Yogyakarta, together with its twin city Surakarta (Solo), is the cradle of civilization on Java. This city was the seat of power that produced the magnificent temples of Borobudur and Prambanan in the 8th and 9th century and the new powerful Mataram kingdom of the 16th and 17th century. Yogyakarta is known as Neverending Asia for its endless attractions and appeal. This city is one of the foremost cultural centers of Indonesia. From climbing the magnificent Borobudur temple, visiting the Keraton (Sultan’s Palace), to watching silversmiths produce amazing jewelries at Kotagede, to shopping up a storm at Malioboro road, you’ll never be bored in this relatively small yet bustling city. From natural wonders, local art and traditions, examples of Javanese heritage to delicious culinary delights, Yogyakarta is a city with numerous attractions. This is why Yogyakarta is the second most visited destination in Indonesia afterBali.
There are numerous daily flights from Jakarta,Surabaya and Bali to Yogyakarta. Yogyakarta is also served by AirAsia from Kuala Lumpur. There is a regular train service between Yogyakarta and other major cities. Yogyakarta is also easily accessible by road. Once you arrive, there are a number of ways you can explore Yogyakarta. Walking is a great way to take in the sights and meet the locals though it can get hot by the middle of the day.
Embrace the local mode of transport and try a becak, traditional three wheeled pedal powered cart. Remember to negotiate the price before you start on your journey. Traditional horse drawn carts known as andong can be found in the tourist areas of Yogyakarta. These are a relaxed and romantic way to take in the sights.
You may wish to organise a car and driver for the duration of your stay in Yogyakarta. If you know how to ride a motorbike you can hire one in the city. Taxi’s are available and can be arranged through your hotel. Buses are the major form of public transportation here however their hours of operation can be limited. If you take a bus beware of pickpockets.
Parangtritis, a Mystical and Enchanting Beach in Yogyakarta
Parangtritis is located around 28 km (17 miles) fromYogyakarta this is the ideal distance to come for a day trip to take a break out of the city and soak up the roar of the waves and the astounding atmosphere. Here you’ll see some incredibly green lush hills set against the backdrop of a raging ocean.
With raging surf and salty sea breezes it will be hard not to feel rejuvenated and refreshed as soon as you arrive here. At night, the star light on the silvery-black dunes give the beach a mystical feeling, and it won’t be hard to understand why there are many local myths about this area. This whole region is filled with beaches, caves, lakes, paths and gravesites, each with their own mystical story.
What makes Parangtritis particularly special is that it is not only an enchanting holiday spot, it’s also a sacred place. According to legend, when you come here you are entering the domain of Kanjeng Ratu Kidul, Queen of the Southern Ocean who is not known for being welcoming to newcomers. For this reason, the Javanese will not wear green, especially yellow-green around here as it’s believed that this attracts the Queen.
In this beach, you can take in the sights of the collapsing walls of surf and breathe in the fresh ocean air as you wander down the beach. Rest at one of the makeshift shelters which line the beach where, for a small charge, you can sit and enjoy some shade. Nearby Parangtritis are the hot springs, Parangwedang where, for a small fee, you can take a 15 minute deep and enjoy the health benefits and rejuvenation that comes from bathing in these waters.
Walking along the shoreline is the best way to marvel at the landscape here.
The easiest way to get to Parangtritis beach is to drive from Yogyakarta. It can be reached in two ways, through Kretek village or through a more rugged road that runs through Imogiri and Siluk village.
Prambanan, the Most Beautiful and Graceful Hindu Temple in Indonesia
Located not far from the Buddhist Borobudur Temple, the proximity of the two temples tells us that on Java, Buddhism and Hinduism lived peacefully next to one another. Prambanan is a magnificent spectacle and an icon of Indonesia’s cultural heritage. The temples at Prambanan were built in the 9th century and is known locally as Roro Jonggrang, coming from the legend of the ‘slender virgin’.
