Gunung Malabar Nature Reserve

Gunung Malabar Nature Reserve

Gunung Malabar, Gunung Malabar Nature Reserve, Cagar Alam

Malabar Tea Estate is a very small, 8 ha., nature reserve and tea estate located at the slopes of Gunung Malabar amidst beautiful scenery. The site was founded as an honour to K.A.R. Bosscha, the founder of the tea estate.
You can visit the estate, both arranged or on your own, from Bandung. Lodging in the Guesthouse Malabar and permits can be arranged at the state-owned PT. Perkebonan XIII.
* Malabar Tea Estate
o Guesthouse Malabar
* Bandung
o Many possibilities
PT. Perkebonan XIII, Jl. Ir. H. Juanda 107, Bandung. PHPA, Jl. Jend. A.Yani 276, Bandung.

Mountain Malabar
The first thing you see upon entering the Cisangkuy Valley from the north is Mt. Malabar. The name alone conveys something exotic; in fact, it’s quite possible that the mountain is named after the Malabar coast in India; since West Java was one of the strongholds of Indian Hindu culture, this would not be surprising. It’s a magnificent work of nature at more than 2,300 m above sea level. Dominating the Bandung skyline, Mt. Malabar is the mountain you see from Bandung’s northern hills. The huge explosion crater which opens to the northwest tells you that here is still another of West Java’s old volcano family.
Follow the directions above to Banjaran. 5 km after Banjaran there is another turnoff to the left which takes you to a camping ground much frequented by Indonesians. This narrow but well-surfaced road winds higher and higher through the rice terraces, with beautiful vistas of the Bandung Basin.

The camping ground near where the old tea plantation used to be is also a starting point for some good hikes, for example to a waterfall a little farther up. Ambitious souls might consider an assault on the summit of Mt. Malabar, which, however, is anything but easy and should be carefully planned. Afternoon rains are more common here than in Bandung, so do take that into consideration.

The huge cleft in the mountain flank in front of you originates from a pre-historic eruption. This was also once the location of the world-famous transmitter station Radio Malabar. In those days no other colony of such economic importance was so far away from its “motherland” as was the Dutch East Indies. Thus, the Dutch made a prodigious effort to install Ruins eerily overgrown with ferns and pine trees are all that remain of the old Malabar Tea Plantation. a radio station that would allow direct communication between Holland and Java.

After Marconi first succeeded in sending radio signals across the Atlantic Ocean in 1906, the technology was quickly refined and inter-continental radio communication became possible. For the Dutch project, huge wire antennas had to be hung between two mountain peaks. The huge cleft on the flank of Mt. Malabar provided ideal natural conditions for such a facility; the antennas could hang right across the ravine, the Lamajan hydro-electric power station a little farther up the valley provided the electricity to transmit, and the whole thing was not too far away from Bandung. On 5 May 1923 Radio Malabar went on the air with the most powerful transmitter in the world (up to 1,800 kW). A telecommunication link with Holland, 12,000 km away, had been established. When Dutch rule collapsed, the facility deteriorated, never to be restored. The foundations of the antenna poles are supposedly still somewhere in the jungle.

Dilapidated, too, are the houses that were once the residences of the tea plantation’s managerial staff. These are located on the western slope of the mountain at 1,300 m, some 35 km, or about one hour’s drive, from Bandung. Eerily overgrown with a strange-looking mixture of pine trees and huge tropical ferns, they are still marked with the names of the former occupants, mainly Dutch and Chinese. A bit farther up are the remains of a swimming pool filled with water diverted from the river and full of silt. It must have been a lovely if somewhat chilly place to swim. This is all that remains of the old colonial facilities. Nowadays, there are some food stalls, a tennis court, an information kiosk (probably not open when you are there), and a number of inviting trails up into the forest.

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