The enchanting land of Sunda stretches from the Sunda Strait in the West to the borders of Central Java in the east. The region is primarily mountainous, with rich green valleys hugging lofty volcanic peaks, many of which surround the capital of the province, Bandung.
The history of West Java is a story of trade, spices, and the rise and fall of powerful kingdoms. In the late 1500’s the region was ruled from mighty Cirebon, which still survives as a sultanate today, although a shadow of its former glory. Banten, once a powerful maritime capital rivaling the vast Javanese Mataram empire, is today a fishing village with an illustrious past. West Java was one of the first contact points in Indonesia for Indian traders and their cultural influences, and it was here that the Dutch and British first set foot in the archipelago.
Domestic airlines serves to Bandung every day. Buses from Central Java and Jakarta arrived in Leuwi Panjang. Several trains operate from Jakarta, Yogyakarta and Surabaya to Bandung. Alternatively you can use rental service from neighboring cities to visit Bandung.
The oldest human inhabitant archaeological findings in the region were unearthed in Anyer (the western coast of Java) with evidences of bronze and iron metallurgical culture dated back to the first millennium AD.
The prehistoric Buni (the present-day Bekasi) clay pottery were later developed with evidences found from Anyer to Cirebon. Some artifacts (dated from 400 BC — AD 100) such as food and drink containers were found mostly as burial gifts. There is also archeological evidence in Batu jaya Archaeological Site dating from the 2nd century, and according to Dr. Tony Djubiantono, the head of Bandung Archeology Agency, Jiwa Temple in Batu jaya, Karawang, West Java was also built around this time.
Recorded history of West Java administration was started from the fourth century with the existence of Tarumanagara kingdom. Seven inscribed stones written in Wengi letters (used in the Indian Pallava period) and in Sanskrit language describe most of the kings of Tarumanagara. Records of Tarumanagara’s administration lasted until the sixth century, which coincides with the attack of Sriwijaya as stated in the Kota Kapur inscription (AD 686).
The Sunda kingdom then came into the ruling power of the region, the reference to which were found in the Kebon Kopi II inscription (AD 932).
An ulama (holy man in Islam) known today as Sunan Gunung Jati settled in Banten Girang, with the intention of spreading the world of Islam in this still pagan town. In the meantime, the Sultanate of Demak from Central Java grew into an immediate threat to Sunda kingdom. To defend against the threat, Prabu Surawisesa Jayaperkosa signed a treaty (known as the Luso Sundanese Treaty) with the Portuguese in 1512. In return, the Portuguese was granted an accession to build fortresses and warehouses in the area, as well as trading agreement with the kingdom. This first international treaty of West Java with the Europeans was commemorated by the placement of the Padrao stone monument at the riverbank of the Ciliwung River in 1522.
Although the treaty with Portuguese had been established, it couldn’t, Sunda Kalapa harbour fell under the alliance of the Sultanate of Demak and the Sultanate of Cirebon (former vassal state of Sunda kingdom) in 1524 after their troops under Falatehan alias Fadillah Khan had conquered the city. In 1524/1525, their troops under Sunan Gunung Jati also seized the port of Banten and established the Sultanate of Banten which was affiliating with the Sultanate of Demak. The war between the Sunda kingdom with Demak and Cirebon sultanates then continued for five years until a peace treaty were made in 1531 between King Surawisesa and Sunan Gunung Jati. From 1567 to 1579, under the last king Raja Mulya, alias Prabu Surya Kencana, Sunda kingdom declined essentially under the pressure from the Sultanate of Banten. After 1576, the kingdom could not maintain its capital at Pakuan Pajajaran (the present-day Bogor) and gradually the Sultanate of Banten took over the former Sunda kingdom’s region. The Mataram Sultanate from central Java also seized the Priangan region, the southeastern part of the kingdom.
In the sixteenth century, the Dutch and the British trading companies established their trading ships in West Java after the fall down of Sultanate of Banten. For the next three hundred years, West Java fell under the Dutch East Indies’ administration. West Java was officially declared as a province of Indonesia in 1950, referring to a statement from Staatblad number 378. On October 17, 2000, as part of nationwide political decentralization, Banten was separated from West Java and made into a new province.
Many people visit Bandung, the capital of West Java province, to pamper their taste buds. You’ll be amazed with what Bandung has to offer. From various food sold on street vendors to haute cuisine, every visitor will be able to find something to their liking here, in Bandung.
Sundanese (the people living in West Java are called Sundanese) has tempting refreshments. Sundanese food tends to be bland yet tasty unless you add sambal dadak (chili and other ingredients grinded together) to your food. If you’re looking for more spicy taste, just add this sambal dadak with nasi timbel (steamed rice formed into a roll inside a banana leaf) and other specialties. This mouthwatering treat is too good to be missed! Usually sour vegetables soup (sayur asam) is accompanied by nasi timbel.
Sundanese people eat vegetables a lot. Sometimes they even eat raw vegetables (called lalap or lalapan) like cucumbers, tomatoes, coriander leaves, eggplants, cabbages, lettuces, and so on. Lalapan is usually accompanied by sambal dadak.
Probably one of the most well known dish, timbel, consists of nasi timbel, lalapan, sambal dadak, a piece of chicken (fried or roasted Sundanese style), fried beancurd, fried tempe, a slice of jambal (salted fish). If you want to, you can add gepuk (slices of beef, mixed in traditional herbs, then fried), pepes (main ingredients such as fish, chicken, mushroom, etc. mixed with crushed and blended herbs, folded into a banana leaf, then steamed until they’re ready to eat), sauteed greens, and others. Nasi timbel is a favorite among locals and visitors. Batagor baso tahu goreng (literally means, fried meatballs & beancurd) is one of the most well-sought specialty. Made from blended fish and beancurd, with a special peanut sauce, batagor’s popularity remains constant.
People with sweet tooth might fancy pisang molen (literally Sundanese Food means, molen banana), Indonesian traditional pastry filled with banana and cheese. For a variation, try brownies kukus (steamed brownies). Es cendol, made of blended/grinded rice, palm sugar, and coconut milk, is delightful on a hot day. While for a colder day, you might want to taste bandrek or bajigur.
Bandung also offers various milk products most notably, yoghurt. Basically there are two kinds of yoghurt in Bandung the thin one, and the thick one (French style).
Hot snacks ala Bandung are widely sold throughout the city. Among them are gehu -toge tahu- (beancurd with beansprouts and vegetables filling), pisang goreng (fried banana), cireng -aci goreng- (fried tapioca), and many more. You might be interested in trying other snacks such as, nangka goreng (fried jackfruit), peuyeum goreng (fermented cassava, fried), nanas goreng (fried pineapple), and so on. Ketan bakar (roasted sticky rice) and jagung bakar/rebus (roasted/boiled corns) are also recommended.
Nasi goreng (fried rice), although not originally from Bandung, is also a favorite. The ingredients vary, according to people’s preference. Sometimes the rice is mixed with seafood (usually shrimps, pieces of cuttlefish, pieces of crab’s flesh), chicken and vegetables, mutton and vegetables, salted fish, and so on.
Cakue, a dish made of flour dough then fried, also worths a try.
Bandung also has other kinds of restaurants, like Padangese (food from West Sumatra, very spicy in taste), Javanese (sweeter in taste), Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Western, Indian and a lot more.
PEOPLE AND CULTURE
The native people are called Sundanese. Sundanese are friendly folks who value tradition. However in some big cities, like Bandung, the capital of West Java, other ethnic groups begin to dominate as well.
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