you can easily find it on the right side of the mainroad after exit toll. It was officially opened on 14th September 2012. It was built by Syahrul Efendi, an ex mayor of South Jakarta. It is named Harakatul Jannah, means heaven movement. It takes about six years to build it. It has two floors with size 24 m x 24 m, which can accommodate about one thousand prayers. What’s unique from this mosque is its design. Widyaningrum, an Indonesian architect, and Abdullah, a Moroccan architect, help Syahrul to create the design. The mosque has beautiful design adopted from some mosques and other architecture buildings of few countries in the world. The seven onion domes, made of copper, were inspired by Taj Mahal in India with additional hand carving. Few cube elements were inspired by Kaabah in Saudi Arabia. There are 28 doors with various size, made of teak wood carved with Jepara carvings. Jepara is a city in Central Java known as wodd carvings. The main gate was inspired by Minang architecture. Minang is an ethnic group in West Sumatra.
Gong Factory is the only one gong manufacturer located in West Java. Gong is a circular metal traditional music instrument. This family-run business has been established for more than 200 years and has been inherited from the first parents to the 7th generation now. It takes time to make a gong because it is not a mass produced. They make it traditionally by hand, using large hammers and fire. The gong is made of copper and tin. The factory can make five small gongs, named bonang, in a day. To make a big gong, it takes 8 days from start until finish. They make it in a dark garage to see the maturity of the raw material and the thinnes of the gong while being forged.