The Grave of Orang Kayo Hitam

Orang Kayo Hitam is a famous character in Jambi’s history. From legends (myths) this man was a king and founder of the Jambi Melayu Kingdom–said to have died 1515 AD.
Brief information about him can be obtained by clicking this link.:

C. & P. at the grave of Orang Kayo Hitam.

At the bottom of this post is a video we made of this location.

Travel to the Grave of Orang Kayo Hitam

  • Distance to this location from the Makalam bridge in the City of Jambi: 97 kilometers (60 miles).
  • Length of time to get there: 3 hours and 10 minutes (2 hours is you take a speedboat from ANCOL).
  • We recommend that you do not drive a vehicle to this location.  It would be easier and faster to rent a speedboat at ANCOL. It would not be cost prohibitive if you had a group of people with which to split the rental fee.
  • Some people told us that the road was impassable, but we set out to confirm if that was true. We discovered that it was passable, but the roads are in very poor condition. Fortunately for us it had not rained in four days prior to our trip. If there would have been rain we would not have been able to pass. There are long stretches of road where there isn’t any asphalt or stone, only a dirt “lane” wide enough for one vehicle, and very often full of deep ruts and holes. The speed at which we traveled was at times 10 km/h or less (5 mph). Our vehicle would occasionally rub bottom, and it has considerable ground clearance. A sedan would not have been able to make it through.
  • If you choose to make the trip with a vehicle, it is advisable that you fill your gas tank prior to leaving the City of Jambi. There are no gas stations in this area. We noticed one very old gas station about 2 hours outside the City of Jambi, but it was shut down years ago. You may be able to purchase some gas along the sides of the roads, but at inflated prices. One tank of gas will get you to the grave site and back to the city with plenty of reserve.

The exact location of the grave:

  • It’s location is on the north side of the road as you are heading east from the City of Jambi to the village of Simpang.
  • Click this link to see the location on a map.
  • It is located several miles west of, and prior to the large bridge that crosses the Batanghari River, at the village of Simpang.
  • It is in Muara Berbak District (Kecamatan Muara Berbak).   Old maps don’t show this district. We were told it’s a new district that was formed around 2004.
  • It is in the Tanjung Jabung Regency (Kabupaten Tanjung Jabung).
  • The grave is 25 meters (82 feet) from the bank of the Batanghari River. It is clearly marked out so that boats / ships passing by can see it.
  • Straight across the river from the grave of Orang Kayo Hitam is said to be the grave of his brother, Orang Kayo Pingai (alt. spelling: Orang Kayo Pinang). It’s location can be found by clicking this link.

    C. & P. with Mr. Latib, and his grandson, Adatra. Grave in the background is that of Orang Kayo Hitam. The grave in the foreground is his wife’s grave, Mayang Mangurai.

According to 67 year old Mr. Latib, the caretaker of this grave for the last 25 years, there are 3 people and one animal buried inside the building:

  1. Orang Kayo Hitam
  2. The wife of Orang Kayo Hitam, Mayang Mangurai, and,
  3. A pet cat of Orang Kayo Hitam. We asked if Mr. Latib knew the name of the cat, but he didn’t.
  4. The first caretaker of the grave site, Mr. Ibrahim, who we were told died in 1955.
  • Mr. Latib informed us that Mr. Ibrahim was the first person who maintained the grave of Orang Kayo Hitam. Prior to him the grave was overgrown. When asked why a simple caretaker of a grave was honored with being able to be buried next to such a distinguished and honored figure in Jambi’s history, the response was that there was a huge flood at the time Mr. Ibrahim died (1955), and this grave site was the only land available. While viewing the area we saw there were other graves in the surrounding vicinity, and the ground is very level. Due to those facts, we questioned the answer given, but that’s the response we were left with.

The grave of Orang Kayo Hitam and his wife, Mayang Mangurai.

Other things about this grave:

  • At the front of the grave of Orang Kayo Hitam is an assortment of books. They contain prayers, and surat 36 (Yasin), from the Al’ Quran. They are used when people come here for their spiritual pilgrimages to pray. Many Muslims believe there is additional spiritual blessing available when they pray at the graves of famous people. These types of graves are said to be, or contain “keramat”—sacred; holy; possess supernatural powers. One famous grave in the City of Jambi, that is frequently visited, is that of Putri Ayu.
  • We were told that some people will bring goats, bulls, and water buffalo to sacrifice within the fenced enclosure next to the graves.
  • Many people have strong superstitions about the grave of Orang Kayo Hitam. One superstition is that if people don’t pause while traveling along the Batanghari River, in front of the grave of Orang Kayo Hitam, they could experience a disaster. We saw several gasoline powered boats pass by while we were there, but they didn’t slow down.
  • There is a large beringin (banyan) and sengkuang tree growing at the south side of the building in which these four graves are located. Many believe these trees have significant spiritual implications. Many traces of Hinduism still grace the beliefs of the large majority of Muslims in Indonesia. Hindus and Buddhists have traditionally considered the banyan tree as being sacred. In Indonesia, these trees are often seen in cemeteries. The banyan tree is also located on the Indonesian shield.
  • The site was renovated in 2007.

    Grave of Orang Kayo Hitam from the middle of the Batanghari River.

  • When we asked how many people come to this grave to pray, we were told 30 people per day. When we signed the guest book, we took the time to review back several years, and…, let’s just say there were significantly less than 30 people per day who make this spiritual pilgrimage (Or could it be that many don’t sign the book?). We read a reporter’s article about this grave, and their information indicated that during the month of Ramadan the grave is the busiest. Mr. Latib told us that during Ramadan very few people come. We were there during Ramadan, and there wasn’t anybody there but us.
  • We asked if people from outside the area make spiritual pilgrimages to this location. Again, the response was that many people from various Indonesian cities, as well as other countries, like Holland, China, England, etc., come. But again, our review of the guest book did not reflect this. (Could it have been that those guests either forgot or didn’t want to sign the guest book?)
  • Within 100 yards of the grave of Orang Kayo Hitam is another grave, that of Putri Julan.  Mr. Latib couldn’t give us any information about this person, when we asked why she was considered famous. His only response was that she was a follower of Orang Kayo Hitam.
  • We were shown two archeological sites about 100’ from the grave of Putri Julan.  These two sites were described as being from the ancient Sriwijaya Kingdom. A sign at the location, from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, indicates that they are “ancient remnants.” The caretaker at the grave referred to these two sites as “candi,” which means temples. Then they explained further that one location was a cremation site, but they didn’t know what the other one was for. Mr. Latib indicated that the second archeological site was found by himself in July of 2011.

Below is a video we made of this famous grave.