Address : Sleman, Magelang, Boyolali, Klaten
Mount Merapi (2911 meters above sea level) is one of active volcanoes in Indonesia. It lies approximately 30 km north of Yogyakarta downtown and is situated at the border between Central Java and Yogyakarta provincial territories.
Mount Merapi is closely related to the myths, beliefs, and philosophy of Javanese people, especially those living around the volcano. It is illustrated by an imaginary line connecting Mount Merapi and South Sea (Indonesian Ocean) with Yogyakarta downtown as the central point. The line constitutes two philosophical aspects, namely jagat alit and jagat ageng.
Jagat alit is a process of human life since birth until death. Tugu Yogyakarta is the point where man can unite with God if he can get through a right and “straight” life. The planology of the city itself is a manifestation of this philosophy as illustrated by its streets that are stretching south-north. It also signifies that man’s life is not free from temptation of power and wealth. The temptation of power is symbolized with the Kepatihan (royal) complex, while the temptation of wealth is represented with Beringharjo market lying between the Royal Palace and Tugu.
According to Jagat ageng concept, a leader must prioritize people’s interests and listen to his conscience instead of passion for power. A leader must base his leadership on the belief in God. Meaning that any of his action must be constructed upon what is allowed or commanded and not on what is forbidden by God. Therefore, the meaning of the imaginary line is that man can get closer and unite with his God if he can interpret life’s true meaning and act in accordance with God’s commands.
There is also a myth about Mount Merapi being a kingdom of spirits. Local people believe that Mount Merapi is kept by Kiai Sapujagad, prime minister of Islamic Mataram Sultanate during the reign of Panembahan Senopati, the first sultan. However, the spirits residing in the volcano will not harm anyone as long as people can always keep and value Merapi as a living entity. As a consequence, local people perform ceremonies, such as Sedekah Gunung, Selamatan, and Labuhan, which is held annually by Keraton Yogyakarta.
Out of the philosophical interpretation which relates the volcano to South Sea and Keraton Yogyakarta, Mount Merapi is an interesting natural phenomenon. Until today, it is famous for being one of active volcanoes in Indonesia. Since erupting in 1548, the volcano has erupted 68 times. A small eruption takes place every 2-3 years and a big one every 10-15 years—the last eruption was in 2006.
Mount Merapi’s big eruptions occurred in 1006, 1786, 1822, 1872, and 1930. The 1006’s eruption was believed to be the cause of Hindu Mataram Kingdom migration to East Java. Meanwhile, the 1930’s eruption claimed 1.369 victims. Such frequency of eruptions makes the height and shape of Merapi’s peak change from time to time.
Climbing the volcano is clearly a challenge for those keen on adventure. The narrow passage through which people go up is not like other climbing tracks. The path looks like a ditch from upon the mountain. It is a rocky, steep, and prone-to-landslide track along the way. Closing to Garuda Peak, climbers must be extra careful as they are stepping on the rocks because they often slide, likely to result in a fatal accident.
Mount Merapi offers many interesting tourism objects. In the south valley, there lies Kinahrejo village which is also the starting point of the south climbing route. In the village, tourists can enjoy the beauty of natural scenery and visit Tuk Pitu (the seven springs). Moreover, tourists can also meet Mbah Marijan, the custodian of Merapi.
Other objects to visit are Kaliurang, Kalikuning, Kaliadem, and Merapi Volcano National Park, which is a natural conservation. The area’s cool air and breathtaking scenery will give tourists real refreshment after being held up by daily routines.
Administratively, Mount Merapi sits in Sleman Regency, DI Yogyakarta Province and also in Magelang Regency, Boyolali Regency, Klaten Regency, Central Java Province.
There are several climbing routes with different difficulty levels and distances.
The first is the south route of Mount Merapi, passing Kinahrejo Village. This route can be said to be the gate of Mount Merapi. The climbing post is at Mbah Marijan’s house. It takes climbers around 6-7 hours to get to the peak through this route. Climbers going through this route will face a relatively hard track since the start with an inclination of 30-34 degrees. Rookies had better avoid this route due to its level of difficulties.
To get to Kinahrejo, tourists can take a public transport of Yogyakarta-Kaliurang route. From Kaliurang, tourists can get to Kinahrejo on foot.
The second route is Jalur Selo at the north valley. This route fits beginner climbers because the track is comparably easy. The route starts from a climbing post, which is usually also climbers’ base camp, in Plalangan, Lencoh Village. The place can be reached from Solo, from which tourists can take a bus heading for Semarang. Getting off at Boyolali, tourists must change buses to Selo and stop at Selo Market fork. From there, it is only 1 km away to the climbing post so tourists can get there on foot. It is important to notice though, that there will be no minibus to Selo after 05.00 p.m. West Indonesian Standard Time.
To climb Merapi Volcano, tourists only have to write down their identity in the guest book and pay Rp 3.000,00 each person at the climbing post.
F. Accommodations and Other Facilities
Around Kaliurang tourism area, there are hotels and inns of various tariffs. There are also small restaurants offering different kinds of food. Moreover, climbers can use the climbing posts, either the one in Kinahrejo or in Plalangan, to take a rest before or after climbing. Climbers can even stay over here. In each posts, there are guides to take tourists to the volcano peak. Some of them work also as Search and Rescue (SAR) staff.
Usually, the climbing posts provide food and drinks at relatively low prices. There are young people living around the posts that sell souvenirs such as stickers, T-shirts, keychain, and other items. Before climbing, climbers must carry enough water because it is difficult to find it in Merapi valley.
Text: Mujibur Rohman
Photo: Collection of Jogjatrip.com
Translation: Reza Daffi
(Primary data and various sources)