sign in a cave in Laos

23 January 2011

Karst Musuem, Java, Indonesia

In 2010 Indonesia opened the karst museum, which is the only one of its kind in Southeast Asia. It is centred around the Gunung Sewu karst in Java. Gunung Sewu or Thousand Hills, is well known amongst cavers and karst scientists. There are hundreds of cockpit karst hills, covering an area of about 1300 km2, which stretches 85 km from west to east and between 10 and 29 km north to south.

The museum is situated at Gebangharjo, south of Yogyakarta, and is located on 29 hectares of karst. The building is quite a strange design resembling a small pyramid on a large base, but we were given an explanation about the architecture. The main inspiration came from Indonesian temples. Although Indonesia is a Muslim country, other religions are practised in the country. So the museum was designed on different temples, religions and cultures.

The shape of the exterior of the building comes from famous Hindu and Buddhist temples in Indonesia. In the surrounding area they are in the process of building a Bali temple, a Buddhist temple, a Chinese temple and a church. There is already a mosque at the museum. It is good to see that a Muslim country is willing to embrace other religions so openly.

The displays are on 2 floors, covering karst for life and karst for science. The exhibits are well designed, and bright and informative.
Don't touch the stal!
Good signposting, easy to follow

We were told the information was prepared by Indonesians. Indonesia has a strong network of karst scientists and also cavers, and there are many caving clubs, which is rare in Southeast Asia.

The displays are in Indonesian and English language. Many examples of types of karst are shown, both from Indonesia and also worldwide. There are features on geology, types of rock etc, and everything you would expect, such as archaeology, biospeleology, use of caves, etc.
The cave looks real. Hippos -

The Indonesians have done a great job setting up with museum, with a wide range of information displayed in a pleasing way. I hope it will attract an increasing number of visitors, both locals and foreigners.

There are some caves in the area -

We went to one cave, Sodong Cave

Cute bus in the car park

Google Earth image of the Gunung Sewu karst

© Liz Price
No reproduction without permission