Surrounded by green fertile mountains, Bandung today is Indonesia’s center for learning and creativity. Here is the well-known, Institut Tekonologi Bandung (ITB) established since 1920, the university that has produced many of Indonesia’s top scientists from engineers, geologists to leaders in business management. Today Bandung is one of Indonesia’s most prestigeous university towns. Bandung is also the center of Indonesia’s burgeoning ICT technology, at the same time it is a center of arts and artists. Every weekend and long holidays the city is filled with young people from Jakarta who flock to Bandung to enjoy its youthful creative atmosphere in music, painting, fashion, and the culinary arts.
Originally established in the late 19th century as a colonial garrison town, Bandung soon grew into a town for wealthy planters who owned the miles and miles of tea, coffee and cinchona plantations, fruit orchards and vegetable gardens in the cool and fertile hills of West Java. Bandung thus became the town of the European elite. And since this was the era of art deco, Bandung has a rich heritage of buildings in examplary art deco architecture. They include the beautiful Villa Isola, – now housing the University for Education-, the Concordia, the present Asian-African Museum, which was then the Society’s Clubhouse- , the main Braga shopping center, where the Dutch colonial elite went to shop, and the Savoy-Homann and Preanger hotels, where they would overnight and hold grand balls.
While along the present Jalan Juanda, then known as Dago Boulevard, were the houses of the elite with their green lawns and flower gardens fronting opulent homes. In those colonial heydays in the early 20th century, Bandung became known as “Parijs van Java”, or the Paris of Java, where Dutch planters and ladies paraded and flaunted their wealth and beauty along the boulevards and Bragaweg, then the Champs Elysees of the East.
Today, Bandung is remembered in history internationally as the venue of the First Asian-African Conference held in 1955 which brought together for the first time, leaders of 29 Asian and African countries, who declared to jointly fight colonialism for national independence. Attending the Conference were noted national leaders, among whom, Jawaharlal Nehru and daughter Indira Gandhi of India, Chao En Lai of China, Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, Prince Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia and Indonesia’s own President Soekarno. The Asian-African Conference became the precursor of the Non-Alighned Movement.
Later Bandung also became the center for textile mills producing much of Indonesia’s textiles for fashion wear, linen and upholstery.
Standing some 768 m above sea level, Bandung is today the country’s third largest city after Jakarta and Surabaya. Since the opening of the Cipularang Toll road, which cuts down travel from Jakarta to two hours from the previous four hours over the tortuous Puncak Pass, Bandung has become the favourite weekend getaway to relax and escape from the hectic pace of metropolitan Jakarta.
For Bandung offers trendy fashion wear at reasonable prices at its myriad factory outlets, a wide range of delicious local and international cuisines, and a distinct colonial European-style atmosphere combined with captivating traditional arts.