Water Tower of Palembang

Its magnificence has captivated those itchy fingers to get that one impressive snap. The visual records of this larger-than-life water tower of Palembang are countless by the internet. Old sepia pictures of it appear side by side with the much colorful contemporary ones. The blushing walls of the tower radiates charmingly at night as lights fall upon each side of the majestic high-rise structure. The story behind the lines of its fa├žade must have been deeper, carved in the mind of its residents and the predecessors. Yet, it’s not solely theirs to keep, as it is worth sharing.

Built in 1928 under the time of Palembang’s Mayor, Ir. R.C.A.F.J. Le Cocq d Armandville, the water tower was merely one of the city utilities required for the growing populations of Palembang. It was built by Ir. S. Snuijf between two out of more than a hundred small rivers in Palembang, Kapuran and Sekanak River. Rivers have been very important to the city since more than a thousand years ago. Plugging Kapuran River during the development of a bridge crossing Sekanak River obviously had caused a flood to the city, especially in front of the 35-meter tall water tower, as it was recorded in a picture dated back in 1930s.

The tower survived the harsh times, as if the nature and the people understood the essential role of the 250-meter-square water tower. The flood did not damage the construction. The upheavals during the times of revolution in 1940s did not put the tower into ruins. Quite the reverse, the tower was converted into an office for the Japanese ruler from 1942 to 1945, and finally a city hall until 1956. Since 1963, the water tower has been the office of the city mayor and its beauty has been part of the image of the local government.

Palembang is embarking on becoming an international city, as it was once during the Srivijaya reign. By the year of 2013, the government is looking at a completely different city. The city is visualized as a waterfront city along the Musi Riverbank, with esplanade, cultural centers, corporate offices, recreation centers, historical building complex, and other tourist attractions that would give distinctive character to the city, comparable with Sydney, New York City, London, Paris, and San Francisco.

Stop by a while to sit around and enjoy the breezy night. It is not far from the Masjid Agung, or the Kuto Besak Fort. A ride on a becak or a heavily decorated old city bus can be a story in its own right, but a short drop in front of the tower at night is a full coverage of experience you spend in the emerging city of Palembang.


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