If Palembang is famous for the Ampera Bridge, or Banjarmasin for the Barito Bridge, then Padang has the Siti Nurbaya Bridge. From the name alone, you can already imagine the uniqueness of the bridge which is one of the tourist icons of Padang City; no less when compared to the Ampera Bridge and Barito Bridge. The bridge that spans over Batang Arau is named after the legendary Minangkabau folklore; Siti Nurbaya.
Siti Nurbaya Bridge in front of Mount Padang
Who does not know the love story of Siti Nurbaya and Syamsul Bahri which ended tragically? Also Datuk Maringgih who forced Siti Nurbaya to marry him, to cover the debts of the Minang girl’s father. They are characters in the novel Siti Nurbaya by Marah Rusli, published by Balai Pustaka in 1922. In the 1990s, the story of Romeo and Juliet from Ranah Minang even became a favorite show on TVRI.
Even though they are only fictional characters, people believe that these characters have lived in Padang in the colonial era. In fact, the two graves with the names Siti Nurbaya and Syamsul Bahri which are located at the top of Mount Padang, are believed by the community to be the graves of these two human beings whose love cannot be united. In addition, there is also the grave of their parents at the top of the mountain which is at an altitude of about 400 meters above sea level.
In Siti Nurbaya’s romance, it is said that both of them were buried at the top of Mount Padang. When they were still alive and having a romance, they also often played there. From the top, the view is so beautiful. The panorama of Batang Arau, Muaro Padang Pier, Siti Nurbaya Bridge, and the activities of Padang City look stunning. Meanwhile, in front of it, Air Manis Beach and several islands on the outskirts of Padang Beach are green in the midst of the blue ocean of the Indian Ocean.
From the community settlements around the foot of Mount Padang, the road to the summit takes about 1 hour through a footpath with stairs. However, the road conditions are no longer as good as 15 years ago. At the top there is also an old cannon that points to Muaro Padang. In addition, there is also a fort from World War II, as well as several holes that were used to hide and reconnaissance (bunkers) left by the Japanese army.
The peak of Mount Padang is sometimes crowded with people who come on a “pilgrimage” to the “tomb” of Siti Nurbaya and Syamsul Bahri. It is said that many people believe that they can get true love like the two couples if they come on a “pilgrimage” to the tomb. Believe it or not, it’s up to each of us. Because as far as I know, the story of Siti Nurbaya and Syamsul Bahri is just a legend that “lives” in a novel by the writer of the Age of Balai Pustaka.
The Siti Nurbaya Bridge itself is the only access to Siti Nurbaya Park, where the graves of the two figures trusted by the community are located. Before the 60 meter long bridge was built in 2005, people had to use small boats to cross Batang Arau; from a small pier on the edge of Kampung Cina to Kampung Seberang Padang which is located at the foot of Mount Padang.
Administratively, Siti Nurbaya Bridge is located in South Padang District, about 25 km west of Minangkabau International Airport (BIM), or about one kilometer from Pasar Raya Padang. From the airport, there is a Damri Bus that can take you to Pasar Raya Padang at a cost of Rp. 15,000. From Pasar Raya, then continue by taking city transportation to Muaro by paying only Rp. 2000. Get off around Muaro, the Siti Nurbaya Bridge is right in front of your eyes.
Crowd at Siti Nurbaya Bridge at night
The Siti Nurbaya Bridge Gate is on Jalan Nipah. At night, if you look at it from a distance – just before entering the bridge gate – the lights that adorn the Siti Nurbaya Bridge look like they form a gonjong model in Rumah Gadang, a building characteristic in West Sumatra. From the top of the bridge, the lights from people’s houses at the foot of Mount Padang look like glowing white dots.
The lights from the ships that are leaning on the pier and the old buildings around it also add to the romantic atmosphere. Please enjoy while eating sweet roasted corn or toast with a cup of warm coffee which is sold there every night. In fact, the crowd will appear suddenly on holiday nights, such as weekend nights. The Siti Nurbaya Bridge has indeed become a hangout location for young Padang youths; not just tourists.
Old buildings along Muaro Padang Pier
In contrast to the atmosphere during the day. The weather at Siti Nurbaya Bridge is usually very hot, because of its location not far from Padang Beach. From Jalan Nipah, Mount Padang can be seen standing firmly facing the Indian Ocean. Continuing to walk up the bridge, wooden boats can be seen anchored at Muaro Padang Pier, right under the bridge. Until the end of the 19th century, this small port was one of the important ports with fairly solid trading activities in Sumatra.
As proof of its greatness, along the small port stood a number of classical European architectural buildings. This area is also known as the Old City of Padang. It used to be a trading center in the Padang area. The old buildings that stand along the harbor are relics of the Dutch colonialists, which functioned as a storehouse of spices to be sold to traders from East Asia and Europe.
Now, the old buildings are generally occupied by Chinese citizens. That’s why the area is also known as Kampung Cina. The location is west of the Siti Nurbaya Bridge, with the main road Pondok. There is an old temple with a model of South China architecture. It is said that the temple is more than 200 years old, but is still functioning today. Opposite Batang Arau, there is also a former Chinese grave.
To the east of this old city, there are areas called Pasa Batipuah and Pasa Gadang. The area that was once a former market place is now the location of a number of warehouses belonging to traders of spices and building materials. If you pass this road, you will smell the aroma of fresh spices. Meanwhile, on the right side of the Siti Nurbaya Bridge, there is an old Bank Indonesia building; formerly a former branch office of the Dutch colonial De Javasche Bank.
Satisfied with enjoying the Siti Nurbaya Bridge, you can watch the sunset on Padang Beach. The distance is only about 5 kilometers. Riding a bendi (delman, Padang language) at a cost of around Rp. 30,000, can be a sensation in itself while enjoying the afternoon beach breeze along the way. Feels like being rich people as told in the novel Siti Nurbaya. Because, in the past this traditional vehicle was indeed a luxury transportation, before the presence of motorized vehicles.
Before going home, don’t forget to buy souvenirs. Not far from the Siti Nurbaya Bridge, along the left side of Jalan Nipah, you can find shops selling souvenirs of Minangkabau food. Shops such as Christine Hakim and Nipah provide balado chips, sanjai, cakes dakak-dakak, galamai and other snacks. Even rendang is available here. A vacation to Siti Nurbaya’s village becomes even more complete with a large bag of balado chips in hand.