Saturday, 6 November 2010

THE FIERY MOUNTAIN (MERAPI): Before and After

MERAPI AND ITS SURROUNDING BEFORE THE 2010 ERUPTIONS:

Kaliadem or Cool River at Kepuharjo Village, Cangkringan District
before the eruption of Mount Merapi. Source: wordpress.com

Cangkringan. Source: slametismulyanto.blogspot.com

Cangkringan and kaliadem. Source: wisata.kompasiana.com

Merapi is Java’s most potent mystical symbols of life and is truly one of the world’s most beautiful mountains. It was revered understandably for centuries as a spectacular sight no matter how many time one sees it. For a break from punishing tropical heat of Yogya, race up to the quiet highland resort of Kaliurang only one our by car on good road., refreshingly cool, one can easily spend several days here relaxing.
Merapi Trekking
There are at least three good tracks for climbing the Merapi. They are:
* The Kaliadem/Kinahrejo track on the southern side
* The Babadan track on the western side
* The Selo track on the northern side.
The Selo track is regarded as the easiest and safest, certainly the most suitable or beginner climbers. Those with experience in climbing will need about four to five hours to reach the summit.

If we want to enjoy sunrise from the peak, it is recommended we start our scent at about 1 a.m. People using the Selo track for this can spend the night before at lalangan village or Blumbangsari village, where residents rent their rooms and can provide guides for the climbers.
The Babadan track is the most direct of the three, but is not usually recommended,mainly because most of Merapi’s volcanic activity over the last decade as taken place on this side of the mountain.
The top of the volcano can be observed from a distance from Turi Village, Sleman. For a better view, a visit to Plawangan, the observatory resort, can be reached by walking up a pathway from Kaliurang for about an hour. In the observatory resort, visitor can use a binocular to observe the top of the volcano. The best time to elish the beauty of Merapi is approximately around the sunrise moment, at six to e ight in the morning. Another place for a better view, is Ketep Pass. It’s ocated on Magelang Regency, where Borobudur is also located.

Borobudur temple built in the eighth century by the Cailendra dynasty, is believed to have been derived from the Sanskrit words “Vihara Buddha Uhr” the Buddhist Monastery on the hill. A main dome is located at the center of the top platform, and is surrounded by seventy-two Buddha statues seated inside perforated stupa. The monument is both a shrine to the Lord Buddha and a place for Buddhist pilgrimage. The journey for pilgrims begins at the base of the monument and follows a path circum-ambulating the monument while ascending to the top through the three levels of Buddhist cosmology, namely, Kamadhatu (the world of desire); Rupadhatu (the world of forms); and Arupadhatu (the world of formless). Borobudur contains approximately 2,670 individual bas reliefs (1,460 narrative and 1,212 decorative panels), which cover the facades and balustrades. The total relief surface is 2,500 square meters (26,909.8 sq ft) and they are distributed at the hidden foot (Kamadhatu) and the five square platforms (Rupadhatu).
The Borobudur was in danger of collapsing as its stone statues and stone cancer, moss and lichen affected bas-reliefs. But, the monument has been completely restored and was officially opened by the President on 23rd February 1983. The restoration took eight years to complete, funded by the Government of Indonesia with aid from the UNESCO and donations from private citizens as well as from foreign governments. 

Another famous temple between Merapi and Yogyakarta is Prambanan. The Prambanan temple is the biggest and the most beautiful Hindu's temple. Located 17 kilometers east of Yogyakarta, locally known as the Loro Jongrang temple, or the temple of the “Slender Virgin” it is reputed to be the biggest and most beautiful Hindu Temple in Indonesia. The temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The popular legend of Lara Jonggrang is what connects the site of the Ratu Boko Palace, the origin of the Durga statue in northern cell/chamber of the main shrine, and the origin of the Sewu temple complex nearby. The legend tells of the story about Prince Bandung Bondowoso who fell in love with Princess Lara Jonggrang, the daughter of King Boko. But the princess rejected his proposal of marriage because Bandung Bondowoso had killed King Boko and ruled her kingdom. Bandung Bondowoso insisted on the union, and finally Lara Jonggrang was forced to agree for a union in marriage, but she posed one impossible condition: Bandung must build her a thousand temples in only one night.
The Prince entered into meditation and conjured up a multitude of spirits (demons) from the earth. Helped by supernatural beings, he succeeded in building 999 temples. When the prince was about to complete the condition, the princess woke her palace maids and ordered the women of the village to begin pounding rice and set a fire in the east of the temple, attempting to make the prince and the spirits believe that the sun was about to rise. As the cocks began to crow, fooled by the light and the sounds of morning time, the supernatural helpers fled back into the ground. The prince was furious about the trick and in revenge he cursed Lara Jonggrang to stone. She became the last and the most beautiful of the thousand statues. According to the traditions, the unfinished thousandth temple created by the demons become the Sewu temple compounds nearby (Sewu means “thousands” in Javanese), and the Princess is the image of Durga in the north cell of the Shiva temple at Prambanan, which is still known as Lara Jonggrang or Slender Virgin.


