For those traveling by land from Bandung to Cianjur in West Java, you might notice the amazing white hills at the side of the road upon entering Citatah in Padalarang, around 25-30 kilometers from the province's capital. The white hills are actually karst formations named Rajamandala, or also known as Citatah Karst Hills. Administratively part of West Bandung regency, Rajamandala is a hilly region that, at a glance, may look barren and thin due to mining activities. The fact is, the area has other potential. It’s a natural laboratory for earth science enthusiasts, a natural arena to practice rock climbing as well as a great destination for geotourism and ecotourism. Several interesting spots in Rajamandala that can be explored while visiting the karst area, include Pasir Bancana, Gunung Masigit, Pasir Pawon, Karang Panganten, Pasir Pabeasan, Karang Hawu, Pasir Manik, Sanghyang Kenit, Sanghyang Tikoro and Sanghyang Poek. If you have a day to spend, here are the three most recommended spots that you should visit at Rajamandala Karst Hills. Karang Hawu The word “hawu” means “furnace” in Sundanese, a traditional cooking tool in Indonesia. The local residents named this particular spot Karang Hawu or Mount Hawu because its rock formation looked like one; especially when viewed from the foothill. The side towering above the circle looks like a chimney for the smoke, while the circle to the south looks like a place to insert firewood. According to Budi Brahmantyo, a geological engineering lecturer at the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB), the natural arch in Karang Hawu was formed by limestone. The formation is called the karstification process, which is basically the process of dissolution of carbonate compounds with the main ingredient of limestone. Holes that are formed are controlled by the crack that extends nearly north-south. Pasir Pawon This place is basically an open hill comprising various limestone. The word “pasir” means “hill” in Sundanese. One of its interesting spots is a rock formation that resembles a gate; the local residents believe it is a gateway to the supernatural world. There is also a rock formation known as Batu Mesra (Romantic Rocks) because it looks like two lovers sitting back to back, enjoying the natural scenery. Visitors can also find some fossil coral rocks as proof of marine life in Rajamandala millions of years ago. From Pasir Pawon, you can visit other parts of Rajamandala karst area easily, such as Gunung Masigit, Pasir Bancana, Karang Panganten, Karang Hawu and Cibukur Valley. Sadly, also from Pasir Pawon, you can clearly witness how mining activities have destroyed this historic area and its unique morphological features of Bandung Basin. Pawon Cave This spot is one of the caves in the Rajamandala karst area that is still quite well preserved. The local residents are willing to maintain its existence due to their belief that some corners inside the cave are convenient as a praying place. Skeletons of prehistoric humans, also known as Manusia Pawon (Pawon Human), have been discovered in this cave. It is said that Manusia Pawon roamed from one place to another around 9,500 years ago. From the tools -- made of animal bones, stone and obsidian - found in the cave, it is assumed that these humans used them to find food. After the discovery of an animal teeth necklace, it was also concluded that Manusia Pawon was familiar with accessories. Other than ancient human skeletons, visitors will also find a window in Pawon Cave that offers a view of Cibukur Valley. In one corner, there is also a space that provides quite a cozy rest area. How to get there From Bandung, it will take around 45-60 minutes’ drive to Rajamandala. If you opt for public transportation, you can hop on a Damri bus on the Alun-alun Bandung-Situ Ciburuy route with a starting ticket price of Rp 4,000 (less than US$1) or the Alun-alun Bandung-Kota Baru Parahyangan route (Rp 6,000) and continue the journey with an angkot (public minivan) on the Ciburuy-Padalarang route (Rp 4,000). Tips - Once you arrive at the Rajamandala karst area, always remember that you shouldn't kill anything but time, leave anything but footprints and take anything but pictures. - Use proper footwear for muddy terrain (especially if you're going in the rainy season). - Use masks if you cannot stand the smell of guano (bat droppings) in Pawon Cave. - Don't forget to bring sunglasses and a hat to protect your eyes and head. - Bring a trash bag to take your garbage home with you. Don't litter in the karst area. - You don’t need to pay any entrance fee to enter Karang Hawu and Pasir Pawon. But the entry fee to Pawon Cave is Rp 5,500. - If you are interested in exploring the Rajamandala karst area some more, then you should not go alone. Take a local guide with you. You can contact Mata Bumi (via Rony Noviansyah on +62 856 2478 4548) to help you arrange a trip or visit the official Facebook account facebook.com/mata.bumi.indonesia.