Mount Bromo: Dangerously Beautiful

One of the most breathtaking views of Indonesia is Mount Bromo (2,329 meters) in East Java. Located in the Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park, Mount Bromo is easily reachable by 4WD vehicles from the nearby villages of Cemoro Lawang, Ngadisari, and Tosari. The main attraction is at sunrise where tourists go to the peak of Penanjakan Hill which overlooks the caldera surrounding Bromo. We usually start the journey at 4AM from Cemoro Lawang and drive through the dark caldera to Penanjakan. After observing the sunrise we would once again go down to the caldera before walking (or riding the horse) to the wall of the crater. The final leg involves walking up the 144-stairs to the crater. My last journey was the most difficult one, possibly due to lack of warming-up and weight-gaining. 😀 It was a worthwhile experience, though. However things changed lately since it began to erupt.

On November 23, 2010 at 16.30 Western Indonesian Times, Mount Bromo erupted and pushed volcanic materials out of its majestic crater. This prompted the Indonesian Center of Volcanology and Geology Disaster Mitigation to increase the observation status to “Alert.” However no evacuation order was issued due to its relatively stable condition. Although the volcano keeps spewing ash, its non-explosive nature did not prompt the residents to evacuate and we can still observe the eruption within the safe distance on nearby hills serving as the guardian wall of the caldera. Nevertheless the government still takes preventive actions by setting up emergency camps for refugees and allocating resources in case the situation worsens. Currently the 3-kilometer radius from the crater is off limits to residents and tourists.

Although this display does not affect the residents so far apart from thin ash covering their houses, Mount Bromo causes major disruption in tourist arrivals to the area where some hotels even record zero occupation. The Abdulrachman Saleh Airport in the nearby city of Malang is also closed for traffic until at least December 4 due to volcanic cloud that is flying toward the city.

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It is interesting to note that the residents around Bromo has a distinctive Hindu charasteristic. Tenggerese people are descendents of the ancient Majapahit kingdom from the 9th century and its population of 600,000 is mainly concentrated around Bromo. Serving as the enclave of Hindu people in the predominantly Muslim population of East Java, we will notice the striking difference if we travel upward to the village of Cemoro Lawang. Hindu houses and villages, along with their counterparts in Bali, boast entrance gates and shrines in every front yard and their houses are predominantly painted in white color. For more reading on Tenggerese people, go to Wikipedia.

I hope that the eruption will subside soon so that we can visit the crater again and admire its beautiful panorama.

Mount Bromo spewing hot ash; the one on the right is Mount Batok

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Image’s source: Aloysius B. Kurniawan (Kompas.com)

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