Padang Hill: Southeast Asia's largest megalithic site

The Jakarta Globe features Padang Hill in West Java, a 900m high hill that is home to the largest concentration of megaliths found in Southeast Asia. Looks interesting – must add this to my to-visit list.

The Padang Stones: A Megalithic Mystery
Jakarta Globe, 18 Feb 2009

The word padang, in the language of the Sundanese people of West Java Province, translates as bright. One explanation for the name’s origin is a legend about a king named Prabu Siliwangi, who wanted to build a temple on top of the hill in a single night. At the break of dawn, when he realized the temple was not yet complete, the king told his men to topple the whole construction. That’s why there are standing stones atop the hill, some people say.

Arriving at the top of the hill was like being transported to another world. Thousands of black stone blocks, all partially covered by lichen, were planted, piled up, arranged and scattered on the grassy ground. All around us were the green hills and valleys of West Java, while the white clouds that hovered high above moved at great speed, propelled by the strong wind. The blocks, of around one to two meters in length, seemed to be the ruins of an ancient building. The rectangular site is 900 square meters in area and consists of five levels that ascend from northwest to southeast. At certain parts, the blocks form chambers and small flights of stairs.

According to Hasan Jafar, another archeologist from the University of Indonesia, and Bambang Setiabudi, an architectural historian from the Bandung Institute of Technology, the site can be categorized as a punden berundak, or an ascending place of worship. That conclusion was based merely on the principle that holy places in Indonesia tend to be placed on high ground.


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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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