The biggest temple is dedicated to Shiva – the destroyer, and the two smaller ones which sit on its right and left are dedicated to Brahma, the creator, and Wisnhu, the sustainer. The tallest temple of Prambanan is a staggering 47 meters high. Its peak visible from far away and rises high above the ruins of the other temples.
After hundreds of years of neglect, the Prambanan temple was rediscovered by CA Lons, a Dutchman, in 1733. Since then, this temple has been revitalized and today is widely regarded as the most beautiful and graceful Hindu temple in Indonesia. The grandeur, complexity, and integrated architectural concept of Prambanan makes this a truly amazing structure. As a unique cultural and architectural marvel, Prambanan was declared a World Heritage site in 1991 by UNESCO.
Visitors to Prambanan wander around the temples on foot. This is the best way to enjoy the lush landscape and take in the detailed architecture and design of the temples up close.
This temple compound covers 39.8 hectares. In the main yard, there are the three main temples, as well as three Wahana temples, two Apit temples, and eight Patok temples surrounded by fences. In the second yard, there are another 224 Perwara temples. Wandering around here and examining the intricate stonework will be enough to keep you busy all day!
Compared to the temples in Angkor Wat, the temples of Prambanan are much easier to navigate and more tourist-friendly. The area surrounding Prambanan is developed, with a landscaped park and stores selling tourist souvenirs. While it’s not a temple set in a remote rustic setting, the splendor of the temple will make you quickly forget your surroundings. You will be transported back to an ancient time where ritual and culture dominated every part of life.
The closest cities to Prambanan, are eitherYogyakarta or Semarang. Garuda Indonesia, Mandala, Merpati Nusantara Airlines and a number of domestic airlines fly to these cities from Jakarta and other large cities in Indonesia. AirAsia is the first international airline that flies direct from Kuala Lumpur to Yogyakarta.
From Yogyakarta, you can rent a car to go to Klaten. From there, you can walk to the temple. If have been busy and are really tired of walking, you can always call for a becak. With the cost of about Rp 10,000 the Becak driver will bring you right up to the entrance gate of the Temple, not far from the ticket box.
Borobudur, Famous Icon of Indonesia’s Cultural Heritage
Located on the island of Java, the magnificent Borobudur temple is the world’s biggest Buddhist monument, an ancient site widely considered to be one of the world’s seven wonders. The temple sits majestically on a hilltop overlooking lush green fields and distant hills. Built in the 9th century during the reign of the Syailendra dynasty, the temple’s design in Gupta architecture reflects India’s influence on the region, yet there are enough indigenous scenes and elements incorporated to make Borobudur uniquely Indonesian.
It covers an enormous area, measuring 123 x 123 meters. The monument is a marvel of design, decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. The architecture and stonework of this temple has no equal. And it was built without using any kind of cement or mortar! The structure is like a set of massive interlocking Lego blocks held together without any glue.
The temple has remained strong even through ten centuries of neglect. It was rediscovered in 1815, buried under volcanic ash. In the 1970’s the Indonesian Government and UNESCO worked together to restore Borobudur to its former majesty The restoration took eight years to complete and today Borobudur is one of Indonesia and the world’s most valuable treasures.
The temple is decorated with stone carvings in bas-relief representing images from the life of Buddha. Commentators claim that this is the largest and most complete ensemble of Buddhist reliefs in the world, unsurpassed in artistic merit.
The best way to explore this site is on foot. As you climb to the top of this magnificent temple you will marvel at the intricate detailed stone carvings displayed on the temples walls. You will certainly miss a great experience if you visit this enormous temple without learning about its history and importance which are captured on its many reliefs.
Guides are available for around Rp 50,000. This is a wise investment as a guide will be able to walk you around the site and explain the history of the temple, beginning with its construction during the Syailendra dynasty. The stone carvings attached to the temple display legends and stories which have great philosophical significance. For visitors with children, don’t miss the massive green grass area surrounding the Borobudur site.
You may choose to walk through Green Park from the entrance. Many vendors will offer you souvenirs and other knick knacks as you walk through this area, however there are regulations in place to prevent them from disturbing visitors.
Borobudur is only one hour’s drive fromYogyakarta. The easiest way to get there is by joining a tour or renting a car. During your journey to Borobudur, enjoy the fresh cool air of Magelang city with its roads lined with big shady trees. Borobudur itself stands tall against the spectacular backdrop of the Menoreh mountain range that surrounds it.
Entering the temple compound is easy and most visitors choose to wander around on foot. Alternatively, you can chart a cart (pulled by a horse) at a reasonable price. Alternatively, cruise passengers who disembark at Semarang can take a day tour driving through Wonosobo to Borobudur.
The Kraton, Reflection of Javanese Cosmos
The Keraton (also spelled kraton or karaton) or the Palace of Yogyakarta, is a grand complex that was meticulously planned to reflect the Javanese cosmos. This splendid example of traditional Javanese architecture has no equal. Designed and built in stages, the Keraton was completed in 1790. This elegant complex of pavilions was constructed entirely on ancient beliefs and each feature of the complex, from the courtyards to the trees, has a special symbolic meaning related to sophisticated Javanese world view.
A green square called alun-alun fronting the palace, has a large banyan tree in its center, while behind the palace is another similar square. When a sultan dies, the cortege leaves by the southern gate on its way to the cemetery of kings at Imogiri. This palace was designed to be more than just a royal residence. It was built to be a focal point of the Sultan’s entire kingdom. The Keraton is built facing directly north towards the majestic Mt. Merapi with to its south backing the Indian Ocean which is believed to be the abode of Kanjeng Ratu Loro Kidul, the Queen of the South Seas and the mystical consort of the Sultan.
Today, the Keraton is a piece of living history and tradition. It continues to be used, both as a home of the Sultan as well as for other important ceremonial and cultural functions of the Yogyakarta court. Even with Yogyakarta’s modernization, the Keraton of Yogyakarta continues to be respected by the people ofYogyakarta, steeped as it is in mysticism and philosophy. In the afternoons, after the palace is closed to visitors, women in traditional costume can be seen respectfully sprinkling water and flowers on the pillars, lighting incense to “cleanse” the keraton from evil spirits.
Visitors explore the palace on foot. The palace is open to visitors from 08.30 am to 12.30 pm except on Fridays and Saturdays which it closes at 11.00 am. It is closed in the afternoons.
The Keraton is located in the centre of Yogyakarta and can be reached easily by taxi, becak, andong – the horse-drawn cart, or by public bus.
Wayang Kulit: The World’s Greatest Storytelling Tradition
Although the audience watches the story unfold in shadows of figures thrown from behind the screen, the characters of the play are not mere puppets, but are in fact crafted of very finely cut and carved untanned leather which are then beautifully painted over. For this reason, in Indonesia, the performance is called Wayang Kulit, or the Wayang Leather puppet performance, to distinguish it from other forms of wayang puppets that may be made of wood, for example.
Wayang stories are usually taken from episodes of the Hindu classic sagas of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. These stories are not only entertaining but, moreover, teach lofty values and contain deep philosophical thoughts. Accompanied by the remarkable live music of the Javanese gamelan percussion orchestra, Wayang Kulit performances are always present during folk festivities and significant events such at births, weddings, or other celebrations, and lasts the whole night. The particular story presented and messages conveyed are usually relevant to the event.
Wayang stories involve moral and ethical dilemmas faced by the characters in their journey through life, love, and war. The stories are about good versus evil, but more than that, they contemplate the existential struggle between right and wrong. They are about the pursuit of living a virtuous, noble life and the search for meaning in life.
The Wayang-themed activities encourage further exploration of moral life goals, integrity, sense of responsibility, perseverance and care for others. For example, making wayang puppets (menatah) would require patience and motivation to do better, and improve oneself. Playing the puppets (mendalang) also tells a moral story that intends to enlighten as well as entertain.
