Ranu Kumbolo, The Sacred Jewel of East Java

As the specators gather around the lake, the sun begins to rise in the middle, right behind the V shaped-hills, making the sunrise experience in Ranu Kumbolo is something you’ve never seen before. This place wouldn’t let anybody down, on a bright or a foggy day. Even if you have the shittiest low-resolution camera,  the result is always amazing.

21_FujiFilmKlasse_Fomapan100_PyrocatMC_Semeru_August2015Located at 2400 masl, Ranu Kumbolo (Ranu means lake) is like an oasis in the middle of the desert. It’s part of Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park (BTS) and one of the two main campsites for those who wants to summit Semeru, the highest mountain in Java.  Approximately 80.000 people visit Semeru each year and probably all of them come to Ranu Kumbolo but not everyone proceed to the next campsite at Kalimati. Most of them just want to enjoy this magical lake. At the peak of the dry season, the temperature could drop as low as -200C.

According to Hindu belief, mount Semeru is home of the gods and Ranu Kumbolo is their sacred bath.  In ancient Java, around 12th century, when Hindu Kingdoms still ruled the country, Ranu Kumbolo and Semeru were the two holiest places where kings and priests went to meditate, they were probably the only people that allowed to hike this sacred mountain on a special occasion called Tirthrayata or the holy walk. The water from Ranu Kumbolo was considered so divine that it was only taken during special occasions. Today we can see the inscription from a stone at Ranu Kumbolo marked the journey of King Kameswara ( ruled in 1180-1190 AD) to the peak of Semeru and Ranu Kumbolo.

I don’t have the slightest idea how people in the old days managed to navigate through thick dense forest nine centuries ago without navigation tools and how to remain warm with ancient clothing. They probably didn’t know three-layering system did they? And I’m sure as hell there wasn’t any goosedown jacket available on the outdoor store to keep body temperature warm in a sub-zero temperature.

But Ranu Kumbolo don’t change. It’s still there, surviving the ancient times, providing water for those in need and will survive many millenias together with the mountain, outlasting all of us. Or… not, if we evolve into super-intelligent species and become biologically immortal like…. the jellyfish.

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Ranu Kumbolo, taken from the northeast side of the lake
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Ranu Kumbolo main campsite
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Tanjakan cinta (literally translation: Love Climbs)

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