Gunung Padang Megalithic Site Tour
Read below content to learn more about Gunung Padang.
Table of Contents
Stunning Views Surround the Site
Lush mountainous regions surround the site. From the top surface, to the North direction, you can see mount Gede-Pangrango on a clear weather. The view is adorable. Sometime, visitors are more impressed with the beautiful view than the mystery of the site.
The surrounding views, on the way to the site from the district mainroad is beautiful. There are villages, farms, rice fields, hills, and tea plantation. The tea plantation names are Gunung Manik and Gunung Rosa. They produce tea leaves for a famous ready-to-drink tea product in Indonesia, Teh Botol Sosro.
The accessing road is the village road. It is already widened, but still narrow and winding on some parts. A big bus cannot pass the road. The biggest vehicle that is able to pass the road is a mini or medium sized bus with capacity about 20 seats.
Government maintain the site. They charge a cheap ticket price. It is IDR 5,000/pax.
Parking area in front of the entrance is too small. It cannot accommodate some cars, especially on the weekend and holiday. To solve this problem, local people made another parking area (Parking 2) on another place. It is about 500m before, and on the way to the entrance. Parking fee is vary, between IDR 5,000 – IDR 25,000 depend on the vehicle.
From Parking 2, you need to walk to the entrance for about 500m length. It is quite easy to walk for a walker because the road is very good. It is an asphalt road and not too steep. At Parking 2, some motorcycle taxis usually will offer their service to bring visitors up to the entrance, if visitors prefer not to walk up on their foot.
Government hire some local people to serve and guide visitors on site. But normally they cannot speak English. They wear a distinctive local costume, normally in black color.
Five Terraces of The Site
Gunung Padang consists of five flat terraces: First terrace as the lowest level to Fifth Terrace as the highest level.
Climb Up from Entrance to First Terrace
To reach the first terrace from the entrance, you need to walk up through a stair with 400 steps that composed by andesite stones. It is the original stair with angle reaches 45 degree. It is not an easy walk for some people. To help visitors climbing up to the site, government installed an iron handle on each side of the stair. The handles are green. It helps you because you can hold on the handle when you are climbing up. But it looks not good, because it’s not naturally made by the ancient people.
If you think the original stair is too hard for you, you can take another easier stair on your right side when you are entering the entrance. The government built this additional stair to help visitors who have difficulty in climbing the original stair. This stair is quite flat with much more steps. It goes through the side of the pyramid. You will enter the Second Terrace from the site if you pass this stair.
My recommendation for you, who usual to walk far is to use the original or main stair to reach the First Terrace. Then you can use the easier stair when going down. By using the main stair, you will reach the First Terrace and enter it at the middle of two standing andesite stones. It is like you are entering the pyramid from the main gate.
The Meaning of Gunung Padang
Gunung Padang is a type of megalithic site because constructed by many large stones. The word megalith come from two ancient Greek words: ‘Megas’ means Great, and ‘Litos’ means Stone.
Name Gunung Padang derived from local Sundanese language. Gunung means mountain, and Padang means light or enlightenment. So it means Mountain of Enlightenment.
Another meaning version of Padang is an acronym from three words:
- “Pa” means place
- “Da” means great
- “Hyang” means ancestors
Those words become one word Padang which means the Great Place of Ancestors.
Actually it is not a mountain but a hill. But local people call it gunung, means mountain, because it is located on the hilltop like a mountain.
A Shocking Discovery
There are many prehistoric megalithic site in Indonesia. But the discovery of Gunung Padang made geologist and scientist around the world open their eyes. The discoveries shocked the world of sciences, archaeology, and anthropology because it could change our common knowledge about history. It is like a big elephant entering a crowded anthropology classroom. Two things that shocked the world is about the age and the size of the site.
The site has five terraces/layers. Each layer has each age. According to the radiocarbon dating test, the first layer could be up to approximately 3,500 upto 5,000 years old. Beta Analytic Laboratory Miami, Florida, USA tested the 5-12 m deep samples, and the result is the samples of the site dated between 14,500-25,000 BC.
The deeper samples obtained, the older their ages. It seems, the ancient people build it layer by layer. After first layer was constructed, the surface was manually buried beneath. Long years, even thousands years later, the process was repeated. They made new stone construction. Then buried it again beneath. the process was repeated until reached the current hilltop. How long they build the site and the reason to build it, are still mystery.
According to that result, the site is much older than the Great Pyramid of Giza which built in 2,551 BC. It is an evidence of a shockingly advanced ancient civilization. It also pass the most recent glacial period, which reminding us to the sinking Atlantis, a fictional wealth island or continent told by Plato, an Athenian philosopher in Ancient Greece period.
Size Does Matter
If we count the size using computer measurement scale, Gunung Padang is not megalithic site, but it is a gigalithic site. The top section alone has 5 terraces with 150 m long and 40 m wide. The entire construction, buried in the land is huge, much bigger compare to the surface area.
2011-2014 Investigation & Research
In 2011, Andi Arief, the President’s special staf for social and disaster assistance initiated to make a team consist of archaeologists to investigate and research the site sponsored by government. The current President at that time was Mr. Susilo Bambang Yudoyono.
The investigation use three methods: core drilling, excavation, and geophysical scanning technologies.
Core Drilling & Radiocarbon Dating
The team drilled at several locations, penetrating upto 35 m below the surface to obtain some materials to be dated using radiocarbon. The dated of the samples were done by Indonesia National Nuclear Energy Agency (BATAN) and US Beta Analytic Laboratory Miami.
In 2012, BATAN released result that paleosoil material from 3,5 m beneath the surface dated 4,700 BC. Then, Beta Analytic Miami released the result that the material from 5-12 m below the surfaced dated 14,500 -25,000 BC.
Those results generated many debate and controversy. Some scientist trust the result, but some other do not trust it. Radiocarbon dating itself is not a perfect method. But at least it is still better than human prediction.
Dr. Danny Hilman Natawidjaya, an Indonesian senior geologist lead the team to do geophysics scanning to Gunung Padang using georadar and geoelectric technology.
Three underground chambers were clearly visible upon the geoelectric scanning. The chambers located about 15 – 30 m below the surface 2. A chamber has big size, while 2 other chambers are small. The big chamber is look like a small house with roughly 9 m wide, 10 m long, and 5 m high.
The team excavated few areas in and around the site. Digging the area was very difficult. The soil surface was hard because it is ancient mortar soil made by human. The mortar consist of 45% iron minerals, 40% silica, and the rest are clay & carbon. It is a very good composition used for mortar. It is strongly predicted that the layers beneath were buried by human. The act of ancient people burying the site and then making a new structure on the surface is extremely astonishing. The team only dug surface until 4 m beneath. After excavation, the pits were filled up again to preserve the site.
During excavation, the team also discovered a hewn stone. The stone artefact is unusual. The stone is porous like a pumice, but heavy. The shape is similar to Kujang, a traditional blade of West Java. That’s why it is named Kujang Stone.
The Investigation was Halted
In 2014, the excavation and research sponsored by government was mysteriously halted. The fund was halted. In the same year, there is an indigenous entrepreneur offered 12 trillion rupiah, equal to 1 billion USD, plus the spending research cost for 60% stake in the site to maintain the site for tourism place. But the offer was refused.