Become a Maharajah and rule an island for a day

Jakarta: A Lilliputian landscape was what I pictured in my mind when someone suggested that I visit Taman Mini, one of the numerous tourist attractions around the capital city.

“It’s a mini representation of Indonesia,” she said.

Being diminutive in height, the idea of a mini Indonesia sat well with me. That it’d be great playing make believe I was tall was all I could think about. But then my dream was shattered to smithereens when I reached Taman Mini. Semantics came into play – mini took to mean squeezing all of the 33 Indonesian provinces into 250 hectares of land at East Jakarta. There certainly wasn’t anything small scale about the place. Walking would have been a splendid idea if the skies had been overcast that day I went with my friend Apo who was visiting from Singapore.

Aerial view of a pavilion from the kereta gantung

Taman Mini Indonesia Indah, which literally translates to Beautiful Indonesia Miniature Park, is a recreational park with a cultural thematic scheme highlighted by specially constructed pavilions showcasing a province’s unique architecture, clothing and other emblematic objects. Wikipedia lists six province pavilions viz. Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan (Borneo), Sulawesi, Lesser Sunda Islands, Maluku and Papua. The new province pavilions include Bangka Belitung, Banten, West Sulawesi, North Maluku, Gorontalo and West Papua. Former First Lady of Indonesia, Siti Hartinah Soeharto, is credited for getting the project off the ground.  Ibu Tien, as she was known to the locals, envisioned a place for the locals that would showcase the country’s diverse cultures and, in turn, foster national pride in the locals.

A watery canvas depicting the Indonesian archipelago

Taman Mini’s recreational facilities include garden and parks such as the Orchid, Cactus, Jasmine, Golden Snail gardens, Bird Park and Taman Ria Atmaja Park, the venue for stage and musical performances. It also houses the huge Teater Tanah Airku (Theater of My Homeland), a sprawling water theme park and museums.

An aerial view is the best to cover all the pavilions particularly when you’re not inclined to walk due to the blazing heat or pure laziness. Sitting up high in the Kereta Gantung (Sky Lift), from Station B to Station C, you’ll hover over, to mention a few, Kalimantan Timur, Maluku, Aceh, Sumatra, Bengkulu and Jambi. Going for another round, this time from Station B to Station A, you’ll be looking down, for example, at Bali, Jakarta and Sulawesi. Also, you’ll see a landscaped rendition of all the 17, 508 islands of Indonesia over a man-made lake mid-way through the journey. Back on land, you can play dress up in one of the pavilions, which Apo did. He was a maharajah for about 30 minutes, decked in royal garb cap-a-pie.

Spacious areas greet the visitor to this pavilion

Bright colours and pointed roofs always attract attention

Blazing heat or not, Taman Mini is the answer to a quick look around the island if you don’t have the luxury of time. But if you do, it’ll be a good idea to go back and really soak up the islands of Indonesia.

What is a tourist attraction without a waterpark?

Taman Mini Indonesia Complex

Hours: 7am – 9pm


Entrance fee: Rp15, 000 (bus) | Rp10, 000 (car)

Cable car fee: Rp25, 000 (one-way)


 Photography by Apo Aguila and Alvin Tismo


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