Temples, volcanoes and the blue, blue, sea - Tourism Indonesia




Sunday, January 20, 2008

Temples, volcanoes and the blue, blue, sea

Yogya is renowned for its handicrafts. Javanese puppet shows – wayang kulit – are legendary. Each handmade filigree leather puppet takes weeks to create and at night, the puppets, silhouetted behind screens, perform tales from the Hindu epic poems, usually from the Ramayana, to the accompaniment of gamelan music.
Java is also famous for its textiles – specifically batik, and down Jalan Malioboro you will not be able to move for shops or touts inviting you in to see batik exhibitions. In some of the bigger craft shops selling a range of wall hangings, clothes and masks, you can also watch artists preparing the fabric.
At the heart of Yogyakarta is Kraton, a ‘city within a city’, housing the sultanate palace complex, the main parts of which were built in the eighteenth century, although the area has developed over many centuries. Kraton is home to around 25,000 people and is characterised by its gorgeous maze of back streets all containing hidden gems, such as puppet workshops or small cafés, and neat little buildings huddle among the ruins of the original city walls. Once inside it is worth visiting the Water Castle, the Sultan’s secret pleasure park, where he used to entertain his harem.

But the main reason for staying in Yogya is as a base from which to visit Borobudur, 42 km northwest of the city. It is the largest Buddhist monument in existence, built in the eighth century, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The vast grey mountain of 1.6 million Andesite volcanic stones rises to a height of 34.5 metres and is thought to have taken around 75 years to construct. Each of the nine tiers is lined with beautifully preserved relief sculptures and the monument houses 500 statues of the Buddha, many of which, however, were tragically decapitated by the earthquake last year.

Getting there
There are regular flights buses and trains between Jakarta and Yogyakarta;
Adisucipto airport is 8 km to the east of the city, Umbunharjo long distance bus terminal is situated 4km from the city centre and the train station is located right in the city centre on Jala Pasar Kembang. Flights from Jakarta to Bali cost around $75.
Flights between Jakarta and Yogyakarta or Yogyakarta and Bali all cost around $45.

Full article by Isobel Shirlaw

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