A Religious Enlightening

Things to Do — By Phillippa Stewart on July 3, 2010 at 8:19 am

If you get confused between your mosques, churches or temples Jakarta is a fantastic place to learn about religion. Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population – nearly 200 million people identify as Muslims. However, Jakarta is also home to Buddhist temples and Christian churches.

Something that is well worth a visit is Istiqlal Mosque.

It is the largest mosques in south east Asia –with a capacity to hold 120,000 people. It doesn’t matter if you are not a Muslim, the mosque is open to the public and guided tours are available. Apparently President Clinton had one on his last visit to Jakarta. Bare in mind it is a place of worship and you should dress appropriately, and women should ideally wear headscarves. However, the mosque does lend out full-length robes however if you pop in unplanned.

The mosque was designed to celebrate Indonesia’s independence and the word “istiqlal” means independence in Arabic. Interestingly, the mosque was designed by a Christian architect, Frederich Saliban, who wanted the theme of the mosque to be one of “divinity”, or “ketuhnan” in Indonesian.

President Sukarno laid the first stone on 24th August 1961 and it took a further 17 years to open. President Suharto opened the mosque officially on 22nd February 1978.

Just across the road from the mosque is Jakarta’s largest cathedral, Gereja Katedral. The building was completed in 1901 and there is a small museum about the church adjacent to it.

Jakarta’s only Sikh temple is Gurdwara Mission. It is only one of three gurdwaras in the country – the other ones are in Pedang and Periok. The gurdwara serves as a meeting place for the Sikh community in Jakarta.

Vihara Dharma Dharma is the oldest Buddhist temple in Jakarta. It dates back to 1650. It also has followers of Confucianism and Taoism attend. Today it is home to 18 Buddhist monks.

If you want to just escape from the noise and traffic of Jakarta why not check out Vihara Maha Vira Graha. This is a very basic place of worship, there are no statues or effigies and the emphasis is on meditation. There is also a small library and medical clinic here where consultations are offered to anyone without discrimination.

See these Nileguide links for more info: