Bengawan Solo, riwayatmu ini,
sedari dulu jadi perhatian insani.
Musim kemarau, tak seb’rapa airmu,
di musim hujan, air mengalir sampai jauh.
Mata airmu dari Solo, terkurung Gunung Seribu,
air mengalir sampai jauh, akhirnya ke laut.
Itu perahu, riwayatmu dulu,
kaum pedagang s’lalu naik itu perahu.
“Those are the words from the song Bengawan Solo written by Bapak Gesang, the well-known composer in 1940. The song has not only become famous in Indonesia but also in foreign countries particularly Japan. The song Bengawan Solo has become so well-known and made such an impression on the Japanese that they helped to build the Taman Gesang situated in the Satwataru Park, Jurug, Surakarta
From the words of the song, we can understand the nature of the Bengawan Solo. The water comes from the source in the village of Dlepih, some where in Wonogiri regency. It is surrounded by the stony and mountainous hills, and it flows to the sea covering the distance of 634 km, passing two provinces Central and East Java.
In the dry season the river used to have not water enough to irrigate the rice fields, and it was easy to pass across the river without the help of a rowing boat. On the other hand in the wet season the water level used to often over flow its banks causing floods and disaster down-stream, and a lot of rice fields were inundated with water. Because of it, the government tried hand to make maximum use of Bengawan Solo resources and built a giant dam in Gajah Mungkur. The work of building the dam started in 1977 and completed in November 1981, which later was inaugurated by Pesident Soeharto.*