Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Impressive Fort Marlborough

Fort Marlborough main gate at sunset
Last updated: Jan 28th 2020

When visiting Bengkulu for a vacation or business there are many attractions to visit from its good beaches to nearby interesting historical sites. On the edge of the old port, the impressive fort Marlborough is a wonderful introduction for visitors to the city. 


    Set on a hill overlooking the Indian Ocean fort Marlborough is an interesting place to visit. This impressive star-shaped fort stands as a reminder of the British occupation. Dating from 1714 and approached through massive walls, it is an impressive and well-maintained piece of history, reputedly the strongest fort constructed by the British in the east after George Fort in Madras (city in southeastern India). The fort is a flat structure composed of 4 triangular shaped bastions designed to cover each other, and is surrounded by a dry moat. The main entrance to the fort is protected by a ravelin (a triangular fortification located in front of a fortress or a castle).


    Besides the old British gravestones at the ravelin which make poignant reading, the fort also houses a few interesting old engravings, old pictures, and copies of official correspondence from the time of British rule in Bengkulu (1714-1824). Inside the fort, you can see some 18th century antique Dutch VOC cannons, a tunnel connected to the outside and also a cell where the Dutch incarcerated Soekarno (later became Indonesia's first president) during his internal exile of 1939–1942.
Fort Marlborough - a British Colonialist Heritage

  The fort is open daily from 8 a.m to 6 p.m, visitor admission is Rp. 5,000 (about US$ 0.33) for adults and Rp 3,000 (about US$ 0.20) for children (September 2018). It is easy to reach the fort, which is located on Jalan. A. Yani, to the left of Baru Koto market and opposite Tapak Paderi beach. From the hotel area of Panjang beach, visitors can take a yellow angkot (public city transport) that travels to Kampung route for Rp 4,000 per person, or it takes about a 30-minute walk to the fort.

    A visit to Fort Marlborough allows visitors to enjoy other enchanting tourist spots in the vicinity, such as the Tapak Paderi beach, the Thomas Parr monument, and the old building of Chinatown, and the British resident's building which is now used as the residence of the Bengkulu governor. The fort is now considered as a major historical attraction to draw tourists to Bengkulu. Note: some parts of the fort can affect the level of accessibility of those with disabilities.

The History of Fort Marlborough 

Early History (1685 – 1714)
   The growing market for spices in Europe led East India Company (EIC) to expand its activities in the east and as a result a trading post “The Honourable East India Company’s Garrison on the West Coast of Sumatra” was established at Bencoolen (currently Bengkulu) in 1685 for the acquisition of pepper. In the same year, the company built a small fort called Fort York and also provided a small military force to protect the company's property and civil servants. Due to mortality at the fort itself was very high from diseases like cholera, malaria and dysentery, and the fort condition getting worse, on February 27th 1712, Joseph Collet who served as the Governor of British Bencoolen from 1712 to 1717, and also served as the chief of the Honourable East India Company’s Garrison on the West Coast of Sumatra, wrote a letter to the Board of Directors of EIC in London to obtain a permit to build a new fort and to relocate the trading post. He was permitted to build a new fort in 1714, and in the same year Fort York was abandoned. After the abandonment of Fort York, the fort fell into ruin and could not survive into the present day.

The Construction of Fort Marlborough (1714 -1719)    
One of well preserved cannons of the Dutch VOC at the fort
    In 1714, following the abandonment of Fort York, the EIC trading post was relocated from Fort York to Carrang (about 2 miles or 3.2 km from Fort York) what is today the area between Kebun Keling and Kampung Cina. Under Joseph Collet rule, the company started to construct a fortification at a new militarily important site. Joseph Collet named the new fortification Fort Marlborough in honor of John Churchill, 1st duke of Marlborough, one of England’s greatest generals, who led British and allied armies to important victories over Louis XIV of France, notably at Blenheim (1704), Ramillies (1706), and Oudenaarde (1708).

