Saturday, 26 October 2013

Yogyakarta - Kraton, Taman Sari and Water Castle Cafe

 Yogyakarta was the Indonesian capital during the Indonesia National Revolution (1945 to 1949) after Jakarta fell into the hands of the Dutch. Due to its significant contribution at that time, Yogyakarta was given the status of Special Administrative Region. This makes Yogyakarta the only region headed by a monarchy in Indonesia.

The Kraton, or the Sri's Sultan Palace, is around 2 km from the southern end of Jalan Malioboro. Admission for foreign tourist is IDR 12,500 per person, IDR 1,000 extra for the camera. The fee is inclusive of a guide. The guide that received Galen and I spoke good English, and told us that he has been a guide for the Kraton for 40 years!

Yogkarta Kraton Complex

Yogkarta Kraton Hall

Architecture of the Kraton took references from Malay, Indian, Chinese culture, making Yogyakarta truly a centre of cultural influences. The main complex houses a hall area where the Sultan would enjoy his entertainment by musicians and dancers. Surrounding the hall are little houses that served as preparation rooms for them. The hall is very airy and cooling, even in the scorching heat of the Yogyakarta sun, and the structure allows very good acoustics. Talk about royalty treatment!

Way to Yogyakarta Taman Sari (Water Castle)

The Taman Sari (the Water Castle), another 2km away from the Kraton, was built for entertainment purposes too- for the pleasure of first Sultan. One of the pool is specially for the wives and concubines of the Sultan, and he would take his pick while they frolicked in it. Sounds frivolous, ain't it? But the architecture is nothing of frivolity.

Ruins of Yogyakarta Taman Sari (Water Castle)

Yogyakarta Taman Sari (Water Castle)

Beyond this small, stooping gate was a fascinating network of tunnels and rooms. A place for pleasure and entertainment indeed!

Door of Yogyakarta Taman Sari (Water Castle)

Walkway of Yogyakarta Taman Sari (Water Castle)

Tunnels of Yogyakarta Taman Sari (Water Castle)

The interior was really cooling and seemed to freeze time once again. We took some time to explore every tunnel and room, though some were dark and looked forbidding.

Way to Water Castle Cafe

What's not to be missed on a trip to the Taman Sari is a stop at the Water Castle Cafe. Situated just outside the entrance of the water castle, you can't miss it either.

Interior of Water Castle Cafe

View from Water Castle Cafe

Mee Goreng from Water Castle Cafe

Gado gado from Water Castle Cafe

The Water Castle Cafe serves a variety of hot food and beverages. This was a lunch stop for Galen and I, so we had mains. The Mee Goreng was flavourful with tons and tons of vegetable. What really surprised us was the Gado Gado - it was completely different from what we had in mind! The Singapore version would have rice cakes, beancurd, beansprouts and prawn crackers drizzled in a peanut sauce. The Yogyakarta version was truly refreshing! It was a wonderful basket of freshly boiled vegetables- all still sweet and succulent, and matched really well with the mildy spicy peanut sauce. They had the sweetest baby corn I've ever tasted!

The Water Castle Cafe is a good place to spend the afternoon, away from the sweltering heat. The interior is full of little charming details, and the Indonesian traditional music playing softly in the background transported us way back in time. The owners speak decent English and are really friendly and chatty.

The Water Castle Cafe
Address: Inside Taman Sari, Yogyakarta

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