Setu Babakan : Betawi Village Communities in Jakarta
Located at Srengseng Sawah in the subdistrict of Jagakarsa in South Jakarta, is Setu Babakan, a man-made lake that is a water catchment area for the city of Jakarta. The lake receives its water from the Ciliwung river that flows here from the mountains of West Java. Covering an area of around 30 hectares, this peaceful lake is surrounded by clusters of shady fruit trees among which are mangoes, mangosteens, rambutans, starfruit, guava, jackfruit, durians and many other juicy tropical fruits.
As one of the last remaining, and most intact Betawi village communities in Jakarta, Setu Babakan has been stipulated as a Betawi Cultural Heritage village to showcase the life of the original Betawi people, the indigenous ethnic group of Jakarta.
Here visitors can see the original architecture and layout of the houses or stroll through this rustic village that has retained the Betawi atmosphere, watch cultural performances by the lakeside, enjoy special Betawi food and snacks, or go fishing or boating on the lake.
For, it is here at Setu Babakan where the Betawi Culture is being kept for conservation and revival for posterity. Discovering such a large area of green trees and rural setting in the middle of busy Jakarta is indeed a most enjoyable surprise.
When at Setu Babakan do try and enjoy the original Betawi cuisine which include kerak telor, a thin crepe omelette, toge goreng (fried beansprouts), arum manis (candy floss), soto betawi, es duren (durian iced drink), Bir pletok (concoction of mixed fruit juices), nasi uduk (fragrant rice with side dishes) and a host more.
After strolling through the village, watch the different Betawi music and dance performances of Lenong, or tari topeng (mask dance), or bands playing keroncong, tanjidor, or gambang kromong.
Regular cultural performances are shown here every Sunday from 2 pm to 4 pm, while dance training sessions of Betawi dances that include Sirih Kuning, Lenggang Nyai and others are held each Sunday, Friday and Wednesdays.
Every July a special Betawi Cultural Festival takes place here that includes wedding ceremonies, circumcision ceremonies, seven-months pregnancy rites, and other traditional ceremonies, rites and festivities.
The village now has public facilities, mosques, stages for performances, children playground, outdoor theatre, guesthouse, and souvenir shops and food stalls.
There is also a photo shop where visitors can take memorable pictures in original Betawi costumes.
To get to Setu Babakan, when you drive, take the Jakarta Outer Ring Road (JORR) toll road to Jagakarsa. At Jalan Lenteng Agung make a U-turn after the University of Pancasila, then turn left pass the Aulia and Zahirah Hospitals before reaching Setu Babakan.
If you prefer public transportation you can take the Kopaja at the Pasar Minggu Terminal. Take Kopaja No. 616 which takes the route Blok M – Cimpedak. The vehicle will stop right in front of the gate at Setu Babakan. The fee will cost you Rp 1,400. Or you can take a taxi from Depok, which is a short distance from here.