YOGYAKARTA, HEART OF JAVANESE CULTURE
The Special Region of Yogyakarta is situated in the southern part of Central Java and the cultural heartland of Indonesia. It was the seat of the mighty Javanese empire of Mataram in the 16th and 17th centuries from which of many of its rich culture and traditions had its beginnings. It is the only province in Indonesia that is still governed by a Sultan (provincial rulers) whose kraton (palace) remains the hub of traditional life. Yogya also serves as the base for exploring nearby attractions, including Indonesias most important archaeological sites, Borobudur and Prambanan.
The provincial capital is Yogyakarta, or Yogya in short, also known as the City of Art and Culture. Located at the foot of Mount Merapi, an active volcano, this is a charming city with a mix of the modern and the old with hotels, restaurants, bars coexisting with the magnificent temples and the ruins of palaces and monasteries. Being one of the oldest cities in Indonesia, Yogya has many heritage buildings and monuments. Common sights in the city are local craftsmen practising their traditional arts of printing batik and making silverware and leather goods. Beyond culture Yogya is lively and a shoppers paradise. The main road, Malioboro Street, is always crowded and famous for its nightlife and street food. Many tourist shops and cheap hotels are concentrated along this street or in the adjoining tourist area, such Sosrowijayan Street.
Geography: The province is surrounded by the Central Java (Jawa Tengah) and the Indian Ocean in the south.
Climate: The average daily temperature ranges between 26oC and 28oC with its minimum at 18oC and maximum 35oC. Lying about 7o south of the Equator Yogyakarta is blessed with sunshine year round. These are two seasons – the wet/rainy season from September to August and the dry season for the rest of the year. Average annual rainfall is about 1,900m, with the heaviest rainfall in February and the lowest between May and October.
PLACES TO GO, THINGS TO DO
Kraton Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat
This is the key attraction of Yogya and is the Sultans kraton (palace) in the centre of Yogya. A walled city within the city, the palace stretches out from north to south. It is the centre of the citys traditional life and, despite the advance of modernity, the kraton still emanates the spirit of refinement, which has been the hallmark of Yogyas art for centuries. This vast complex, with its grand and elegant Javanese architecture, was built by Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwono I in 1755. The current Sultan resides in the kraton. The palace is open to the public to experience the elegant Javanese heritage.
A well-known landmark located in the centre of downtown Yogya, it was built by Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono VI. The top spire was originally a round sphere, which represents the universe. During the colonial era the spire was replaced with a golden cyli nder.
The Water Castle was built in 1758 by Sultan Hamengku Buwono I. Located in the older part of the Yogya the castle and part of the pleasure garden is now just an intriguing collection of ruins, pools, arches and underground passages enclosed by massive walls. The central courtyard with the nymph-bath has been restored.
This magnificent Shivaite Temple, about 17 kms east of Yogyakarta, derives its name from the village, Prambanan, where it is located. Locally known as the Loro Jongrang Temple or the Temple of the Slender Virgin, it is the biggest and most beautiful Hindu temple in Indonesia. It is believed to have been built by King Balitung Maha Sambu in the middle of the 9th century. The temple complex lies among green fields and villages. It has eight shrines, of which the three main ones are dedicated to Shiva, Visnhu and Brahma. Its parapets are adorned with a bas-relief depicting the famous Ramayana story. The main temple of Shiva rises to a height of 40m and houses the magnificent statue of Shivas consort, Durga. It has two open-air theatres, which host performances of the Ramayana ballet on full moon nights, from May to October.
This unique Buddhist temple is located about 16 kms east of Yogya. It was built in honour of the marriage between King Pancapana of the Sanjaya Dynasty and Dyah Pramudya, a princess of the Cailendra Dynasty. It is 24m high and its base built in the form of a Greek cross. It is beautifully decorated with finely carved reliefs and coated with vajralepa, a yellowish material made from tree sap. The vajralepa acts as an adhesive and protects the temple from moss and mildew, while at the same time refines the carvings.
A resort on the slopes of Mount Merapi, 24 kms north of Yogyakarta, its attraction is the cool air, the Telogo Muncar Waterfall and swimming pool. Bungalows are available for rent.