Aceh, at the northwestern end of Sumatra, was the first area in Indonesia to have significant contact with the outside world.
Chinese chronicles of the sixth century speak of a kingdom called Po-Li on the northern tip of what is now Sumatra. 9th century Arabic and Indian writings mention Aceh as an important trade center. The first Islamic kingdom in Indonesia was established in 804 in Aceh, and the region's position as an Islamic stronghold grew as the city became a center for Islamic learning and the gateway for Indonesians making the pilgrimage to Mecca.
Over the centuries, a constant influx of traders nail immigrants established Aceh as a wealthy and influential trading nation, possessing a strong sense of independence. Aceh's decline began with the death of Sultan Iskandar Thani in 1641, when the British and the Dutch began with the death to battle for control of the region. - The London Treaty of 1824 gave the Dutch control of all British possessions in Sumatra, in return for their withdrawal from India and Singapore.
The Acehnese are famous throughout Indonesia for their courage and fierce sense of independence, and the Dutch lost over 10.000 men during the Aceh Wars, which lasted from 1872 to 1942
Although industrialization and global communication have created a greater openness to western ideas and practices, visitors should keep in mind that the Acehnese take their religion, their manners and their morals very seriously.
Sitting in a vast expanse of green fields, the white-washed walls and minarets, and charcoal blacks domes of the Grand Mosque are the most famous landmark in Aceh. You can climb the stairs iii one of the minarets for a fantastic view of the city.
The museum has 3 floors filled with antique weapons, gold jewelry, serene onion costumes and household finishing. The 'Runiah Aceh' is an excellent example of traditional architecture, built completely without nails, being held together by cord and pegs. Among the exhibits is a huge cast-iron bell, a gift from die Emperor of China and brought to Aceh by the famed Admiral Cheng Ho in 1414.
Sultan Iskandar Muda (1607-36) as a private playground and bathing place for his wife erected Gunungan. This whimsical architectural fantasy had access to the sultan's palace through the traditional 'Pintu Aceh', used by royalty only.
The cemetery here holds the remains of over 2,000 Dutch, Eurasian, Javanese and Ambonese soldiers who died fighting in the Aceh Wars.
Teungku Syiah Kuala was one of Aceh's great Moslem mamas, and his grave is a shrine for local visitors and Muslims from Indonesia and Malaysia. It stands near the mouth of Krueng Aceh River, about 2-kilometer from the city.
Lhok Nga is a great beach for picnicking. Ujung Bate is a black sand beach nice for walking and collecting seashells. For swimming the best is the exquisite white sand beach at Lampu'uk. Remember to dress appropriately, local women swim fully clothed.
Pulau We, (We Island), is a dramatic island of dense jungle, high hilltop views, palm-lined beaches and mysterious rocky coves. There is also a fresh water lake and semi-active volcano on the island. Nearby Pulau Rubiah is famous for its excellent coral reef and spectacular array of tropical fish. It is a great place for both snorkel-ing and diving.
This is one of the largest national parks in the world, containing over 800,000 hectares of virgin rainforest. The park is home to orang-utan, gib-bons, monkeys, elephants, tigers, and among the last of the Sumatran rhinoceri. There are research facilities for the study of primates, birds and insects, the Oran-utan Rehabilitation Center at Bukit Lawang being the most popular with tourists. It is possible to raft the Sungai Alas River from Ketambe to the Indian Ocean on a 4-5 day expedition. Your journey takes you through exciting white-water rapids to the calmer, crocodile-infested waters of the lowlands. Basic accommodation is available at Ketambe.
Laut Tawar Lake is located in Aceh Tengah. Takengon, the capital of the region, lies on the West Side of the lake, 1,120 meters above sea level. With an average temperature of 20 degree C. the scen-ery is lovely and the area is being developed as a tourist resort with water recreation such as ski-ing and boating being readily available. There is excellent hiking in forests filled with exotic or-chids and trekking to the Telong and Tetek volca-noes for the more energetic.
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