The earliest written records of Javanese history make mention of the land of Sunda, that is, West Java. Somewhere on the banks of a river east of Jakarta was the capital of the kingdom called Tarumanagara, and in the 5th century A.D. King Purnawarman was its ruler. He apparently initiated the construction of an irrigation canal for rice fields and left stone inscriptions for later generations. One of these inscriptions was discovered on a boulder in a riverbed near Bogor; a replica of it is on display in the West Java Provincial Museum in Bandung. Chinese and Indian sources indicate that there were commercial relations between Tarumanagara and China at that time.
Evidence of this is in records about Java and its kingdoms compiled by the Buddhist monk Fa Xian, who traveled from Sri Lanka to China in 413 A.D. Also, a number of envoys traveled between China and a Javanese kingdom called He Luo Dan, which may have been identical with Tarumanagara. Like many other Southeast Asian kingdoms of that era, Tarumanagara drew heavily upon Indian elements of culture, literature, and philosophy, blending them with local elements into a unique synthesis. We do not know what finally happened to Tarumanagara kingdom, only that within the next three centuries it disappeared, perhaps because of the rise of Sriwijaya Empire in south Sumatra. Among the smaller kingdoms that succeeded it were those of Kuningan, northeast of Bandung; Galuh, whose capital was southeast of Bandung near Ciamis; and Pajajaran, whose capital was near Bogor. These kingdoms eventually united under the banner of Pajajaran.


Two stone inscriptions found near Cibadak, near Sukabumi (west of Bandung), mention the name of King Jaya Bhupati as the king of Sunda. He reigned from 1030 A.D. to 1108 A.D. and resided in Pakuan Pajajaran, near Bogor. The only building left from that apparently glorious era is the small stone of Cangkuang temple in north of Garut.

The 16th century brought two great turning points in the history of Java, including the land of Sunda: the rapid spread of Islam starting from the port cities on the north coast, and the arrival of the Dutch just before 1600, following the earlier voyages of the Portuguese and Spanish. The arrival of the Dutch was likewise to change irrevocably Java face, though in quite a different way. Following Vasco da Gama's discovery of a sea route from Europe around Africa to India and Magellan's voyage across the Pacific Ocean to the Spice Islands from the east, in 1596 four Dutch vessels arrived in Banten after a stormy voyage around Cape of Good Hope, thus ushering in 350 years of Dutch hegemony. Six years after their arrival, the East India Company (Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie, or VOC) was founded in order to create a spice monopoly, which benefited Dutch traders to the detriment of local producers. The VOC established itself at Banten and developed the Sunda Kelapa port, which became Batavia. .
In the First Javanese War of Succession in the early 18th century, the VOC helped Pakubuwana to ascend to the throne, and he in turn ceded the whole Parahyangan region to the VOC. This was the first major territorial acquisition of the Dutch in Indonesia. In 1799, the VOC shamefully collapsed due to mismanagement and corruption, was declared bankrupt and dissolved. The Dutch government took over the administration of the East Indies, whereupon one of its first major undertakings was the construction of a trunk road through the whole length of Java from 1808 to 1810. Its incredible 1,000-km route took it from Anyer at its westernmost point to Pamanukan in the east. Tragically, an estimated 30.000 Javanese coolies died in forced labor during its construction. Though it was called the Groote Postweg (Great Post Road), its primary significance was military. The Dutchman who managed the project was Governor General Marshal Daendels, who overcame considerable physical and political obstacles to complete the project. A particularly memorable stretch of road is just northeast of Bandung where a dramatic historical confrontation took place between Daendels and the local ruler, Prince Kornel.

Prior to 1810 the local Sundanese ruler of Tatar Ukur (the Bandung area) resided just south of the city in Karapyak, now Dayeuh Kolot, a small settlement on the banks of the Citarum River, (All traces of the former residence there have vanished). General Daendels, however, persuaded the ruler to relocate to the Groote Postweg between Cikapundung and Cibadak Rivers, a spot that today is Bandung 's city square, or Alun-alun. Thus, Bandung owes its birth on 25 May 1810 to the Groote Postweg. The main streets of present-day Bandung Sudirman Street, Asia Afrika Street, and A. Yani Street were aligned with the Groote Postweg. In a short intermezzo from 1811 to 1815, while the French under Napoleon dominated the Netherlands, the British ruled Java under Governor Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles. This is the man also known for having brought Borobudur to the attention of the Western world and for founding the city of Singapore. The Dutch, however, came back after Napoleon's defeat, and in this second colonial period the city of Bandung was to rise and flourish to an unprecedented degree.

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