இந்தோனேஷியா ஜகார்த்தாவில் கைலாச மியூஸியம்
Kailasa museum, preserving Hindu civilization
Slamet Susanto, The Jakarta Post, Banjarnegara, Central Java
A lack of information and data on Central Java's archeological site in Dieng, Banjarnegara regency, has left the region a relatively unknown tourist destination.
As the oldest site of Hindu civilization on Java, Dieng is often seen by some people as the location of an ancient Hindu kingdom due to the lack of information.
In reality, no kingdom was ever set up on this plateau. It was the center of Shiva worship for Hindu saiwa sect followers during the 7th to 12th centuries.
The presence of this sect is shown through its Hindu features in the temple complex.
For instance, Arjuna Temple within the Dieng complex has the wimana (bamboo structure design) in India while Bima Temple represents the sikhara or India's pagoda.
One of the inscriptions also refers to Dieng as Kailasa, which is believed to be the heavenly abode of Shiva. Kailasa is also the name of a sacred mountain considered to be the center of the world by local Hindus.
Sadly, though, the historic value and natural marvels of Dieng have gone largely unnoticed. People are more familiar with Borobudur Temple and other historic places thanks to their better marketing systems.
In an effort to provide comprehensive information on Dieng, the Banjarnegara regency administration in cooperation with archeologists, historians and volcanologists of Yogyakarta's Gadjah Mada University (UGM) and the Archeological Heritage Conservation Agency has opened Kailasa Museum.
UGM archeologist Nia Nugrahani said preparations for the museum had taken place for years, but that intensive studies of Dieng, involving various disciplines of science, had been undertaken in the past 22 months.
Themed "Dieng in natural and cultural history", the studies gathered everything about the zone from the plateau's formation to the tradition of locals.
"It's like doing a jigsaw to create a Dieng information system," Nia said.
Dieng plateau is the second highest plateau in the world after Nepal. It lies at an altitude of 2,093 meters, where cool air, a beautiful hilly panorama and diverse flora and fauna can be enjoyed.
When the weather is fine, Dieng is the only place to watch the glows of the so-called "double sunrise".
The golden sunrise comes first, lasting from 5:30 am to 6:00 a.m.. From the 1,700-meter-high view station of Dieng, the yellowish red radiance of the rising sun is a wonderful spectacle.
After the golden sunrise, which lasts about 20 -30 minutes, visitors can still enjoy the second phase, known as the silver sunrise.
As a hilly zone formed out of millions of years of volcanic activity, Dieng is also naturally endowed with a lake called Telaga Warna -- named after the different colors it reflects as rays of sunlight pour over its surface.
Nia realized the museum could not yet supply all data on Dieng, yet it would hopefully serve as a center for primary sources of information on this archeological site, which is situated in two regencies, Banjarnegara and Wonosobo.
"So far Dieng has remained a site of mystery, with very little scientific data available amid numerous myths circulating in society," she said.
Kailasa museum, named after Shiva's heavenly home, is compiling the history of Dieng from the beginning of the temple zone to the growth of civilization of Dieng people.
The museum also presents the geological aspect of the plateau's formation as well as the endemic vegetation and wildlife of Dieng, where the originally 40 species, including Java's eagles, have been reduced to 19 as their habitat is lost.
The local people's perseverance as a farming community and their cultural life are well represented in the museum, in addition to a display of scattered statues found on the site in accordance with the chronicle of Dieng.
The museum also chronicles the history of Dieng's early period and its further developments in a 35-minute film.
Minister of Culture and Tourism Jero Wacik, who officially opened Kailasa Museum on July 28, said this museum collected statues and artifacts of very high value and significance in Dieng.
By further expounding on the significance of the findings, he hoped the public would form a positive attitude toward the preservation and utilization of the cultural heritage, historic site and zone while the Dieng community could actively participate in this effort.
In fact, according to Jero Wacik, Dieng is an attractive tourist destination. Apart from its gorgeous hilly areas, the cool climate of Dieng can offer an ideal place for tourists who are on their honeymoon.
"This highland can be a special place for honeymooners. Dieng only lacks promotion so it is less familiar to people from other regions," he said.
Banjarnegara Regent Djasri said his administration was also working to improve the attractiveness of Dieng, as well as Wonosobo regency and Central Java province, as an archeological site.
Under this cooperation, local guides have been made available to provide more accurate information for visitors to Dieng.
The main problem facing the site today is the widespread conversion of forestland into potato plantations. The crop has even covered an area only dozens of meters away from Dieng's temple site.
"We are now regularly replanting the forest to restore the natural harmony of Dieng," Djasri said.
To prevent the further spread of potatoes, the regency is boosting strawberry planting, which is seen as economically no less profitable.
"Without any alternative, it is difficult to halt the expansion of potato plantations because the crop has become a source of living for part of the community," he said.
The greening of Dieng is also underway in Wonosobo regency, which launched its Wonosobo Planting Movement in 2007.