The Jakarta Post
Fort Marlborough in Bengkulu province, built between 1713 and 1719 by the British East India Company. (Shutterstock/sofirinaja)
Apart from being famous for its rare Titan Arum flower, Bengkulu province in Sumatra, known as Bencoolen during the British East India Company era, is also rich in historical tourist attractions.
Acting governor of Bengkulu, Rohidin Mersyah, told kompas.com during the Tabot Festival press conference in the Tourism Ministry on Wednesday that historical tourism in Bengkulu had potential but it hasn’t been well packaged.
Tabot is an annual festival held in conjunction with Islamic New Year, which this year takes place on Sept. 11.
“There are many important historical destinations, and now we will present them in festivals, films and others to attract visitors,” said Rohidin.
He went on to list four of the most popular and potential historical destinations, provided below.
This fort is said to have been built from 1714 to 1719 by the British East India Company during the reign of governor Joseph Collett. It is located by the Indian Ocean, facing south. The 44,100-square-meter fort still looks strong and well maintained, surrounded by a moat.
Bung Karno’s house
Indonesia’s first president, Soekarno, also known as Bung Karno, was sent to exile in this house in Anggut hamlet, Ratu Samban village, Bengkulu. He was transferred to Bengkulu from his previous place of exile in Ende, Flores.
The house, once owned by a Chinese merchant named Tjang Tjeng Kwat, is now a historical tourist destination. Its furnishings are still well kept, including a mattress, a table, a chair and a bicycle. Rumor has it that the infamous love triangle between Bung Karno, his former wife Inggit Garnasih and first lady Fatmawati began in this house.
The late first lady’s old house is a traditional stilt house with Malay-style carved ornaments. It is of medium size, equipped with a porch, living room, two bedrooms and a bathroom. Photos of Fatmawati with Bung Karno and their children are displayed in the living room.
Another artifact to see in the house is the sewing machine used by the first lady to sew Indonesia’s first red-and-white flag from two shawls.
Jitra British Memorial Park
Situated close to Fort Marlborough and Lapangan Merdeka (Independence Square) is a memorial park of the British from the 18th century British East India Company era at Jitra hamlet, Teluk Segara village, in Bengkulu. There used to be more than 100 graves in park, but due to development in the surrounding area, only 53 graves are left.
Rohidin said descendants of the British people laid to rest in Jitra still come to pay tribute every year. (mut)