Agustus 07, 2014

Community-based Tourism and Conservation in Muarajambi Temple, Indonesia


THE MUARAJAMBI Temple is located in the Muarajambi Village, Jambi Province, Indonesia. The temple compound was once the centre for worship and education of the Buddhist religion in the period of the Ancient Malay Kingdom in the 7th - 14th century AD. It covers a vast area of 2602 hectares, spreading along 7.5 kilometers of the riverbanks of Batanghari River. There are at least 82 ruins of ancient buildings made of brick constructions, however only seven of these ancient temples have been given intensive conservation treatment.

Muarajambi Temple is included in the tentative list to be considered as a World Heritage Site. However, despite its being in the tentative list, the integrity of the site had been jeopardized by industrial development around it: from coal mines and coal stockpiles to palm plantations and crude palm oil plant. The existence of the coal industry in particular threatens the temple’s state of conservation due to the risk caused by coal dust infiltrating the temple’s stones.

The latest regulatory framework on conservation of cultural monuments (Law No. 11 2011) has yet to be translated into bylaws that would prevent the site from further destructions. Instead, community-based tourism and conservation activities have been flourishing in the area. Local communities, who are pre-dominantly Moslems, are also active in expressing their wish for the site to be freed from development pressure. An online petition by the name Save Muarajambi, initiated by Association for Conservation of Muarajambi (hereinafter PPMJ), was an illustration of communities’ active participation in influencing decision regarding the area and raising awareness toward the need for immediate action. Various groups in the communities also organized a solidarity event for Muarajambi and signed a petition.

This on-going research aims to explore community-based tourism and conservation activities in the Muarajambi Temple and how they influence decisions and plans regarding the area. Among preliminary finding is the major role played by educated locals, who are living in the site itself and committed to preserving the heritage and using it creatively for education and activist purposes. This local activist led activities is often far superior to government-based attempts.[]


Devi Roza Kausar, “Community-based Tourism and Conservation in Muarajambi Temple, Indonesia”, Paper presented at International Conference on Tourism and the Shifting Values of Cultural Heritage “Visiting Pasts, Developing Futures”, Taipei, Taiwan, April 5-9, 2013.

Program of the conference is available here.

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