A volcanic trail of Bandung – Tangkuban Perahu and Kawah Putih

Bandung volcano tour

The weather changes – from bright sunshine to a dull grey as the gentle breeze turns a bit nippy. Looking out of my window from the bus, I see a dusty town lost in a deep stupor as we drive along. I am on a road trip in Indonesia and on our agenda is a Bandung volcano tour. Bandung is the third largest city in Indonesia and the capital of West Java. My guide wakes us from our slumber with a short introduction to  Bandung, the town which was originally a plantation town set up by the Dutch more than 300 years ago.  As he speaks, the road takes us up the hills and tea plantations carpet the slopes which sometimes morph into unkempt coffee plantations. It gets a bit cooler as we head towards our destination – an active volcano that erupted early this year that goes by the name of Tangkuban Perahu.

Indonesia, Bandung, Tangkuban Perahu, volcano, Bandung volcano tour

Crater of Tangkuban Perahu

It lies there  still as a painting. Still and silent. It seems like an artist had dipped his brush in shades of grey and painted the entire canvas with bold strokes. The sky is colourless and the mountain stands against it, dark and ominous. The ashy white crater lies in the centre with wisps of sulphur floating in the air.  I stand there and wonder how a silent lifeless mountain can suddenly erupt spewing fire and flooding the entire landscape with its anger.

Bandung, Tangkuban Perahu, Bandung volcano tour

Tangkuban Perahu means inverted boat and there is a legend behind it

But today, it is just another tourist spot. Vendors surround us. Locals find this their weekend getaway. I walk down and see an entire market has come up with local souvenirs and street food being sold everywhere. Children are running around like they would do in a picnic spot. An old lady stands there, smiling toothlessly at us as we take her picture.

Bandung, Tangkuban Perahu, Bandung volcano tour

A town sprouts up like a tourist centre

The Legend of Tangkuban Perahu

A Bandung volcano tour comes with its own stories . There is an ancient Sundanese legend behind it, says my guide adding that Tangkuban Perahu means inverted boat. ” Look closely and the mountain looks like a boat turned upside down. ” I want to hear the story which tells you the story of a jilted lover who created this volcano.  Dayang Sumbi was one of the beautiful ladies who was blessed by the gods with eternal youth and was wooed by a young man called Sangkuriang . Just as they were planning to get married, Dayang Sumbi realized that he was her son, whom she had cast away when he was a child.  Sangkuriang, who apparently had a head injury as a child  could not recognise her and had forgotten all about his childhood.

Bandung, Tangkuban Perahu, crater, Bandung volcano tour

A lone flower blooms ana fades away in this atmosphere

Dayang Sumbi decided to find ways to call off the wedding. She asked him to create a huge lake and then a dam and a boat to cross over the lake before dawn. As Sangkuriang almost completed the task,  Dayang Sumbi created an illusion of day break. As the roosters called out, Sangkuriang in frustration kicked the boat which apparently turned upside down and became the mountain, Tangkuban Perahu.

Kawah Putih, crater lake, Bandung, Bandung volcano tour

Crater lake – Kawah Putih

Kawah Putih lake

I leave the Freudian tale behind me and head to the next destination on our Bandung volcano tour- Kawah Putih, one of the two craters of Mount Patuha. Eerie, that is how I feel the moment I step in here. The lake tinged in shades of green and blue keeps changing colours. The land around it is whitish with hues of pale yellow and beige. Dry twigs and dead trees lie on the banks. The crater lake reeks of acid as sulphur fills the air.

Kawah Putih, Bandung volcano tour

Kawah Putih is so acidic that nothing survives

The silence gets to me.  Unlike Tangkuban Perahu which is thronged with people, Kawah Putih lake is virtually empty but for us.  I cant see any birds but the guide tells me that the forests surrounding the lake is filled with them, although none of them fly over the crater . Nothing apparently survives the acidic environment of Kawah Putih – according to the guide, even the birds flying up in the sky just drop down dead.  Legends of supernatural elements and mysterious events in the forests circulate. I look up at the mountains and the crater once again as the light fades and the curtain of gloom seems to fall on it. It is strangely haunting and alluring at the same time . I shiver a bit, as a voice comes from behind – a fellow travel blogger telling me , ” You should do a real haunted tour in Bandung – even I was possessed and had to be exorcised later. ”

Have you been on a Bandung volcano tour ? Any other places that you would like to recommend ?

Five things to do in Indonesia – Travel With Lakshmi

If you are planning a visit then here is my video on Five things to do in Indonesia on my Youtube channel, Travel With Lakshmi. If you like my video, request you to subscribe to my channel.

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  1. Mahendran 3 December, 2015 at 20:12 Reply

    Words cannot describe the grandest things in nature. Silently, gradually and continuously Mother Nature paints Herself in such glorious colors. I am completely lost in these marvelous display of pristine beauty. Little man prides himself with countless possessions, yet Mother Nature possesses all, but still remain ever humble. Thank you for sharing all these wonders here.

  2. Jo 18 October, 2017 at 23:19 Reply

    OMG I love Bandung – Just noticed you have visited these spots already. How did you like the stunning white crater lake and volcano? It used to be a nice weekend getaway for us!

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