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Malabar Tea Estate

The history of Malabar dates back to the 1890 when the culture of Dutch began to flow into the highland of Pangalengan.

Pangalengan, known as the Swiss of Indonesia.

Malabar tea estate was established in 1896 and Karel Albert Rudolf Bosscha was the plantation’s first manager. Later on, he was the General Manager to all tea estate in the Pangalengan region.

Beautiful garden at Bosscha’s house.


The office room of Bosscha in Malabar tea estate.

During his 32 years as manager of the tea estate he had accomplished his job enormously. He erected two tea factories in Malabar, one was near his residence also his office, called Malabar tea factory and the other was erected later (1905), called Tanara (now Malabar tea factory). The first Malabar tea factory is now known as the “Sporthall Gelora Dinamika”.

Aerial view over the tea estate.


The tea picker gathered in the Malabar tea factory’s yard. The tree Ki Hujan on the left side was planted in 1931, signing the people hope that rainfall will come in adequate amount.

Both were built in the center of his tea plantation as to enable collected tea leaves reached the factory within fresh condition.
By that time, collected tea leaves were carried in baskets and tea pickers had to walk to the factory through tea bushes. Therefore, small paths were made crossing from every directions embracing the areas to facilitate its transport, maintenance, spraying and to do the figuring of production. To inspect those activities, a watch tower was built at the peak of Gunung Nini , which also used as a resting place.

Two nice tea picker ladies, specially photographed as a showcase of activity in tea estate.

To operate his machineries in the factories and light in houses, a power house of hydro-electric power-plant was built by the river of Cilaki, with 3000 HP. Up to now, the power house has been functioning, partly.

The name Malabar is believed to come from the Arab language, meaning “Mal-“ for money, and “Abar” for a well or source. In fact, Malabar has been making money for PT Perkebunan XII by yielding its best production, supported by its low cost of production.

Presumably, Bosscha had chosen the right place to live. He loves his life in Malabar. He became a part of it. He didn’t even bother to get married. He died on the 26th November 1928 and was buried among his tea bushes in Malabar tea estate as he had requested. His simple tomb is still there, unspoiled.

His beautiful tomb is still there, unspoiled.


TMY June 2001

From various sources.
My sincere gratitude to Hein Buitenweg, Daud Minwary, Aman Raksanagara, Parahyangan Catholic University Bandung, Netherlands Architecture Institute Rotterdam, Museum Sri Baduga Maharaja Bandung, and Foto ‘Lux’ Garoet.