Every mountain is remembered for some specific facts, sights and reasons. Some volcanoes are tall and very strenuous to climb, others are isolated and it takes forever to get to the starting point of the hike, and then there is Gunung Muria which is the shortest of any mountain we have climbed in Indonesia. But it is not for this that we remember this incredible picturesque mountain “Shorty”. What really struck us is the peacefulness and harmony of the entire mountain range, and the way it seems to bring people together. On one side there is Colo that is a most important pilgrim place for Muslims, then there is a very strong Christian movement in the area and then there is still plenty of space on the summit of Puncak 29 where very recently a new Hindu temple was build. It seems so easy that various groups of religious orientations can live together. Trekking @ Gunung Muria Java
Gunung Muria is a long dormant volcano in the center of the Muria peninsula, on the central north cost of Java, approximately 80 km east of the city of Semarang. This region is known for several historical and cultural reasons.
It is home to the gravesites of two of the Wali Sanga of Java – Sunan Muria, also known as Raden Umar Said, whose grave is in Colo on the southern slopes of Mount Muria, and Sunan Kudus, known also as Ja’far Shadiq, whose grave is in the city of Kudus. The Wali Sanga are the nine Islamic Saints associated with the spread of Islam in Java. These graves are part of the network of Islamic sites in Java considered to be sacred. The name Kudus means “holy.” Kudus is the only city in Indonesia with an Arabic name.
Then the same area is home to the Gereja Kristen Muria Indonesia Mennonite (Muria Mennonite Christian Church in Indonesia or GKMI). The church has more than 16,000 followers living in Java, Bali, Sumatra and Kalimantan. GKMI started as an Indigenous Christian movement that was started by Tee Siem Tat and Sie Dioen Nio a Chinese Indonesian couple in the city of Kudus before 1920. The group identified with the Mennonite family of churches when the first believers sought baptism from Russian Mennonite missionaries working under the Dutch Mennonite Mission (Doopsgezinde Zendingsvereeniging) in the Muria area in December 1920.
Major crops of the Muia and Kudus region are rice, sugar, coffee, fish, rubber, coconuts, clove and clove cigarettes factories and a large variety of vegetables and fruits in the higher regions. Then on the way to Kudus from Semerang there are several large textile factories. Hiking @ Gunung Muria
One of the trails to reach Puncak 29, the highest of a number of various summits starts in the village of Rahtawu at an elevation of 820 meters. The well-defined trek is pretty much in perfect condition right from the beginning to the very summit. As the steep mountainside of the lower section is heavily farmed the surrounding villages use the rather large farm track as a main route to bring their harvest to the markets in the surrounding villages down in the valleys.
The first kilometer of the trail leads almost flat into the deep valley with the actual summit clearly visible straight ahead high above slightly to the left. The views in this lower section are already stunning with a good flowing mountain stream deep down embedded to the left and many smaller streams flowing down from countless smaller valleys. Trekking @ Gunung Muria Java
After crossing several streams, in about 20 minutes, you will reach a Y-section with a stone marker that points straight to the left towards KEPUNTON and PUNCAK 29 and towards SAPTOHGO, SENDANG and BUNTON to the right. Take the left turn and follow the path that is just over one kilometer shorter than when taking the trail to the right. Eventually both trails will meet again further up and bring you to the same summit. Trekking @ Gunung Muria
The tiny settlement:
Turn right and after 20 minutes you will reach a small settlement with a tiny Warung. The lady running this food stall seems to be too happy and delighted to serve you some refreshments. Coffee and cakes are highly recommended. Shortly after the turn off towards this small village the trail gets quickly much steeper allowing gaining altitude quickly. Then about 20 minutes after you pass the village the trail will once again join the main trail to the summit. People living in this area grow lots of coffee, some vegetables and a little fruit. Hiking @ Gunung Muria
The stone marker:
If you decide earlier at the stone marker for the trail straight ahead towards Puncak 29, then the big wide path quickly gets substantially steeper allowing good and quick progress. With every meter altitude gained the views and with it the scenery gets better and better, especially in the early morning sun. The entire area is covered by forest which offers some shade if hike during the day.Trekking @ Gunung Muria
The part time settlement:
At an altitude of 1340 meters you will reach a small deserted settlement consisting of several small buildings. These small living quarters appear to be occupied only during the dry season between April to October. Safely protected by the buildings you will pass in the center a small shrine with three small gravestones. We really enjoyed the many colorful flowers in this area. Hiking @ Gunung Muria
Once you get passed this “Mini Village” then there is only 30 minutes of steep and slightly more stringent hiking ahead of you. The forest now gives quickly way to smaller vegetation that allows spectacular views in every direction. This is without question the steepest section of the entire trail.
After about 15 minutes into this section you will reach once again a slightly flatter 50 meters, where at the end towards the mountain a small shrine clearly is one of strong Hindu presence over the past centuries. Hiking @ Gunung Muria Java
Just after this small religious monument the still well defined and maintained trail gets quickly rather steep and winds zig zag up the flank of the hillside and within 20 minutes you will reach the summit where Pak Sijan the Warung 29 care taker will welcome you with the friendliest happy smile you have ever seen. Next to the Warung is a beautiful Hindu temple that was build only very recently, and is often used by worshippers as a place to meditate. After a little rest and a change of t-shirts Pak Sijan will serve you the finest strong Robusta coffee you have ever tasted on a mountain. If time permits, then this summit is the perfect place to spend a night and with it enjoy a hopefully glorious sunset and then the following morning a sunrise in a thorough paradise. There is water for a wash and you will be looked after by a sincere genuine host. Trekking @ Gunung Muria
To reach the actual summit you will need to follow the ridge for a further 300 meters eastward. Here at the highest point of Gunung Muria you find again a small Hindu shrine that is frequently used by worshippers. If the weather Gods are kind and the sun is out, then the views from this peak are simply spectacular. On clear days you can see as far as Gunung Sumbing and Sindore in the distant West and Gunung Lawu a little closer to the East. Turn around and the coastline of the Muria peninsula can clearly be seen. Hiking @ Gunung Muria
The highlight of the journey was definitely the time we spent talking to the Pak Sijan the Warung care taker and one of his close friends, a retired university professor that spend some quality days resting on the summit. Once again, just like on so many other mountains we meet people with such a clear, open and friendly mind that it made us jealous for not being able to spend more quality time with these two genuine gentlemen in remote parts of this great country. Trekking @ Gunung Muria Java
Summery Gunung Muria:
- Elevation: 1625 meter
- Coordinates: -6.616439,110.89041
- Location: Central Java 80 km east of Semerang
- Difficult Grade: 2 for the ascent
- Physical Challenge: 2
- Hiking time: 4 – 4 ½ hours for round trip
- Water source: 1 ½ liter recommended. Available from mountain stream in lover section
- Warung serves refreshments on summit
- Guide: Not essential
- Permit: Not required
- Transport: Semerang – Kudus by public bus 60 km, Air-conditioned US$0.80
- Kudus – Rahtawu by public mini van 20 km US$4.50 one way,
- Or on the back of a motor bike $4.50 one way
Trekking @ Indonesian Volcano Adventures