Located in Kepuhsari, in the Wonogiri Regency, Central Java Province, the Wayang Village is only a two hours bus ride away from Solo and Yogyakarta. From Yogyakarta, Take the bus from Giwangan Terminal to Semin. From Solo Balapan Train Station, you can take the bus (towards Praci) and stop at Cengkal.
Indonesia’s art of Wayang Kulit, more popularly known as the Wayang Shadow Play, is among the world’s greatest story-telling tradition and is recognized by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. Embedded in the ancient Javanese culture since the 8th century, the art has been performed in villages to cities and royal courts for hundreds of years, and remains very much alive until today.
Tamansari Water Castle: A Place for Princesses to Bathe and be ‘Hunted’ by the Sultan
Located near the Kraton, this place was also known as the garden for the Sultan of Yogyakarta. Tamansari was originally built for multiple purposes yet now only several buildings remain. Some of its original functions were a place to rest, to meditate, to work, to hide and to defend the Sultan’s family. In this present day, some of its buildings have now become homes for local residents and only the mosque, resting and bathing space, and underground tunnels are accessible by tourists.
With its combination of eastern and western style building, this unique escape of the royal family has its own appeal and story. The most famous place in Tamansari is the bathing and resting place of the Sultan and his Princesses named Umbul Pasiraman. Most tourists find this place interesting as there is a unique story behind its origins.
The Sultan loves to go hunting during his free time and The Umbul Pasiraman was designed to appease the Sultan of that desire. Different from the Panggung Krapyak which was designed to hunt deer, the Umbul Pasiraman (which means a place to take a bath) was designed for the Princesses to take a bath and for the Sultan to relax and ‘hunt’ for a wife.
To catch his ‘two-legged prey’, it is said that the Sultan would throw a rose from the high tower on the south of the pool and the Princess who caught that rose will be his ‘wife’. Usually, the ones who would catch the rose would either be the Queen or his concubines. There are three different pools at Umbul Pasiraman namely Umbul Binangun, Umbul Muncar and Blumbang Kuras each a different area for the daughters of Sultan and his potential wives to bathe.
Other than the Umbul Pasiraman, visitors can also explore an underground tunnel and mosque. The tunnel was once a hideout but now is not functional as it is partially used for local residences. Unlike most mosques, the mosque on this premise is a unique circle shaped building, with Sumur Gumilang beneath which was a place for the Sultan to pray.
Tamansari is only a few blocks from Kraton and can be reached by walking about 15 minutes from there. People can also use becak to go to this place. For those who use vehicle, you can go to Jl. Taman Sari through the Pasar Ngasem area and enter the East Gate as it has bigger parking lot.
Tamansari is located near Pasar Ngasem where people could buy various local foods. A lot of stores and stalls also sell souvenirs along the road.
Be Delighted with Yogyakarta’s Delicious and Luscious Delicacies
Yogyakarta is a truly a unique city that ruled by a king (sultan) whose lineage can be traced to centuries. For long, this city offers plenty cultural and historical heritage. Here you can eat lesehan style without chairs. The rather sweet cuisine of Yogyakarta might surprise you first, but many people have been longing for good Javanese food after trying it once, so you might have the same experience.
This city offers many luscious delicacies. From bakpia cookies, wingko babat, to enting-enting kacang, visitors will be delighted to find there are so many delicious choices here in this town. Gudeg is one of Jogjakarta’s specialties. This dish is made of young jackfruit with traditional herbs, sometimes with eggs and chicken. Cow’s inner skin, cooked until tender, usually accompanies gudeg with steamed rice.
Most traditional restaurants in Yogyakarta sell this specialty. But, don’t let the sweet taste of gudeg fool you, however, the chili sauce of Javanese food can be really, really spicy because it is made mainly from cabai rawit the spiciest chili in Indonesia.
