Bukit Kelam, Sintang: The Enchantment of a Fallen Meteor

The appearance of Bukit Kelam in Sintang, suspected to be a meteor that fell millions of years ago.

On that afternoon, the sky radiated with brilliance, adorned by white clouds suspended in the expanse of blue. These clouds resembled angels enhancing a celestial garden. Filled with enthusiasm, I sprinted toward the direction of the ascending sun, determined not to miss the one-of-a-kind sunrise panorama that graced that particular day.

Originating from the city of Sintang in West Kalimantan, my journey followed the bypass road, traversing all the way to Hulu Kapuas. My gaze was fixed, unable to wander elsewhere. It was entranced, drawn towards a solitary mound of stones. Defiantly erect, it lay unceremoniously betwixt heaven and earth.
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Its form was truly exceptional - a lone, singular sight. An exotic spectacle indeed, with a distinct mountain presence, unaccompanied by any siblings or mirrored peaks.

As the morning sun cast a delicate mist across the land, known as Senentang - the fond moniker for the city of Sintang - a subtle radiance dispersed the darkness over Bukit Kelam. Gradually, the sky brightened, offering a cornucopia of light that refracted through the day until it gently settled on the banks of the Kapuas River.

Bukit Kelam's narrative is one of love. The tale narrates the lives of Darajuanti and Patih Loh Gender, who once inhabited this very place. Amidst the escalating turmoil within the Sintang Kingdom, Darajuanti found herself exiled, compelled to depart the realm by Abang Jubair. Thus, they both sought solace within the embrace of the monolithic hill.

From the lodgings, an early start awaited me. The sun was ascending, reminiscent of coconut trees, as our car gradually departed from Sintang city, crossing the Kapuas bridge. After a brief span, we arrived at the flat terrain, which cradled a stone hill suspected, from a scientific perspective, to be either a monolith or a meteorite, fallen eons ago.

Near the hill's base extended a level expanse, adorned with expansive and captivating emerald rice fields. Among them hung clouds tinged with hues of sky blue. A betang, known as the longhouse of Ensaid, rested nearby. This traditional settlement belonged to the Desa subgroup of Dayak people, part of the Ibanic tribes.

The traditional dwelling seamlessly merged with Bukit Kelam. Entering the village was synonymous with entering the hill's aura. Thus, in the bygone era, the Dayak village existed harmoniously within the realm of nature.

Legend has it that Bukit Kelam, now the world's largest "agate" at 990 meters in height, was once a colossal stone destined to be employed by Bujang Beji in damming the Kapuas River.

Bujang Beji's intent was rooted in envy. His rival, Temenggung Marubai, another angler, had prospered in the twin Kapuas rivers, particularly the Melawi River, by releasing small fish and only capturing the larger ones. Conversely, Bujang Beji extracted fish indiscriminately from any watercourse. Consequently, fish in the Kapuas began dwindling, prompting him to consider damming the river with massive stones.

Fastening a mammoth stone with a rope, Beji's cleverness amused the heavenly goddesses. Resultantly, the stone plunged, shattering upon land to become Bukit Kelam.

In the times of yore, legends elucidated this phenomenon. However, a more plausible theory is that Bukit Kelam is a meteorite that plummeted millions of years ago. The evidence strongly supports this, given the hill's monolithic form, epitomizing singularity.

Beyond its geological significance, the allure of Bukit Kelam goes beyond mere landscapes. This monolith holds within its stony embrace stories of legends that have shaped the narrative of the region.

Regardless, the hill's contours, positioned 20 kilometers from Sintang city, truly manifest as a singular stone mass. Such hills are seldom unaccompanied, typically accompanied by progeny peaks and slopes. At least twin summits.

The terrain surrounding the hill is similarly undulating, with traces of meteor impact causing rifts, waving, and unevenness millions of years prior. The path to and around the monolith is as rugged as the story it embodies.

In the backdrop stands Bukit Kelam, a distinctive monolith in Sintang, West Kalimantan.

Presently, Bukit Kelam radiates charm - a mesmerizing allure. Recently, accompanied by friends from CU Keling Kumang, Yohanes Rj, as well as "singers" Hetty Koes Endang and Gumelar from Jakarta, I embarked on an eco-cultural excursion. The denizens of Ensaid's betang house showcased a diverse array of cultural arts, handicrafts, weaving, and Dayak carvings.

Flora and fauna flourish there - pitcher plants, forest orchids, sun bears, and swallows. With a gradient ranging from 15 to 40 degrees, rock climbers can test their mettle ascending to the summit. Amongst its stone walls, clear water courses through crevices, quenching thirst and bestowing life. The hill isn't haunted, devoid of stories of wandering souls and tragic climbers.

As twilight befalls the landscape and insects commence their symphony, serenity envelops the atmosphere, drowning out the clamor of distant city life. At the hermitage of meditation, all needs are met, including personal reflection.

Should hunger strike, a short venture to the edge reveals a cornucopia of culinary delights. I was treated to grilled fish by John Rumpak - fresh and utterly delightful.

In the future, natural and cultural tourism will undoubtedly elevate the prominence of Bukit Kelam. Like Puncak, this area will become an urban escape. CU Keling Kumang has secured ample flat land there.

Likewise, the Diocese of Sintang has established bungalows, complete with accommodations and meeting facilities, initially intended as a retreat but accessible to all. The journey is winding yet manageable, thanks to paved roads.

Lodging options abound! Many inns nestle at the foot of Bukit Kelam, catering to diverse preferences and budgets.

The warmth of the residents of the longhouse in Ensaid welcomes guests, proudly showcasing their handwoven ikat textiles, the fruits of their craftsmanship.

Bukit Kelam's saga remains a love story, where Darajuanti and Patih Loh Gender sought refuge. Amidst Sintang Kingdom's turmoil, Darajuanti's exile led them to find solace on the monolithic hill.

Bukit Kelam's allure extends beyond its beauty, encompassing the romance of its tale and the legends that shape it.*)

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