Indonesia Travel Yogyakarta; Royal Keep

Indonesia travel Yogyakarta is about power, culture and mysticism that occur also in Bali. Here though the Keraton and royals are still active and essential; interesting accommodations are nearby too. The royal courts of Europe or the Middle East are utterly different from the ones here in Indonesia be it Bali or Central Java, (Solo/Surakarta or Jogjakarta/Yogyakarta) and also the outer islands. 

We had been invited by the Sultan of Surakarta to his Coronation Anniversary and now came to Jogjakarta to visit the palace here. It is bigger and more famous, also better maintained at least in 2017 than the one in Solo. The lay out, basic design and organization though are pretty similar since their family ancestry is the same.

Keraton of Yogyakarta is Alive Preserving the Javanese Culture

Sultan Hamengkubuwana I, the founder of the Sultanate Ngayogyakarta Hadingingrat built it 1755-1756. It is arranged in a North-South and East-West axis with various complexes used for different functions. The courtyards of each of these parts are covered with sand from the south beach and have a main and several additional buildings. Between these complexes are big walls with gates called Regol to connect them with each other. Most of the architecture follows the Javanese Joglo style with influences from Portugal, Holland, and China.

The whole layout and use of buildings, plants, furnishings, symbols and heirloom objects are full of philosophical and mystical meanings. On this page Indonesia travel I will only explain very few. Let’s start with the two Dwarapala statues at the entrance; one Balabuta illustrates wickedness and the other Cinkarabala goodness. This means that you need to be able to distinguish between good and evil. In the north courtyard, there are 64 or 63 Beringin trees or Ficus Benjamina which signify the age of Prophet Muhammad when he passed.  

Kris is a Javanese weapon, mostly for self-defense with plenty of mystical beliefs. The main Kris of this Keraton is called KKA Kopek and may only be worn by the reigning Sultan as a symbol of his position as spiritual as well as worldly leader of the people.

Titles: first K is for Kyai, masculine (Nyai feminine) as the Sultan’s property and the second K stands for Kangjeng if it was used by the Sultan and or lent by somebody else for reasons of official position and the all powerful A is reserved for Ageng for objects of highest rank and most magical properties. 

The Sultan owns more objects of great importance that show off his position, for example, KK Ampilan includes Dampar Kencana, his throne made of gold, Pancadan/Amparan the foot rest in front of the throne and Dampar Cepuri a small table for accessories. And the list goes on and on…

I do not want to talk too much about weapons and regalia and the important royal horse carts, those are obvious choices, instead, I will talk about mystical instruments, how about that? The palace of Yogyakarta owns 18-19 Gamelan orchestra sets that are considered heirlooms and are all given names and titles. Three of them are considered more important because they date back to the old Mataram Kingdom; they are KK Guntur Laut, KK Maeso Ganggang dan KK Guntur Madu. They are only played during very important royal ceremonies. 

If you want to know more about the Keraton of Jogjakarta visit here. 

Indonesia Travel; The Festivities you Want to See

The royal families together with the Abdi Dalem or servants keep the Javanese culture alive by organizing specific ceremonies and rituals. Here I discuss the most important ones:

  • Garebeg is the biggest and best known and it is celebrated three times every year with giant cones made out of cooked rice and vegetables, fruit and decorations. These cones have specific names too, are cooked and prepared in rigid rituals and then paraded through the streets. Anybody who can grab a portion of any of them will have a fertile year ahead. 
  • Sekaten refers to the celebration of the birthday of Prophet Muhammad. Two of the sacred Gamelan Orchestras KK Guntur Madu and KK Nagawilaga are positioned at the North and South pavilions next to the big Mosque. During seven days these Gamelans, in turn, are played to mark the festivities of Sekaten.
  • Siraman is the cleaning and maintenance of the royal heirlooms by the Abdi Dalam servants according to strict rules and ceremonies. One can observe them in various places away from the palace, for example on the south beach of Yogyakarta.

We will organize Indonesia travel trips for these special days or periods of time; please sign up here if you are interested.

Favorite Hotels in Jogjakarta not Bali

We stayed in a homey and clean Guest House in walking distance from the Keraton. If you have to visit the famous Malioboro Street the 1001 Malam Hotel is your choice. Tom and Fithri love Green Host Hotel. And we stayed also at GQ Hotel close by the airport.

Indonesia Travel

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