Creepy ! It is what many people feel about the Old Dutch Graveyard in Bogor Botanical Gardens.
Many others consider the place as one of the scariest places in the Gardens. Rumors spread about the presence of unknown figure in white gown with long hair near the site.
If you see the place, perhaps you may nod in agreement.
The thickness of bamboo tree surrounding the site causes very little sunshine can go through. The site is dark, even in the middle of the day. You can tell how dark it will be at night.
Combined with what can be found inside the site, dead people , it is understandable the creepy feeling peeps out.
That’s why this Old Dutch Graveyard does not often have visitors. Even, you can find many of the Gardens visitors tend to speed up their pace if they unintentionally find the site.
What is the Old Dutch Graveyard ? How come is there a graveyard in the Botanical Gardens ?
Well, to have dead bodies buried inside the soil of one tourism area is definitely not a good idea. Tourists visit a place usually to enjoy the beautiful landscape, freshness of air but surely very few enjoy to have scary images on their mind.
However , why do people visit museum and other archaeological sites ? Pharaoh tombs in Egypt are always visited by millions people in a year.
The answer is because Pharaoh Tombs have stories, histories. The stories give knowledge to people and the knowledge eventually reduce the fright to minimal.
This old Dutch graveyard, similar to Pharaoh tombs has also its own stories like everybody does.
The dead bodies under the soil of this site have also their own.
There are 42 tombs inside the old dutch graveyard. Thirty eight with names carved on their tombstones. Four other are without.
The oldest tomb belongs to a person named as Cornelis Potmans, a chemist who passed away on May 2nd,1784, or 230 years ago. Potmans was an administrator of medicine store during the VOC era.
Hold on ! Bogor Botanical Gardens were established , formally in 1817. So , is this tomb older than the gardens itself.
Yes, it is. It is the explanation about why there is a graveyard inside a tourist destination.
The graveyard was not made inside the Botanical Gardens. Despite of that, the Gardens were set up surrounded this site. The tombs site was already there even before the idea popped out in the brain of Carl Reinwardt, the founder of the Gardens.
Then , let’s continue the journey to the past.
I mentioned 42 tombs but actually there was only 41. I was a bit confused if I should count the bodies or the tombstones.
Confused ? Well, it is because Kuhl and Hasselt . These two names were very close friends. So close, that their bodies were buried under the same pit tomb.
Both were botanists, zoologists, naturalists. They were here to chase their ideal and for what they loved so much.
Heinrich Kuhl was a member of Leiden Rijksmuseum van Natuurlijke Historie (National Museum of Natural History). He arrived in Java in 1820 to collect specimens of various species in Netherlands East Indie (now Indonesia).
His hard working attitude to achieve the goal and disease eventually took a toll , his life.
His soulmate, Johan Coenraad van Hasselt continued the work. More than 4000 specimens in form of bird , fishes, reptils, amphibians, insects were sent back to Leiden Museum before he followed his friend in 1823.
Both were still young. Kuhl died at the age of 24 and Hasselt was 26. Both chased their ideal as scientists to find new things in this world.
Continue ? Don’t worry I won’t write about the whole tombs . Besides, I didn’t have enough resources.
The next one is the youngest tomb in the Old Dutch Graveyard. It belongs to Dr. A.J.G.H Kostermans (André_Joseph_Guillaume_Henri_Kostermans) , an “Indonesian” botanist.
He died as an Indonesian in 1994. His name may sound like a Dutch person because he was born in Purworejo in 1906 as a Dutch but died as an Indonesian.
As an botany expert, he produced and published many valuable literature internationally. His contribution to the growth of Herbarium Bogoriensis is also recorded.
His love for the Botanical Gardens was shown from his last request to put his body under the soil of the Gardens. The request was fulfilled.
There are many other tombs here. Many of East Indie Governor Generals who died during their services in this land were buried here. One of the name was DJ de Eerens , the two times Governor General of Netherlands East Indies.
However it is enough to show you the point. Everybody has their history. Theirs are not as famous as the Pharaoh’s but still they do have theirs.
So, why should we be afraid about being here ? What is the difference between this old Dutch Graveyard from the Pharaoh’s tombs ? They were human beings who were dead.
Besides this site is also quite attractive. The tombstones were made following the style of middle age European.
Some of the tombstones in this graveyard were carved beautifully. One of them has a figure of a lady which is really awesome. Some others have pillars and another was like obelisk.
Anyway , I forgot one thing about the Pharaoh’s tombs. It is about the “curses”. It also spread fast. The bad thing seems to run faster.
It once covered the beauty about learning history of a place, a person or anything. Somehow, someday I believe this Old Dutch Graveyard can also attract people to write not only about the mystical side but also what we can learn.
The people who rested here came to this land with purposes. Some were here to pursue their ideals, goals. Some others were here because of their country commanded them to go. One was buried here because of his love.
They were people who contributed on their own way to this city, and this country. The special chapters should have been written in Bogor’s history.
Yet, the old Dutch Graveyard may frighten many people but I don’t mind. The site was full with histories related to Bogor and its Botanical Gardens. It deserves to be here.
Perhaps, it may disturb your dreams about finding only beautiful landscape in the Gardens. It may have scary environment and causes goosebumps to you but it has something more than just to comfort your eyes.
Its richness with stories is the reason, the stories about people who were here before us.