Ancient wonders

Indonesia has no shortage of man-made and natural historical sites. Add these Unesco World Heritage Sites to your bucket list

By Compiled by Nisthula Nagarajan

Published: Tue 17 Aug 2021, 12:00 AM

Komodo National Park

If you’re looking for an outdoor adventure, Komodo National Park will not disappoint. The 1.8 sq km area, located in East Nusa Tenggara, consists of three large islands, Komodo, Rinca, and Padar, and 26 smaller surrounding islands and have been a Unesco World Heritage Site since 1991. Top attractions include snorkelling and diving in the cerulean waters, hiking to the peak of Padar Island for the picturesque views of the bays, relaxing on the pink beaches, and of course, seeing the superstars of the islands, the carnivorous Komodo dragons. If observing the dragons up close is high on your must-do list, then visit the Komodo and/or Rinca Islands. Most tourists head here for one to two days with boat/hotel stay and conquer all the activities.

Subak Bali Cultural Landscape

Rice is an integral component of Balinese cuisine. As you explore the famed vacation island, you’ll notice the beautiful cascading rice terraces along the side of the roads. It takes an efficient water irrigation system of canals and tunnels that connects over 19,500 hectares to keep the luscious rice terraces green, thus, the Unesco’s recognition of the Subak System in 2012. It is one of the most famous agricultural phenomenons in the world coming from a community organisation that specifically regulates the irrigation system of rice fields in Bali. It has even been studied by anthropologists from the US. Subak generally has a temple called Pura Uluncarik or Pura Bedugul, specifically built for the goddess of prosperity and fertility. The subak is based on the ‘Tri Hita Karana’ philosophy, which brings harmony with God, people, and the environment. Farmers have used this system for 1,000 years. Check out the famous Jatiluwih rice terraces. Follow the walking paths to talk with locals to learn more about the fields and the history of the area.


Ombilin Coal Mining Heritage

As the newest Unesco Indonesia site, the Ombilin Coal Mining is located in Sawahlunto, West Sumatra. It holds the title of the oldest coal mine in Southeast Asia. Built for the extraction, processing and transport of high-quality coal in an inaccessible region of Sumatra, the Dutch started coal production here in 1892 during the monumental period of industrialisation. The area has the mining site and company town, coal storage facilities at the Port of Teluk Bayur and the railway network linking the mines to the coastal facilities. Visit the Ombilin Coal Mining Museum to learn about the company’s history and the cool tools used in the mines. Also, see the former mining site where original buildings still stand such as the Mbah Soero tunnel, housing for the workers, government buildings, etc. It is around three hours from the capital, Pedang.


Prambanan Temple

Learn about the legend of the Prambanan Temple, which is a ninth-century Hindu temple located nearby the Borobudur outside Yogyakarta in Java, Indonesia. The temple is dedicated to three gods who are known as the creator, the preserver, and the transformer. The complex was originally made up of hundreds of temples and was confirmed as Unesco World Heritage Site in 1991. The architecture is slender and tall imitating Hindu architecture while Hindu mythology stories don the three main shrines. Over time, many were dismantled by locals and the stones were used to build houses and walls. With a short walk, you will be rewarded with fewer crowds at more temples such as the Ratu Boko Temple, Sewu Temple, Lumbung Temple and Bubrah Temple.


Lorentz National Park

Visiting Lorentz National Park is high on the many tourists' lists even though it’s challenging to get to. Located on Papua island on the eastern tip of Indonesia, this remote National Park is the largest protected park area at 2.35 million hectares in Southeast Asia and was recognised as a Heritage Site in 1999. Because of its large size, there are still many unexplored lands. It’s an alfresco haven with the pristine landscapes of glaciers, cascading mountains, and wildlife with 630 birds, 123 mammals and hundreds of fish species here. It is one of three regions that have glaciers in a tropical area. A challenging adventure includes climbing the Carstensz Pyramid (Puncak Jaya) to reach the highest mountain in Indonesia at an astounding 4,884 m.

Tropical Rainforest Heritage

Gunung Leuser National Park and Sembilang National Park are two of many parks that comprise the tropical rainforest in Sumatra. Gunung Leuser National Park is situated in the north of Sumatra and is surrounded by oil plantations.

The gateway to the Unesco site is a river village called Bukit Lawang which is the hub for orangutan trekking due to the Bukit Lawang Rehabilitation Centre, which takes care of orangutans displaced, injured and orphaned by deforestation.

Trek into the rainforests can be arranged starting from day visits to multiple night stays in the National Park. Due to the river running back to the village, most treks end with a fun bout of tubing. There is also a multitude of other native primates, birds, lizards, insects, and fauna to keep any animal lover happy.

Sembilang National Park is located in Musi Banyuasin Regency, South Sumatra The name of this park is taken from a species of fish, Sembilang fish, of which many is found in the area. Sembilang covers around 2,051 sq km area with landscapes that include peat swamp peat and mangrove forests and mudflats.

The national park is grounds for a myriad of migrating birds from Asia and Europe, which usually occur from October to December. During the bird migration season, this park is filled to the brim with tourists, avid ornithophiles and wildlife photographers who want to capture flocks of migratory birds here.

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