Moving from Bung Hatta Proclamator Monument Park, I moved down along Istana Street, across Plaza Bukittinggi, greeting Gadang Clock Tower, treading on Minangkabau Street and then entering Cindua Mato Street.
A step later, I entered Pasar Atas. Most of stalls were still closed because I was too early to visited it. There was nothing I could do, only a few stalls which were preparing to open, marked by its owners who was busy arranging their trade goods.
Now I was at a gate with a view of steep steps, two tigers guard it on either side, while at lower end was seen a bit of trading crowd, maybe that was Banto Market.
I slowly descended while my mouth muttering count numbers….It’s true, forty steps. These rows of stairs are known as Janjang Ampek Puluah. It is said that forty symbolizes number of Niniak Mamak members.
Brilliant thinking for Louis Constant Westenenk (Agam Resident Assistant/Controleur Agam) who collaborated with Niniak Mamak (Minangkabau Customary Institution) in sparking an idea to integrated of Pasar Atas (Upper Market) – Pasar Bawah (Lower market) – Banto Market in early 20th century. At that time, Janjang became a popular facility in market connectivity. The thinking power of leaders at that time was really squeezed in order to organize Bukittinggi city which had a hilly and uneven topography.
I arrived at lower gate with four poles and European style, also with a large signboard “Janjang Ampek Puluah“. After all, I finally knew that this lower gate was a new construction, complementing the upper gate which had already existed.
While at inner side of lower gate, there is an inscription which contains a brief history of legendary Janjang existence as high as 5 meters and 4.6 meters in wide which was built in the past.
I was still staring at the elegance of this colonial era integration facility, while residents seemed to be moving up and down at Janjang. I really didn’t want to leave this area quickly, stunned to think of how form of this area when Janjang hadn’t been built, maybe where I stood was still in the form of steep hills which separating three market activities.
Janjang Ampek Puluah is just one of many Janjang in Bukittinggi. Apparently Colonial Government was quite serious in integrating all city economic spots at that time. You need to know that there are still Janjang Saribu, Janjang Koto Gadang and Janjang Pasanggrahan in the town which called as Fort de Kock in its past time.
At outer side of gate, public transportations start to generating city pulse. The appearance of imperious Banto Trade Center increasingly shows that the surrounding area can be relied upon as a driving force for city’s economy.