After spending 5 days in Bali, we headed west of Indonesia to explore Yogyakarta and its ancient temples. We spent 3 days and 2 nights to see the famed UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Prambanan and Borobudur. But there are also equally interesting, historical and beautiful destinations we’ve seen in between. So here’s the list of those and with photos of course.
1. Taman Sari Water Castle
Built in mid-18th century and listed as a tentative World Heritage Site, Taman Sari is a royal garden for the Sultanate of Yogyakarta. It is a complex of pools, pavilions and canals. I especially like the ivory colored façade and walls and the stories shared to us by our tour guide. I always appreciate old and historical sites like this where I can walk along the same corridors and paths people from the past did.
The bathing complex is well-preserved and although most parts of this sites had become settlement areas throughout the years, it is interesting to see how the past blends harmoniously with the present. The photo below is a part of the Kampung Taman settlement and these wall arts reflect the rich heritage of the Yogyakarta sultanate.
2. Kraton / Sultan Palace
Near the Water Castle is the Yogyakarta Palace or the Kraton. Without towering structures, the palace is expansive in area. It houses several museums related to the sultanate and offers performances of traditional music and instruments. The guards of the palace are in full regalia and they have organized well the coming and going of tourists.
3. Mt. Merapi
Indonesia’s most active volcano is located on the border between Yogyakarta and Central Java. The last eruption was in 2010 devastating its surroundings and killing more than 300 people. It was really cloudy and drizzling when we get there so we were not able to see the conical shape of the volcano. But we still rented a guided tour on a motorbike to take us to locations of the devastation (cars cannot enter such sites). The eruption covered several houses including a river.
In the middle of a sleepy village of rice fields, the Sambisari Hindu temple was accidentally discovered by a local farmer in 1966. Excavation and reconstruction followed suit until it was finally completed in 1987. Five meters of the temple is still buried underground. It is believed to have been covered during one of Mt. Merapi’s eruption.
5. Tara Temple
Other than Borobudur, there are other Buddhist temples in Yogykarta like the Tara Temple which is the oldest Buddhist inheritance there and completed in 778 A.D. Its lawn has a large boddhi tree beautifully complementing its smaller structure and as magnificent as its famous counterpart.
6. Plaosan Temple
Plaosan Temple is another Buddhist temple located just a kilometer away from the Hindu Prambanan. Built in mid-9th century, there are 174 small buildings, 116 are stupas and 58 shrines. I noticed that among all temples we visited, this one probably receives the least attention in terms of reconstruction. There was no organized ticketing and ruins are scattered around. Nevertheless, its magnificence remains.
Entrance fees can be found here.