Last month, Yogyakarta was packed with people, cars and tourist buses. A legion of schoolkids from Java, along with their parents, crowded into Yogyakarta’s narrow streets, making it feel like Jakarta.
Areas like Jalan Malioboro and parts of Jalan Parangtritis are the usual spots where tourist converge. A few hundred meters away is the Sultan’s Palace.
To the east is the Prambanan temple. A drive up north will take you to the Kaliurang Highlands and the famed Borobudur temple. To the south are Parangtritis and other beaches.
But Yogyakarta’s southern reaches have other treasures in store for visitors willing to explore places not mentioned in travel guidebooks or Web sites.
Not too far from Parangtritis or Parangkusumo lies the small village of Girijati — home of historic and beautiful spots like the Beji spring, Gua Tapan cave and the terraced Gembirowati building.
In the village, you can find many affordable lodgings perched on hills overlooking the ocean.
Located about a kilometer away from the coastline, the village rests on the western fringe of Gunung Kidul, a district where rivers are known to flow hundreds of meters underground.
From the admission gate at Parangtritis, head straight until you reach an uphill road. Turn right at a fork in the road and you will see Sendang Beji, which means spring in Javanese.
Beji’s clear and cool waters run through Girijati like sheets of ice amid the greenery.
Somewhat unknown, Beji spring is an outlet of one of the rivers.
It is the setting of a well-known folktale about a man named Jaka Tarub who stole the shawl of a goddess named Nawang Wulan, preventing her from flying back to heaven.
Tugiran, a caretaker at Beji, said pilgrims come to the site to perform rituals on malam jumat kliwon , or the night before kliwon (one of the five-day weeks in the Javanese calendar).
The rituals are held when kliwon falls on a Friday.