A Tale from Yogyakarta #1: The Sultanate Water Castle

I always love to visit Yogyakarta, both for pleasure or works. Not only because of the cheaper price for almost everything, but Yogyakarta always has its story or memories for their visitors. Usually, Jakartans always love to have a short escape to Yogyakarta, just to avoid a busy and ‘crowd life’ in there. I think some of Jakartans agreed of what I said. We are just in love with the weather, the street, the food, the atmosphere, the souvenir places, the cheap batik, the historical site and many more.

Yes, I love visiting the historical site in every cities or country I’ve visited. Taman Sari in Yogyakarta is one of the examples. I have visited the water castle once with my fiance during our trip to Yogyakarta. Been several times visiting Yogyakarta, I just went there once and it was last time with him. Taman Sari becomes an Instagrammable place that you should visit while you are in Yogyakarta.

Once upon a time— the Sultanate of Yogyakarta built the water castle as the royal garden of the Sultanate. It was built in the midst of 18th century and was very famous and commonly used as a bathing place. Built during the reign of Sultan Hamengkubuwono I (1755 – 1792), the first sultan of Yogyakarta and was completed by the time of Sultan Hamengkubuwono II. There are few version of this water castle histories, according to Kitab Mamana in Yogyakarta Kraton, the project leader for the construction of Taman Sari was Tumenggung Mangundipura. He had travelled twice to Batavia to learn all about European architecture, no wonder the architecture of this water castle has marks of European style. It was also built three years after the Giyanti Agreement—the agreement between Prince Mangkubumi, the Dutch East India company and Sunan Pakubuwono III which divided the eastern half of the Sultanate of Mataram in Java was given to Pakubuwono III with Surakarta as its capital, while the western half was given to Prince Mangkubumi with its capital in Yogyakarta—as a resting place of the First Sultan.

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Umbul Pasiraman or also known by Umbul Binangun, the main area of Sultanate’s Bathhouse

Maybe some of you have already visited Taman Sari while you were in Yogyakarta. As you all know, currently, the water castle has turned into one of must-visit touristic place in Yogyakarta. In some part of the castle is well-preserved by the local government and communities who live around the castle. A long time ago, it consisted of 59 buildings complex and some of them were fell out after an earthquake happened in 1867, which destroyed several buildings and drained the water features. And the only building which has restored is only the bathing complex.

Umbul Pasiraman or commonly referred to Umbul Binangunis—a sultan’s bathhouse for princesses and concubines are punctuated by high walls on each side. Umbul Pasiraman has 3 pools named Umbul Muncar, Blumbang Kuras and Umbul Binangun which is decorated with the fountain and can be accessed through two gates to enter the West and East part. In the North, there is a building used for the places of the sisters and daughters of the sultan, while in the South there is a tower used by the Sultan to clean the concubines and his daughter who was bathing below.

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Another part of the bathhouse

When you walk out from the main area of the site, you will see the underwater tunnel that used connected to the lake, but since the water had been drained it is now used for the community settlement. To get to the place, you have to pass the Tajug, the hallway which connects Taman Sari with the palace and also Pulo Kenongo. This wide underground passage is to secure the Keraton from a dangerous situation. There are many secret rooms in this area. When you exit from the Tajug, you will see the former Pulo Kenongo which was once overgrown with kenanga flowers.

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Tajug, the hallway
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Me in Sumur Gumuling, an Istagrammable spot in Taman Sari area
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Me posing in the hall connects to the place where the Sultan looking out the ladies’ shower in the water castle

We also went to Sumur Gumuling, the underground mosque as the place of worship for the royal family. To get to the centre of this mosque, we had to pass through the long and dark alleys. Arriving in the middle of the mosque in the form of a square-shaped place with 5 steps around.

I recommend you to visit Taman Sari during the morning because usually, they will close early in the afternoon around 3-4 pm. The location it’s easy to access by becak or motorcycle or private car. It’s close to Keraton and Alun-alun Utara.

 

Address: Komplek Wisata Taman Sari, Taman, Patehan, Kraton, Patehan, Kraton, Kota Yogyakarta, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta 55133

2 thoughts on “A Tale from Yogyakarta #1: The Sultanate Water Castle

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