Historical Facts

Citarum is the longest and largest river in West Java Province with 297 km in length. The stream of the river, which almost divides West Java into two areas, originates in a spring at Mount Wayang (to the south of Bandung City), travels to the north, runs through Bandung Basin and empties into the Java Sea.

The word “Citarum” comes from two words, that is, Ci and Tarum. Ci or Cai in Sundanese language means water. While the word Tarum is a kind of flowering plant (Indigofera) which is used as a natural indigo (purple) dye on traditional cloths.

Tarumanegara is the oldest and largest Hindu Kingdom in West Java. According to historical records in the fifth century Jayashingawarman first built a small village by the edge of the Citarum River and then it gradually expanded to be a large kingdom, that is, Tarumanegara Kingdom.

Citarum is an ancient river. Its headwater is located in Mount Wayang in Bandung District (1,700 m above sea level) and the stream passes through the base of Bandung Basin, flows further into Saguling Dam until it empties into the North Coast of Java Island, or to be precise, in Karawang District.


cekungan bandung
Bandung Basin is surrounded by volcanoes with heights between 650 m and  2000 m above sea level.

Citarum runs through Bandung Basin. Bandung Basin is surrounded by volcanoes with heights between 650 m and 2,000 m above sea level. Around 105,000 years ago Citarum water was pooled by a spectacular eruption unleashed by Mount Sunda and then it led to the formation of ancient Lake Bandung. As time passed, surface water level gradually increased and it is predicted that 36,000 years ago the level once peaked at 725 m above sea level. The eruption materials of Mount Tangkupanparahu, the successor of Mount Sunda, spilled over to the south approaching a location near Citarum in an area today called Curug Jompong. The materials then filled the surrounding valleys which led to the division of the giant ancient lake into two, that is, the west and east Lake Bandung.

curug jompong
Curug Jompong is believed to be the place where the wall of ancient Lake Bandung collapsed. This place used to be one of tourist destinations.

Curug Jompong. Evolutive developments and active river streams led to a formation of a fault and a land collapse in some areas. Subsequently, since 16,000 years ago water in the two ancient lakes started to recede. The leak location of the ancient Lake Bandung was in Curug Jompong.

Ancient Animal Fossils, including Elephant (Elephas Maximus), Rhino (Rhinocerus Sondaicus) and Tapir (Tapirus Indicus) and the teeth of hippo (Hippopotamus), were unearthed in Rancamalang, Cipeundeuy and Bandung Basin area. This proves that the areas around ancient Lake Bandung used to be inhabited by ancient animals.

Floods, especially within Bandung area, have been a frequent occurrence since a long time ago and are attributable to geological and topographical factors. The shape of Bandung Basin formation resembles a bowl as the basin is actually the remains of the drained ancient Lake Bandung, making the area almost always hit by floods especially during a wet season.  This condition led to an action taken by the then Bandung District Head R.A Wiranatakusumah II (1794-1829) to move the district capital from Krapyak to an area in the middle of Bandung District (today Bandung city center area).

The 1945 Indonesian Independence Proclamation Texts were composed in a Citarum riverside house in Rengasdengklok, Karawang District. The house belonged to an Indonesian Chinese named Djiaw Kie Siong.

candi jiwa
Jiwa Temple, one of the temples in Batujaya Temple complex located in Karawang District

Batujaya Hindu Temple complex is situated in downstream Citarum region about 500 m from the main stream which branches off into 3 streams, that is, Bungin, Balukluk, and Muara Gembong Rivers before emptying into the Java Sea. It is estimated that the temple complex was built between the first and third century. The temples, which served as houses to worship, are a proof of the process of acceptance of Hinduism and Buddhism by the ancient Sundanese communities in West Java.