    The construction on the star-shaped fort with a triangular-shaped bastion on each corner began in 1714 using convict, local and Indian labor. The work in April 1715 consisted primarily of beginning construction on the defensive walls with earth ramparts and thick bricks, a dry ditch, and with gun platforms on the bastions. The fort was a flat structure composed of four triangular shaped bastions designed to cover each other, which two of them overlooked the Indian Ocean to the west, providing cover for the landing area outside the fort. Fort Marlborough which also known as the Bencoolen garrison was largely complete by 1719 and then became the seat of the British power and influence in parts of the west coast of Sumatra until 1824.



The Attacks on Fort Marlborough
    In 1719, Fort Marlborough was abandoned by the British inhabitants due to the numerous conflicts with local inhabitants at the outstations and an attack on the fort, the conflicts also forced the British inhabitants to flee to Madras – India. After brief abandonment, the British inhabitants returned to Bencoolen in 1724 after an agreement was held with the local rulers. 
Left to right: The grave of Capt. Robert Hamilton,
Governor General of British Bencoolen Thomas Parr,
and Parr's secretary Charles Murray

    In 1760, during the Seven Years' War, a French expeditionary force under the command of Charles Hector, comte d'Estaing captured the fort and used it as a base to attack and subdue other British settlements on the west coast of Sumatra. Before returning to the Mascarenes he ransomed the fort back to the British. A direct attack by the local inhabitants on the fort took place again in 1793, but the British defenders were able to repel the attack. 

    As a consequence of the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of London, March 17th 1824, the British settlements on the west coast of Sumatra were handled over to the Dutch which brought about the withdrawal of the East India Company's troops from Fort Marlborough and Bencoolen for good in 1825. The transfer of Bencoolen (currently Bengkulu) to the Dutch control under the Anglo-Dutch Treaty marked the end of 140 years of British power in Bengkulu. 

Fort Marlborough after the British Withdrawal from Sumatra
   After the East India Company's troops left, the Dutch started to take control of Fort Marlborough in 1825. The Dutch garrisoned the fort with 60 troops in 1837. The Dutch continued to occupy the fort until 1942. After the fall of Sumatra to the Japanese, the fort was then occupied the Japanese army from 1942 to 1945. The following of the Japanese surrendered in 1945 the fort was again briefly occupied by the Dutch, and then the Indonesian army and police force unit used the fort until in the late 1970s. The fort was restored in the late 1980s and later opened for public. Now, the fort serves as a tourist attraction, museum, and research center.


Glossary
Bastion is a projecting part of a fortification built at an angle to the line of a wall, so as to allow defensive fire in several directions.

The East India Company (EIC), also known as the Honourable East India Company (HEIC) or the British East India Company was an English and later British joint-stock company, which was formed on December 31st 1600 to pursue trade with the "East Indies" (or Maritime Southeast Asia in present-day terms) but ended up trading mainly with the Indian subcontinent and Qing China.

Ravelin is a triangular fortification or detached outwork, located in front of the innerworks of a fortress (the curtain walls and bastions). Originally called a demi-lune, after the lunette, the ravelin is placed outside a castle and opposite a fortification curtain.


References: 
Britannica Concise Encyclopedia 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Marlborough
http://wftw.nl/bencoolen/bencoolen.html

Let’s help each other!
Let’s make this post available in various languages! Translating this post can help more readers in your language to understand this post. If you would like to translate this post into your language or if you need help to translate some of your posts into Indonesian, or if you want to use the photos from this blog, please send me an email to kurt_reyhans@yahoo.com

Related articles:
Looking Back to the Past - the British Colonial Cemetery 
Traces of British Colonial Presence on Bengkulu Soil
Bengkulu - A Small Relaxed City


More photos from the fort Marlborough


This defensive cannon was originally designed to fire over
fort walls at ships as they approached

18th Century British Military Barracks at the Fort Marlborough
Set on a hill overlooking the Indian Ocean
Dark clouds fill the sky over the fort Marlborough
A Dutch VOC cannon made in 1838 on one of the bastions
The gravestone of Deputy Governor Richard Watts Esg. (died on Dec 17th 1705)
located at the ravelin
Fort Marlborough, a major historical attraction to draw tourists to Bengkulu.
Arrow headed bastion of the Fort Marlborough
Sunset view from the bastion step
Fort Marlborough - Walking Through Time
The gravestone of Second Deputy Governor George Shaw (died on April 25th 1705)
located at the ravelin


