An expert Indonesia travel guide will answer your questions concerning the royal city hotel and the Coronation Anniversary Ceremony. The Javanese not Balinese culture is complex with lots of mysticism, power struggles, art and religion. Bram Kushardjanto turned out to be an expert with insider knowledge of royal families, intrigues, palaces, and also history and politics.
The center of the Surakarta palace is a garden. Most of it is fine black sand from the south beach and shaded by rare trees. There are several Pendopos or open halls, some more elaborate than others. This time we were assigned chairs on the open side of the main Pendopo called Sasana Sewaka. Here there was a bit of a breeze. Last time I was on the opposite side, in the hall with the beautifully carved windows called Sasana Handrawina, now allocated to the VVIP guests. While waiting for the start, I walked around to take pictures and video of the Abdi Dalem (servants) sitting in their own Pendopo under the trees, the offerings, the Gamelan orchestra sitting between the glass hall and main stage, and finally the procession of the traditional palace guards and marching band.
According to our Indonesia travel guide the Sultan and his family still live in a special private area of this Keraton (palace). The public is not allowed in and not even pictures are published; only very few people know its secrets.
Then Ingkang Sinuhun Kanjeng Susuhunan (titels) Pakoe Boewonon XIII (name) entered the beautiful elaborate center hall Sasana Sewaka with his entourage and sheltered by typical umbrellas in a slow procession, sat on his throne called Dhampar Kencana and the festivities started. Male family members and also palace officials had lined up next to us and now filed to the front of the Pendopo to enter and greet Sri Sunan. Their head may not be taller than Sri Sunan, that is why they enter the stage crouching or almost squatting and slowly moving forward. Groups of women folk followed the same way.
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It is said that dancers have been chosen carefully; members of the family often participate. They endure rigorous training for the dance, but that is not enough. They also undergo specific rituals in order to be worthy and ready to perform. The physical practice stops on Wednesda y. Thursday until Saturday the D-day they may not go out and they fast. Friday night the dancers start their preparation, their special makeup, hairdo decorated with intricate Jasmine flower nets. And specifically chosen jewelry with mystical symbolism to help and support them.
This year (2016) the anticipated dance finally started and everybody with a camera, the press, and other representatives immediately crowded around the allowed best spots to take pictures and videos. I decided to wait since this dance is planned to last for about two hours. After thirty minutes though it stopped. Sri Sunan Pakoe Boewono XIII did not feel well and had to end his presence and of course so did the dance.
With the gracious permission of one of our tour members who got some shots, I was allowed to integrate them into my video.
Driving out of the palace I noticed the many Janur bamboo and young coconut leaf decorations all around the palace and Alun-Alun. This is typical for Java and also Bali to announce important festivities, also weddings. Around town, many offerings with incense that cost thousands were placed around the Kraton complex on main crossings. The royal family was split over several years and this year's Tingalan Dalam Jumenangan ke-13 (2016) was a reconciliation. In the Javanese mind, fragrances will neutralize bad smells and the meaning here is that fragrant offerings bring back the prestige and influence of Sri Sunan.
This was truly a once in a lifetime experience (I had the luck to participate twice) and we will try to work together with the Indonesia travel guide who has insider connections to let you be a part of it too. If you are interested, please fill in the form here and we pass on to you any and all news we get about the event.
You can visit Solo/Surakarta any time of the year and take this city tour:
Visit the fascinating Batik Museum of Danar Hadi
Watch an Opera Van Java or Wayang Orang
Understand transportation system
An old world travel hotel in Bali is the Balquisse in Jimbaran. Or the tugged away Tugu Hotel with Javanese and Balinese architecture at Canggu Beach. How about a gorgeous garden hotel Kuta Seaview Resort.
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