Sunday, July 26, 2009

Yogyakarta, A District That Thrives On History And Tradition

Yogyakarta, a province in the island of Jawa, is different from the rest as it is the only place in Indonesia ruled by a monarchy that is steeped in history and tradition.

The monarchy originates from the Sultanate of Mataram that predates to the eighth century and has contributed significantly to Yogyakarta's rich history, nature, and the traditional and cultural activities of its people.

The role of the monarchy was given due recognition by the Indonesian Federal Government through the Special Region Province status for Yogyakarta when Indonesia gained independence.

But beyond the monarchy, Yogyakarta is an alluring destination for any visitor.

This is the district that houses the world's biggest Buddhist monument, the Borobudur, and a Hindu temple known as Prambanan that is considered one of the biggest in Southeast Asia. Both have been declared as world heritage sites by UNESCO.

Another draw to Yogyakarta is its volcano. The Gunung Merapi is the most active in Indonesia since 1548 and last erupted in 2006. At present it draws visitors keen to view the impact from the last eruption and the smoke from its peak.

BOROBUDUR THE BEAUTIFUL MONUMENT

Two of the compelling tourist assets of Yogyakarta is the Borobudur monument built by followers of Buddhism during the Sailendra dynasty from 750 AD to 850 and the Prambanan temple by the Hindus from the era of the Mataram rule in 856.

The monument and the temple, that was discovered two centuries ago, attracts thousands of locals and foreigners to Yogyakarta.

SULTAN'S PALACE

Another thing that the visitors to Yogyakarta should not miss is the `Kraton Sultan', which is the royal palace that has been turned into a museum to exhibit the royal regalia, and the history and the genealogy of the royal family beginning with Sultan Hamengkubuwono I who started his reign in 1756.

What is important is that the culture and traditions of the palace dwellers have been preserved until now with the men there dressed in 'kain Jawa', with the keris tucked behind the waist with a headpiece known as 'blangkon'. The women wrap their bodies with a sarong like cloth from their breast to their knees.
There is also another nearby palace known as Pura Pakualaman and a retreat for the royal family known as Istana Air Taman Sari that is complete with bath pool resembling Roman architecture.

RAMAYANA'S EPIC RE-ENACTED THROUGH BALLET

In many parts of Yogyakarta there are many outlets selling batik Jawa, silver craft, leather craft, pottery and keris.

Yogyakarta is also seen as the leading cultural centre with cultural performances like the Ramayana's epic re-enacted through ballet and the `wayang kulit' (shadow play) held each night in the city, set to entertain visitors coming here.

According to the head of the Indonesia Tourism Board for Yogyakarta, Bapak Tazbir, the royal capital is among the districts in Indonesia popular with Malaysian visitors.

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