MERAPI AFTER THE 2010 ERUPTIONS
As Quoted from sources : AP and Kompas.com

Indonesia, a vast archipelago of 235 million people, is prone to earthquakes and volcanoes because it sits along the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” a horseshoe-shaped string of faults that lines the Pacific Ocean.

While Friday’s 5 November 2010 explosion was the largest in volume in a century. An eruption at Merapi in 1930 killed many more — 1,300. (Note: Some data range between 1000-2000 casualties)  Even that toll pales in comparison to other volcanoes in the region: Indonesia’s Krakatoa killed at least 36,000 people in 1883, in an eruption that could be heard 2,000 miles (3,200 kilometers) away and blackened skies region-wide for months.
When the Philippines’ Mount Pinatubo exploded in 1991 after a 500-year slumber, about 800 people died as the billions of tons of volcanic debris poured from the cone, erasing entire farm communities and altering the world’s climate.  The May 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens caused the volcano’s north flank to collapse, triggering the largest landslide ever recorded. The blast killed 57 people, flattened 230 square miles (596 square kilometers) of forests and blew 1,300 feet (400 meters) off the peak. 

 Wedus Gembel or shipgoat cloud, view from Umbul Harjo village,  
Cangkringan sub district of Sleman DIY. Source: dtjakarta.or.id

Merapi’s latest round of eruptions began Oct. 26, followed by more than a dozen other powerful blasts and thousands of tremors.  With each new eruption, scientists and officials have steadily pushed the villagers who live along Merapi’s fertile slopes farther from the crater.
But after initially predicting earlier eruptions would ease pressure under the magma dome, experts who have spent a lifetime studying the volcano now say the don’t know what to expect. Scientists can study the patterns of volcanoes, but their eruptions are essentially unpredictable, as Merapi’s  increasingly intense blasts have proved.
On Friday, the towering plumes of ash rained dust on windshields of cars 300 miles (480 kilometers) away, although a rain near the mountain in the afternoon turned much of it to sludge. Bursts of hot clouds occasionally interrupted aid efforts, with rescuers screaming, “Watch out! Hot cloud!”

The eruption released 1,765 million cubic feet (50 million cubic meters) of volcanic material, making it the biggest in at least a century as plumes of smoke continued to shoot up more than 30,000 feet (10,000 meters). 
Soldiers pulled at least 78 bodies from homes and streets blanketed by ash up to a foot (30 centimeters) deep Friday, raising the overall toll to 122, according to the National Disaster Management Agency.
With bodies found in front of houses and in streets, it appeared that many of the villagers died from the blistering gas while trying to escape.
The 1,400-degree Fahrenheit (750-degree Celsius) heat — were carried away on stretchers following the first big explosion just before midnight. More than 150 injured people — with burns, respiratory problems, broken bones and cuts — waited to be treated at the tiny Sardjito hospital in Yogyakarta where the bodies piled up in its morgue, and two other hospitals.

 Evacuation process. Source: Kompas.com

 15.000 evacuees refuge at Maguharjo sport stadium as a shelter. Source : TVone.com

For several days Borobudur are closed to visitors as the ashes covered the whole compound up to 3 cm thick; and today 6 November 2010, all airports in Java island included Jakarta airport are forced to close for several hours due to volcanic dust that has scattered all over the sky.


Cangkringan, Sleman turned into ashes, while the rescue team keep on searching for the victims

The slopes of beautiful Merapi is now turned into ashes and mud, and no experts could predict when the fiery mountain eruptions would stop.

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