Sawahlunto, the Black Jewel of West Sumatra

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Sawahlunto is an appealing town in West Sumatra once renowned as the town of the ‘black jewel’ for its bountiful natural resource of coal. 

Discovered as the site exceedingly rich in coal deposits in early 19th century, according to historical record the coal mining in Sawahlunto was launched in 1888 and became famous worldwide as the Ombilin mines with many waiting ships ready to transport them to Europe.

Now Ombilin Coal Mining of Sawahlunto has inaugurated as one of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. 

Currently developing into the city of classical multi-ethnic tourists, Sawahlunto is one of the best old cities in Indonesia. The city itself is located on a highland which is part of the Bukit Barisan, the mountain range on the western side of Sumatra island.

More than quarter part of the city is a hilly area covered by forest conservatory and other part dominated by plantations. Many artificial lakes formed from ancients ex-mining excavations with the most captivating one called Danau Biru the Blue Lake.

From Padang International Airport, along the journey to Sawahlunto we will enjoy the romantic village lanes before visiting the ancient Railway Station Museum.

Exploring the Kalam tunnel with more than 800 meters with old railroad underpass used for the transportation of the fuel stones in olden days will be an exciting experience.

The best spot to watch the magnificent scene of the entire city is Puncak Cemara where we will be able to see the beautiful sights of towering hills surrounding the city and the antique buildings as the reminiscence from the glory of the mining.

A little park built on this view point with small playground for children and some gazebos where we can find long tailed monkeys Macaca fascicularis playing on the top of the roof.

Other magnificent view can be seen from Batu Runciang, a fascinating object in the Sawahlunto Geopark area with its imposing row of pointed limestone rocks and coral hills. Involving a little rock-climbing skill, the adventurous trek reaching the top of the karst will let us have the impressive experience.

In Sawahlunto region, one tradition that last beyond the black jewel history is the craft of weaving exquisite clothes called Silungkang Songket, most of which woven with silver and gold threads.

While in West Sumatra, a city tour to Padang will be delightful. Visit Adityawarman Museum with unique collection of historical relics from Minangkabau cultural heritage and nearby race-related traditional ethnics.   

Grand Mosque, the largest mosque of West Sumatera with extraordinary feature of roof shape that credit as a contemporary interpretation of Minangkabau traditional vernacular houses.

Interested to know more? Please contact [email protected]

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