Yogyakarta – Indonesia is renowned as a center of education and classic Javanese fine arts and is home to some ancient historical sites including the infamous Borobudur and Prambanan temple. The city offers a myriad of attractions ranging from vibrant city life with its shopping centers, traditional culinary, arts festivals and performances, handicraft centers to an array of panoramic mountainous landscapes and beaches within a short distance from the city center. It is for these reasons that we have included a city tour in our agenda to give participants an opportunity to get a flavor of Yogyakarta.
1) Yogyakarta Palace (Kraton Yogyakarta)
Kraton Kasultanan Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat, or now better known by the name of Yogyakarta Palace, is the center of Javanese culture living museum that is in the Special Region Yogykarta (Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta). It is not just the place where the King and his family live, it is also the original hub of cultural development of Java. At the Yogyakarta palace, tourists can learn and see directly how the Javanese culture continues to live and be preserved. Yogyakarta Palace was built by Pangeran Mangkubumi (Prince Mangkubumi ) in 1755, several months after the signing of the Perjanjian Giyanti (the Giyanti Agreement). Banyan forest (Hutan Beringin) was designated as the place to build the palace because the land was between two rivers and thus protected from possible flooding. Although It has been in place for hundreds of years and was once damaged by the massive earthquake in 1867, Yogyakarta Palace buildings still stands firmly and has been well maintained to date.
Kotagede undeniably becomes the biggest center of silver handicrafts in Indonesia, surpassing Bali, Lombok and Kendari. Different silver handicrafts in various forms are made through many stages in a place that is located around 10 kilometers of Yogyakarta city center. Since 70s, silver handicrafts from Kotagede either in the form of jewelry, household utensils or accessories have attracted foreign tourists.
Now, Kotagede does not only offer the luxury of its silver handicrafts, but also an opportunity to learn the process of its making. A short course as long as three hours to a couple of days offers your alternative tour package including designing silver handicraft, making it and finally bringing the product you made yourself home. One of the places you can enjoy such a tour package is Studio 76.
Preliminary step of the course is designing the jewelry. You are free to choose the kind of jewelry and its design. After determining the design, the process is continued by transferring the design to the mould and forging it. After being forged, the sheet of brass or bronze as the raw material is forged using soft tin. Afterwards, the material is set as you wish and is polished with silver through plating process.
If you have more time, you may choose to learn making silver jewelries that is even more beautiful. In order to make it, you must learn to carve the metal sheet as the raw material before you polish it. If you like, you can choose to make jewelries of which forms resemble woven wires with silver coating at the outer part. In fact, the more beautiful and detailed of the jewelries, the more valuable they are in other people’s eyes
3) TEMBI House of Culture Yogyakarta
It’s so quiet village. Traditional nuance is still deeply felt, from both the houses and local people’s daily activities. This village is surrounded by paddy fields. Guess where am I? Yes , you’re right! I stand up in the middle of Tembi Village. Tembi Village is one of tourism villages in Jogjakarta, located in the south of Jogja, about 10 kilometers from the city center.
When you entered the village, you can find houses with typical Javanese architecture such as limasan and joglo. Although there are some new buildings, the traditional ambiance of lingers. You can occasionally see people going around on their bikes and greet each other when they meet.
You could be involved on their daily activities too. Because most of the local is farmer, you can join with them to cultivate the land with traditional technique, using some buffaloes to plow the field. Then, you can learn how to plant paddies. When you visit during harvest season, local people can accompany you to harvest the paddies. Interesting, isn’t it ? But don’t let yourself tired because you must go around the village by ‘dokar’, a traditional transportation drawn with a horse. There’s a coachman and a guide will accompany you. At the first stop, you will visit Rumah Budaya Tembi ( Tembi House of Culture) where you can get a lot of information about Jogja. Take a look inside, sometimes at this place is held art performances both traditional or contemporary.
In the Dutch colonial time, in one of the areas at the southern part of Yogyakarta there was a shocking and even threatening occurrence with the finding of a dead horse owned by a Dutch detective on a rice field of a villager. Being afraid of punishment, the villager gave up his land ownership and did not acknowledge his land anymore. This was followed by other villagers. This given up land was then possessed by people of other village. Having no more fields to cultivate, the local people ended up with becoming ceramics craftsmen to make toys and kitchen sets until now. This was revealed in an interview by Prof. Gustami at all with local elders in 1980s.
It is that area that we know it as Kasongan until present time; a village in Kajen hamlet that is situated in low mountains with limestone soil. It takes 15-20 minutes drive from the city center. Kasongan village is the dwelling place of kundis, which means earthenware jugs and later refers to people who make any earthenware jug-like as kitchen tools and ornaments. “Beginning from our ancestor’s habit to knead clay that turns out not to break when it is united, and begin to make some functions for kid toys and kitchen tools. The habit was then descended to current generation,” said Giman, one of the workers in Loro Blonyo workshop.
Visiting Kasongan village, the tourists will be welcomed warmly by local inhabitants. They may have a look the showroom crowded with ceramic handicrafts. If they are interested in seeing the ceramics making, tourists can visit some ceramic galleries that produce the special handicrafts at site. The processes are material kneading, shaping, drying that takes 2-4 days and burning before finally being finished using wall paint or roof-tile paint. Working collectively, a gallery is usually a family business run from generation to the next generation. Even though ceramics making is now involving neighbors of surrounding dwelling place of the gallery owner, the family is still responsible for material selection and production monitoring.
5) BOROBUDUR TEMPLE: An Architectural Masterpiece of 9th Century
Standing long before Angkor Wat in Cambodia and the great cathedrals in Europe, Borobudur Temple has stood gallantly in the land of Java. The building called by UNESCO as the most magnificent and the largest monument and stupa complex in the world is visited by pilgrims in the mid-ninth century until the beginning of the 11th century. Buddhist people who want to get enlightened were flocking from India, Cambodia, Tibet, and China. Not only magnificent and large, Borobudur Temple wall panels are filled with 2672 sculptured reliefs which if arranged in row, it will reach a length of 6 km! It is praised as the largest and the most complete Buddha reliefs ensemble in the world, unmatched in artistic value.
6) PRAMBANAN TEMPLE: The Most Beautiful Hindu Temple in the World
Prambanan temple is extraordinarily beautiful building constructed in the tenth century during the reigns of two kings namely Rakai Pikatan and Rakai Balitung. Soaring up to 47 meters (5 meters higher than Borobudur temple), the foundation of this temple has fulfilled the desire of the founder to show Hindu triumph in Java Island. This temple is located 17 kilometers from the city center, among an area that now functions as beautiful park. There is a legend that Javanese people always tell about this temple. As the story tells, there was a man named Bandung Bondowoso who loved Roro Jonggrang. To refuse his love, Jonggrang asked Bondowoso to make her a temple with 1,000 statues only in one-night time. The request was nearly fulfilled when Jonggrang asked the villagers to pound rice and to set a fire in order to look like morning had broken. Feeling to be cheated, Bondowoso who only completed 999 statues cursed Jonggrang to be the thousandth statue.