Gua Jepang & Belanda: Dungeon Caves Deep in the Wood
Many heritages spread on regions of Indonesia. Two of them are caves in North Bandung, West Java province: Gua Jepang and Gua Belanda. Those are legacy from the colonial era, which is located in Ir. H. Juanda Great Forest Park (Tahura a.k.a Taman Hutan Raya). The ticket for entering Tahura area is only IDR 8,000.
Arrived in front of Gua Jepang (Cave of Japan), we were greeted by some cave guides with their not-so-bright flashlights. It is for rent. IDR 1,500 each. You don’t have to pay to enter the cave, but the flashlight is definitely a must. And the tour guide? It’s optional. Even if you hire them, pay as you wish.
Yayah and Bunda rented two flashes and two guides to come in with us. He just didn’t want to get lost in this labyrinth.
Gua Jepang was built in 1942. There are four alleys to enter it. But make no mistakes, the second and third were only traps for Japanese enemy in second World War period. So, we went through the first alley.
It was humid, cold, and of course dark. As we walked slowly on the rocky road, a guide started to give his simple course. “In the past, this cave was where the Japanese army’s defense.”
Yayah saw a mound one meter higher of the floor. According to the guide, this was a bed for the army of Dai Nippon. He must be kidding, how could one sleep on such bed? Not only hard, it’s stuffy!
“There it goes, the ventilation,” said another guide mentioning a higher cave mouth in other corner, as if he could hear my thought.
After passing through room by room, we went out through larger cave’s mouth. This alley had once been used to in and out of war’s vehicles.
Before Civil Government of the East Indies Netherland surrendered unconditionally to the Japanese Army, the cave was built by the Japanese. But after the Dutch surrendered, Gua Jepang development was then handed to Indonesian native and Holland army through a forced labor system called Romusha.
Gua BelandaNo further than 500 meters from Gua Jepang, you will find Gua Belanda (Cave of Netherland). Unfortunately, you have to change the guide, and pay again. Because the previous guide is for Gua Jepang only.
Gua Belanda is larger and older. It was built in 1918. The cave was, in the beginning, built as Bengkok hydropower. When the World War II occurred, the cave was turned into a Central of Military Telecommunications of East Indies Dutch Radio Station, and also a weapon storehouse.
Unlike Gua Jepang, Gua Belanda condition is better. The wall has been cemented. But I think it’s the same. There are several rooms, including bedrooms for the Dutch army, interrogation room, and dungeon.
In Gua Jepang, the interrogation room was for torturing the Dutch. And in Goa Belanda, the same room was for tormenting the Japanese. The war is always cruel.
- Photos by Brahmanto Anindito