Explore Indonesia; not only Bali, Java too offers plenty of mysticism, palaces, and royal families even a Royal Hotel to study and visit. But only Surakarta gives You the opportunity to join the Coronation Anniversary Celebration of the reigning Sunan or King at his palace or Keraton. Watch the sacred dance, the culmination of these festivities; not many people can say they have seen it.
I checked out my emails and there was the advertisement, a trip to Surakarta or Solo to join the Coronation Anniversary of the King of Surakarta and watch Bedhoyo Ketawang. I recognized this event immediately, I had the unique chance to join about ten years ago with The Heritage Society and I loved it. Since then I have been thinking about it but never ever saw any ads or invitations again.
Here was it once more and this time through a new tour operator who wants to specialize in culture trips. I signed up immediately and was very happy that Kathy too showed an interest in discovering some of her heritage.
Since we were already traveling to Solo, the travel agent also organized a tour to explore Indonesia and the most important sites to visit here and we tasted glorious street food too. This tour of course can be done any time of the year.
I recommend that you stay at The Royal Surakarta Heritage. It is a feast for the eye and puts you into a Javanese frame of mind and prepares you for the special occasion you have come here for. The afternoon before the ceremony we were visited by professionals to let us try on and choose one of the Kebayas (blouse) for women (certain colors are not allowed since they are reserved for specific royal families) and Beskap (jacket) for men.
The next morning we had to get up very early since everybody needed to get ready. We were more ladies in our group, so we took turns going for breakfast and gathering in one of the hotel rooms where experts, in turn, would take care of the hair due, the Sangul is already pre-assembled and affixed to the back of your head (you will have to give it back after the event), and the makeup artist, who used to be a palace dancer herself. Last we were wrapped in a Batik Sarong. They all try hard to make you look your best for this special day.
The men take much less time, they put on the Beskap jacket, get wrapped in the Batik sarong, put on the Blankon hat and slide the Kris into the belt at their back. We all looked very Javanese and felt royal and of course had to shoot plenty of selfies and group pictures, please do not forget your elegant shoes for this.
We then were whisked to the palace’s main entrance, the one used to receive very important guests, what an honor! The tower there with five floors is called Panggung Sangga Buwana and contains a special place for meditation for Sri Sunan. It was built to watch the activities of the Dutch Ford Vastenburg not far away and ideal to watch for the new moon for religious observances.
We all had received this orange and red ribbon to wear as an entrance ticket. We also held our personal invitation to be inspected and here we had to take off our shoes to enter. We passed through a security scanner and then walked past the welcoming line of palace officials. Please smile and act important!
Continue to page 2 explore Indonesia Surakarta
Although much of the old Majapahit Empire influenced the culture in Bali; the two islands today follow different religions and that is reflected in culture, architecture and every day life. In Solo we stayed in a beautiful hotel that showcases Javanese traditions and a completely different one offering Islamic values.
A stunning hotel reminiscent of old world traveling is the Balquisse Heritage Hotel Jimbaran. An typical Balinese hotel is The Four Seasons Jimbaran. Travel to Nusa Dua and find stunning and luxurious hotels up on the cliff.
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