People Are Flocking to This Obscure Indonesian Pond for Underwater Selfies
A pond in Indonesia, where villagers used to wash their laundry, is now a bona fide tourist destination known as the “Instagram Pond.”
The transformation of the area, Umbul Ponggok in Central Java, began in 2006 when elected village head Junaedi Mulyono wanted to create a tourist attraction but didn't know where to start.
He brought in students from a nearby university who found that the pond was fed water from 40 different natural springs, according to the South China Morning Post. The water is refreshed at a rate of about 800 liters per second, keeping it continuously clear and fresh — and the perfect location for underwater selfies.
And so was born the village-owned business Tirta Mandiri, which means “Water Independent.” Work on the pond began in 2011 where they cleared the moss, put some photogenic fish in, and built tourist-friendly amenities like bathrooms and kiosks around its perimeter.
Now, tourists come every weekend. They pay an admission fee (about $1) and rent underwater cameras (about $4.20) to take pictures lounging on couches or racing on motorbikes — all while submerged in the pond’s blue waters.
The venture has an estimated annual revenue of about $1 million and is one of the most prosperous sights in Indonesia.
Today, 430 of the 700 families in the village own stock in the pond. Residents also own stalls around the lake selling clothing, food, drinks, and souvenirs.
“Five years ago, there were still poor villagers. But now all the unemployed have been absorbed into Tirta Mandiri," Mulyono told the South China Morning Post. "Our focus is to empower people to be independent.”