‘Dawn Horizon’, ‘Abode of the Gods’, ‘Strange and Beautiful Place’; these are a few traditional interpretations of the word Dieng. At over 2000 meters above sea levels in the heart of Java, the Dieng plateau is belived to be the site of an ancient volcanic crater, which at some distant period in time erupted violently, subsequently collapsing to form a lake. Today the area is a flat, marshy plain surrounded by hills. The immediate vicinity remains volatile and unstable, giving rise to all kinds of unusual natural phenomena. There are craters of boiling mud, hot lake, coloured lakes, steaming rivers of balck water, deep wells, caves and underground channels, gaseous vapour hissing from between fissures in the rocks, and everywhere the smell of sulphure.
Geographically, Dieng is situated in the centre of a volcanic ridge whice runs along the entire length of the east lie the montais of Sumbing, Sindoro, Merapi, Merbabu, and, marking the eastern limits of Central Java, Mt. Lawu. On the Other side of the plateau the towering mass of Mt. Slamet stands sentinel over the western approach.
Local product for which Dieng is well known include a special variety of dried bean, an oil extracted from the gondo puro plant, which is eccellent for massage, and a highly valued wild medicinal herb known as purwa ceng. Credited with almost magical powers, particularly in it’s ability perseverance to increase longvegevity and enhance male potency, purwa ceng is jealously guarded by the local inhabitantsseems to contain similar properties to the Chinese ginseng root.
Dieng is also the site of what may be Java’s oldest exiting temple complex, remains of which are still clearly visible. Inscription have revealed that it dates back to at least the eighth century and that it was a religious centre for not less than four hundred years. First drawing the attention of scholars and scientist in the ninenteenth century, the site has since yielded a wealth of stone images and other artifacts, some of which are displayed in a small museum in dieng Village. Others can be seen at the National Museum in Jakarta. Eight small temples remain standing on the plateau, as wellas extensive foundations of other ancient buildings.
The normal approach to the plateau is from the town of Wonosobo, 26 Kilometers to the south. Colt minibuss leave regularly (as soon as they are full). Attempting to reach Dieng by any other road requires preseverence and can only really be enjoyed by those who like abandoning themselves to fate. One possible alternative, if feeling the old pilgrims’ route. The distance from bawang to Dieng is 14 kilometers and the climb takes four to five hour.