Mount Lawu, or Gunung Lawu, is a massive compound stratovolcano straddling the border between East Java and Central Java, Indonesia. The north side is deeply eroded and the eastern side contains parasitic crater lakes and parasitic cones. A fumarolic area is located on the south flank at 2,550 m. The only reported activity of Lawu took place in 1885, when rumblings and light volcanic ash falls were reported
Many mountaineers climb this mountain to adore the green scenic view, with lovely Edelweiss flowers on its top, and the challenging beauty of the dead crater, southward of the peak, locally known as Kawah Kuning (yellow crater). The highest peak is hilly plain, known as Argo Dumilah, where a “Tri-angular Pole” is erected.
The mountaineering routes to Mt. Lawu
1. From the city of Solo or Surakarta Travel to Tawangmangu, a hilly resort (1305 m high), 40 Km East of Solo. Then continue further 1,5 Km to Cemoro Kandang (Central Java) or Cemoro Sewu (East Java) (1600 M).
2. From East Java, Madiun Travel to Lake Resort Sarangan, on the east slope of the mountain and then continue to Cemoro Sewu. Mt. Lawu stands peacefully in the South border of central and East Java.
Yellow Crater Triangular Peak
From Cemoro Kandang
1. It’s 12 Km climb, normally it should take 7 hours walk.
2. There’s a registration station belonged to Forest Authority (Perhutani). Guide, supplies and information are available. For traditional stories of Mt. Lawu, Pak (Mr) Sumarsono can be contacted.
3. A climber shall walk thru dense wood, near the top, the vegetation are rare, then some specific mountain trees and bushes such as Santigi and Eidelweiss appear.
4. There are satisfactorily 5 huts (5 Pos), namely:
* Pos 1 : Taman Sari Bawah (Lower Garden) (2300 M) The water of the river here contains sulphur.
* Pos 2 : Taman Sari Atas (Upper Garden – 2.470 M). A fresh cool air amidst the green trees. There is an active crater, evaporating sulphur.
* Pos 3 : 2760 M (Pos Penggik) Nearby a spring, by the name of Sendang Panguripan (life spring), producing a cool healthy drinking water.
* Pos 4 : 3025 M This location is named Cokro Suryo, it is a large plain to enjoy the sunset and the picturesque panorama.
* Pos 5 : 3150 M
5. Above these huts, there are
1. Pesanggrahan Argo Dalem (3170 M), small cottages. 2. The highest peak: Argo Dumilah
From Cemoro Sewu
1. It’s 9 Km climb, with steep stony path. 2. There are 5 huts to the top. 3. Contact Ibu (Mrs) Warno at the base camp. Guide, supplies etc are available.
The return journey to the base camp, one shall spend around 4 hours walk.
Its old name was Wukir Mahendra, some believe the top of the mountain was the first kingdom on the island, the dwellers were Gods descending from Kahyangan (heaven), upon seeing an empty beautiful place like a paradise.
It was the retreat of King Brawijaya V, the last king of Majapahit Empire in the 15th century. It has also a strong spiritual traditional relation with the rulers of Mataram Kingdom II and the Karaton (palace) of Surakarta and Yogyakarta.
In ancient Javanese mythology, Lawu is called Mahendra and legend has it that the gods who created the first kingdom in Java descended from heaven here. In later history, Lawu was the retreat of the last king of Majapahit, Brawijaya V. On the eve of the Javanese New Year, thousands of adherents of the indigenous Javanese belief–kebatinan–climb to the summit to meditate.
As in other sacred places in Java, names that dot the landscape often echo the ancient Indian epic, Mahabharata. The crater, for instance, is called Candradimuka, believed to be the place where the gods boiled Bhima’s son Gatotkaca in molten metal to make him invincible. Bhima is the second of the five Pandawa brothers, who are the main protagonists in the Mahabharata.
A cave called Sigolo-golo recalls the name of the cave that the Pandawa brothers, led by the brave Bhima, escaped through when their palace apartment was burned down by their evil cousins the Kurawa.
Brawijaya V had a fascination with honest Bhima, for in the Karanganyar regency (in Central Java), on the Surakarta side of Lawu, he built two fascinating temples dedicated to him; Candi Sukuh which looks almost Mayan and Candi Cetho.
Candi Cetho was “developed” on the orders of the late president Suharto without any archaeological considerations. Irresponsible and inappropriate development is still irreversibly changing the spiritual sites of Lawu. The current building of a Javanese pendapa pavilion with marble flooring, over a sacred stone in the area near the summit called the keputren–the princesses’ quarters–by a wealthy businessman, is but one example.
The shortest route to the summit of Lawu begins in the Cemara Sewu village, between the resorts of Tawangmangu and Sarangan. You can also begin from Cemara Kandang, but the trek is longer and the path is not paved. The distance between Cemara Sewu and the summit called Hargo Dumilah is 7 kilometres. The average time needed to climb to the summit is 7 to 9 hours, but if you are fit, you can do it in 4 to 5 hours. Super fit mountaineers fly up in 3 hours.
For the first 2km or so you walk through agricultural land, where the locals plant vegetables amongst charred skeletons of trees that stand as a reminder that this area is prone to forest fires. As you go higher the vegetation changes and if you are climbing in daylight, you will begin to notice that inquisitive, orange beaked, brown birds are following you. These are Jalak Gading (Acridotheres javanicus) and are endemic to Lawu. Unlike other wild birds in Java, these guardians of Lawu are protected by the belief that whoever attempts to harm them will get lost and perish. The birds do not have the fear of humans that animals in Java have (except for city rats).
To reach the summit for sunrise, begin climbing in evening. The advantage of hiking in the night is that the sight of the dauntingly steep hills will not deflate your spirits. It is best to chose a time close to full moon in the dry season. You will enjoy the millions of stars in the sky, twinkling, falling, and shooting. There are five resting places on the way to the summit where you can light a campfire if you need to keep warm while you rest but be sure to extinguish the fire properly before you leave and remember that the best way to stay warm is to keep moving. It is dangerous to wander off the track looking for firewood.
At the fifth resting post, you will find a shack by a shallow well that has a tiny spring at the bottom of it. This is the sacred Sendang Drajat and the freezing cold water from this spring is believed to have the power to make the person who bathes in it attain high achievements in life.
Alternatively, you can walk a little further to the site called Hargo Dalem, where Brawijaya V used to meditate. Mbok Yem and her son Muis also have a warung here, and space to rest.
These two places are good places to rest because the worst is over and the summit, Hargo Dumilah is a mere 0.8km away.
Down the other way from the summit, there is a flat plain called Selo Pundutan with many Edelweiss blooms. The followers of Brawijaya V used to practice martial arts here.
If you arrive at the summit early, take time to explore the sites around it but conserve enough energy for the hike down.
Bring your litter down because the whole track is filthy with energy drink bottles and various items of plastic waste. It is in everyone’s interest to make Lawu clean once more.