Photos by Adriansyah Putera and Peter Kimball
Contact: kurt_reyhans@yahoo.com

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Titan Arum - The World's Tallest Flower

An early blooming Titan Arum
Last updated: Jan 9th 2017

Rainforests of Bengkulu province are also home to the world's tallest flower and possibly the smelliest flower Titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum), known locally as bunga Kibut or bunga Bangkai (English carrion flower) due to its odor which is like the smell of a rotting animal. Titan arum is a tropical plant native to Sumatra. The plant was first discovered by Italian botanist Odoardo Beccari in Sumatra – Indonesia in 1878. Now, the plant is listed as ‘vulnerable’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The first known use of the name Titan arum was by an English broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough to refer to this gigantic tropical plant during the filming of the Private Life of Plants series in 1993 for BBC TV series. Attenborough felt that constantly referring to the plant as Amorphophallus titanium (meaning huge deformed penis) on popular BBC TV series would be inappropriate where viewers might feel uncomfortable or even might be offended by the plant’s scientific name. 

Titan Arum or Kibut is reminiscent of the smell of rotting flesh
The lili-like Titan arum, or also known as Kibut is a really rare and a unique plant. It generally grows in primary rainforest where the ecological processes are not significantly disturbed and  it requires 7–10 years of vegetative growth before blooming for the first time.   The flower of Titan arum is a rich red, with a huge yellow stamen sticking out from its core, when it throws up a spectacular flower spike that can stand over 2 m (6.5 feet) high. Titan arum creates such a stink because when the flower is fully open, it gets hot and emits a repulsive scent that is attractive to its insect pollinators. It only lasts about 2 or 3 days before collapsing.  

Titan arum can be found in several areas in the rainforests of Bengkulu province, normally in Kepahiang region (60 km or 37 miles from the city of Bengkulu) and in Taba Penanjung (45 km or 28 miles from the city of Bengkulu) on the slopes of the Bukit Barisan Mountains that are 120–365 m (394 - 1,194 ft) above sea level, the most accessible being close to the main road halfway between Bengkulu and Curup. Now Titan arum is one of Bengkulu's floral emblems. 

Scientific classification                                       Klik di sini untuk versi bahasa Indonesia
Kingdom: Plantae 
Order: Alismatales
Family: Araceae
Subfamily: Aroideae
Genus: Amorphophallus
Species: A. titanum
Scientific name: Amorphophallus titanium 
More informally it is also called Titan arum, Kibut, carrion flower or corpse flower.

Kibut - the tallest flower on the planet
Interesting facts about Titan arum
  • When the inflorescence is fully open, Titan arum produces an overpowering stench of rotting flesh to attract insect pollinators such as corpse-eating beetles and flesh flies (Sarcophaga). 
  • This plant rarely blooms in cultivation but Mr. Holidin, a horticulturist, has had a remarkable success rate having produced several Titan arum for display in the village of Tebat Monok, Kepahiang district, Indonesia. 
  • Titan arum grows up from an underground tuber which may weigh up to 70 kg (150 pounds) and which can stay dormant for 1 to 3 years.
  • The tuber produces leaf and flower at different times.
  • The scientific name Amorphophallus titanum (from Ancient Greek amorphos + phallos, and titan) means “huge deformed penis” where people might feel uncomfortable or even get offended by the plant’s scientific name. Its Indonesian common name, bunga bangkai, roughly translated means ‘carrion flower’ due to its odor which is reminiscent of the smell of rotting flesh.

Let’s help each other!

