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Jakarta Post

SBY visits '€˜sacred'€™ megalithic site

SBY visits '€˜sacred'€™ megalithic site
The Jakarta Post
Jakarta   ●   Wed, February 26, 2014

Talk from the top: President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono gives a speech after touring the Gunung Padang megalithic site in Cianjur, West Java, on Tuesday. The President and his entourage visited the site following research by a team including the President'€™s special staffer Andi Arief. Antara/Novrian Arbi

The mystery that shrouds Gunung Padang Megalithic Site seemed to attract President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who went to one of the country'€™s most-talked about tourist spots in Karyamukti village, Cianjur regency, recently.

The President, First Lady Ani Yudhoyono and their entourage arrived at the site, which is located at an elevation of 885 meters above sea level, on Tuesday noon, Antara news agency reported.

State Secretary Sudi Silalahi, Public Works Minister Djoko Kirmanto, Coordinating People'€™s Welfare Minister Agung Laksono and Cooperatives and Small and Medium Scale Enterprises Minister Syariefuddin Hasan all joined the President and his wife to climb hundreds of steep steps, which ascend five tiers.

The Mount Padang Independent and Integrated Research Team (TTPMGP) has found evidence that a structure, which dates back thousands of years, exists below the mountain.

Disaster and Social Relief Affairs presidential advisor Andi Arief, who facilitates TTPMGP, said the tiers concealed a pyramid that predated the Egyptian pyramids by more than 10,000 years.

Arief'€™s statement had caused controversy among scientists. The team is still researching the matter after local residents objected the excavation for fear that the site would be damaged.

While at the site, which measures 900 square meters, Yudhoyono said the research must be completed so it could become a complete site like Borobudur.

'€œThis is a huge undertaking and needs to be planned, budgeted and scheduled. It needs leadership and the right policy. We hope the task is finished soon,'€ Yudhoyono said as quoted by Antara.

He added that the law had given mandate to the West Java provincial administration to manage the project. '€œBut, the central government will assist,'€ said Yudhoyono.

'€œI express my highest appreciation to the tireless researchers. Many of them don'€™t believe it, some are annoyed but everyone is firm. This is a good beginning despite it being unfinished,'€ said Yudhoyono.

Yudhoyono and entourage were at the site for around three hours.

Gunung Padang has become popular with domestic tourists in recent years.

At the site'€™s information center visitors are told that the terraced site was first recorded by Dutch researcher NJ Krom in 1914 before being rediscovered by local farmers in 1979.

The geological structure of the stones is columnar jointing, each stone varies in size and is prismatic.

It is believed the site was a place to carry out rituals and the top was considered the most sacred part.

Before undertaking ritual, people would clean themselves in a pond located in the south of the site.

The West Java provincial administration has called on the Cianjur regency administration and the local community to help protect the megalithic site, especially from vandalism, as well as to attract more tourists.

Locals are very protective of the site and remind visitors not to litter or eat there.

Entry costs Rp 2,000 (17 US cents).