Black Jewel Town in West Sumatra

May 6, 2021

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 the early 19th century, according to historical records, 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 been inaugurated as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Currently developing in a city of classical multi-ethnic tourists, Sawahlunto is one of the best old cities in Indonesia. The city is located on a highland part of Bukit Barisan, the mountain range on the western side of Sumatra island. More than a quarter part of the city is a hilly area covered by forest conservatory, and plantations dominate other parts. Many artificial lakes formed from ancient ex-mining excavations, with the most captivating one called Danau Biru, the Blue Lake.
Along the journey to Sawahlunto, we will enjoy the romantic village lanes from Padang International Airport before visiting the ancient Railway Station Museum. Exploring the Kalam tunnel of more than 800 meters with the old railroad underpass used for the transportation of fuel stones in the olden days will be an exciting experience.
The best spot to watch the magnificent scenery of the entire city is Puncak Cemara, where we can see the beautiful sights of towering hills surrounding the town and the antique buildings as a reminiscence of the glory of the mining. A little park built on this viewpoint with a small playground for children and some gazebos where we can find long-tailed monkeys and Macaca fascicularis playing on the top of the roof.

Other magnificent views can be seen from Batu Runciang, a fascinating object in the Sawahlunto Geopark area with its imposing row of points, limestone rocks, and coral hills. Involving a little rock-climbing skill, the adventurous trek reaching the top of the karst will give us an impressive experience.
In the Sawahlunto region, one tradition that lasted beyond the black jewel history is the craft of weaving exquisite clothes called Silungkang Songket, most of which are woven with silver and gold threads.
While in West Sumatra, a city tour of Padang will be delightful. Visit Adityawarman Museum with a unique collection of historical relics from Minangkabau cultural heritage and nearby race-related traditional ethnics.
Grand Mosque is the largest mosque in West Sumatra, with the extraordinary feature of a roof shape that is credited as a contemporary interpretation of Minangkabau traditional vernacular houses.

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