Let’s make this post available in various languages! Translating this post can help more readers in your language to understand this post. If you would like to translate this post into your language or if you need help to translate some of your posts into Indonesian, please send me an email to kurt_reyhans@yahoo.com

References: 
www.bbc.co.uk/nature/life/Titan_arum#intro
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amorphophallus_titanum

More photos:
Titan Arum is a rich red, with a huge yellow stamen protruding from its core
Seeing a Titan Arum in the village of Tebat Monok - Kepahiang
The bud of Kibut/Titan Arum
Titan Arum can reach over 2 m (6.5 ft) in height
It takes 7–10 years to develop before blooming for the first time
The bloom of the Titan arum, Tebat Monok - Kepahiang Jan 2nd 2017

Photographed in Tebat Monok, Kepahiang - Indonesia
Photos by Adriansyah Putera, Sirly Adriansyah & Kaneko Kenji


Saturday, March 23, 2013

The World's Largest Flower - Rafflesia Arnoldii

Rafflesia, a rare, parasitic, rootless and leafless plant  
Last updated March 30th, 2018

Critically endangered species - Save Rafflesia !!!
The tropical rainforests of Bengkulu province are home to both the world's largest flower- the Rafflesia arnoldii, and the world's tallest flower, known locally as Kibut or bunga Bangkai (its scientific name is Amorphophallus Titanum). There are approximately 28 species of Rafflesia flowers with the Rafflesia arnoldii being the largest. Its flower can attain a diameter of nearly a meter (3 ft) and the flower can weigh up to 11 kg (24 lb). Its petals grow to 50 cm long (20 inches) and 2.5 cm thick (1 inch). Due to its rarity, the Rafflesia arnoldii is considered endangered. 

Klik di sini untuk versi bahasa Indonesia 

The Rafflesia arnoldii which is known locally as "bunga Rafflesia" is one of the plants protected by law in Indonesia. It is a very rare and a unique plant producing no leaves, stems or roots and it does not even have chlorophyll. Because of this the plant must live as a parasite using the Tetrastigma vine as its host to obtain its nutrients and water. Rafflesia arnodii is not a carnivorous plant, it smells a little of rotting flesh only to attract insects which then pollinate other flowers. The buds of the Rafflesia arnoldii take many months to develop and the flower stays in bloom up to 14 days. Rafflesia arnoldii typically can be seen during wet season between June - December. This sensitive parasitic plant grows only once a year in primary undisturbed rainforest. 



The bud of Rafflesia takes many months to develop
Historical Information
The Rafflesia arnoldii was discovered by a British Lieutenant named Sir Thomas Stamford Bingley Raffles who had been appointed the Governor of British Bencoolen (currently known as Bengkulu) and the British botanist Dr. Joseph Arnold when they arrived in Lubuk Tapi – South Bengkulu in May of 1818. The names of the two men - Raffles and Arnold - were used to give the plant its botanical or scientific name. Rafflesia arnoldii is now the official symbol of Bengkulu province.

Directions:
The Rafflesia arnoldii, the world's largest flower can be found in many areas in the jungles of Bengkulu province - Indonesia, normally in Taba Penanjung – Central Bengkulu District (45 km or 28 miles from the city of Bengkulu) and in Tebat Monok Kepahiang District, on the slopes of the Bukit Barisan Mountains, the most accessible being close to the main road halfway between Bengkulu city and the town of Curup. Rafflesia arnoldii may also be found in several other locations in Bengkulu province including:
  • Pagar Gunung - Kepahiang District
  • Talang Ulu, Suban hot spring, and Taba Rena - Rejang Lebong District
  • and Lubuk Tapi, South Bengkulu District
Rare giant Rafflesia arnodii

Species information:
Full name: Rafflesia arnoldii R.Br.
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Malpighiales
Family: Rafflesiaceae
Genus: Rafflesia


Let’s help each other!
Let’s make this post available in various languages! Translating this post can help more readers in your language to understand this post. If you would like to translate this post into your language or if you need help to translate some of your posts into Indonesian, and or if you want to use photos from this blog please send me an email to kurt_reyhans@yahoo.com



More Photos
You need luck to see the very rare Rafflesia 
The world's largest flower - Rafflesia arnoldii
An exotic jungle flower - Rafflesia arnoldii



After a few days of full bloom, this unique flower begins to rot
Without roots and leaves, the only visible parts are the flowers

Photographed in Taba Penanjung and Tebat Monok, Bengkulu Province
Photos by Peter Kimball, Jeff Clairmont, and Adriansyah Putera
Contact: kurt_reyhans@yahoo.com