Yogyakarta is a small city. To illustrate this, for some Yogyakartans, 2 kilometers is considered very far. In the city, you can give your legs some exercise, ride andong/delman (cart carried by a/two horse/s), use the bus and public transportation, ride a taxi, or, try how it feels like to ride becak/pedicab. If you want to visit interesting sites within the city, it is best to move around on foot. If, however, you want to marvel at the grandiose of Borobudur Temple, for instance, it is best if you rent a car.
To make it easier, and shorter, you can take a plane from major cities such as Jakarta or Bandung. From Jakarta and Bandung you can also go to Yogyakarta by train and the journey will take approx. 8-12 hours, though. Some travel agents or rental cars also offer trips to Yogyakarta from big cities with a reasonable fee. The journey will take longer than 12 hours from Jakarta or .
Shop till You Drop in Malioboro
Malioboro is the most famous street inYogyakarta. Located in the heart of the city, this is the main street and was once the ceremonial avenue for the Sultan to pass through on his way to and from the Kraton. Some say that the name Malioboro derives from the name of the British governor Marlborough from the era when Britain ruled the archipelago, between 1811-1816.
Malioboro is packed with shops selling curiosities, and street vendors offering souvenirs at affordable prices, so you’re bound to find something of interest in this street. If you’re after some batik to take home as a souvenir, then Malioboro is the right place for you. Batik can also be made into bags, table cloths, bed sheets, pillow covers, curtains, and a whole lot more.
Across the road is the Vredenburg fort, which used to be the barracks of Dutch soldiers and is now a center for arts and painting exhibitions. On the same side of the road is Beringharjo market, Yogyakarta’s crowded main market. On this street, you will also find Yogyakarta’s oldest hotel, the Garuda Hotel, built in Dutch colonial architecture.
At night, the street comes alive with merchants opening up tents serving all kinds of local cuisine. You need to sit down cross-legged in the tents, which the locals refer to as “lesehan”. Enjoy your meal while taking in Malioboro’s vibrant nightlife. It’s an experience you shall not forget.
The best way to take in the sights of Malioboro is on foot. Stalls and stores line up the streets. You won’t need a car when the next stall to browse is right next door. There are so many wares to choose from here, that you just might need to return the next day to finish all your shopping.
Malioboro is within walking distance from Stasiun Tugu (Tugu Railway Station). You can get here on foot or ride a becak (pedicab) or the ubiquitous four-wheeled horse-drawn carts called “andong”.
Kalasan Temple, The Oldest Buddhist Temple that Predating The Great Borobudur
Kalasan Temple is believed as the oldest Buddhist temple in Central Java and Yogyakarta, even predating the colossal Borobudur Temple. It is located on the southern main road between the cities of Yogyakarta and Solo, approximately 2 Km from thePrambanan Temple compound. The temple stands on a 45×45 meters rectangular base.
Each of the four main cardinal points has stairs and gates adorned with Kala-Makara and also rooms measuring 3.5 square meters. No statue is found in the smaller room facing north, west, and south; but the lotus pedestals suggest that the rooms once must have contained statues of bodhisattvas. The temple is richly decorated with Buddhist figures such as the Bodhisattva and Gana.
The Kalasan inscription found near the temple indicates that it was completed in the Saka year 700 Saka or 778 AD. Written in Sanskrit using Pranagari script. One notable feature of the temple is its octagon-shaped roof, which features carved images of the Tathagatas/Buddha facing the four cardinal points, each of which is flanked by a pair of bodhisattvas in bas-relief.
Kalasan temple is located in the archaeologically rich Prambanan valley. Just a few hundred meters north east of Kalasan one will find the Sari Temple (or Candi Sari) which was most probably the monastery mentioned in the Kalasan inscription.
Kalasan temple is located roughly about 13 Km east fromYogyakarta, about 100 meters south off the main road of Yogyakarta-Solo in direction to Prambanan Temple Complex. From Yogyakarta the trip will take approximately 25-35 minutes. If you want to take public transportation, you can catch the TransJogja Buses in many shelters in Yogyakarta with the direction to Prambanan for an Rp 3,000.
Source : indonesia.travel