Culture, Heritage and Royalty in Yogyakarta

20 years on since I last visited Yogyakarta, I can’t remember much except that I visited Borobudur with my family and I was holding on to a toy gun striking a pose. Earlier today, I revisited that childhood memory of mine and also visited a few other sites which I had been wanting to visit for the longest time.

The first stop today was to the farthest site on our map, Borobudur. Located about 1.5hours away from where we were staying, the journey at 0900hrs in the morning was long and hot. It helps that with a rented car and driver, one gets to sleep for literally the entire journey.

Peace at Borobudur

Peace at Borobudur

On arrival at Borobudur, it would have appeared that local visitors were charged differently from overseas visitors but thankfully for me, I probably still appear to look and speak like a local and thus, was given local rates. YAY! The walk and ascend up the Borobudur seemed like something I had gotten used to, although this was only the second time I’d been there – Familiarity and curiosity at new information that I was receiving and memories of my past.

Walking out, I spotted a guy selling what was one of the most memorable things I could remember when I was there 20 years ago, a toy parachute. In a blink of an eye and without negotiation, I purchased 3 of those. HEHEHE!

We then made our way to Mount Merapi, which had erupted several years ago and destroyed villages around it, including the gate keeper, the late Mbah Merijan. On our way up, we drove past a field of ashes and our driver told us that those are volcanic ashes which had covered entire villages and cleaning up was still being done. Cleaning up is not as easy as it seems as there are still some parts which are still hot.

The Late Mbah Merijan's House

The Late Mbah Merijan’s House

On arrival, it was extremely foggy and Mount Merapi was nowhere in sight and we decided to rent an off-road motorcycle to ride up to the farthest point that we could and also paid visit to the late Mbah Merijan’s home. There was nothing much left other than a few shops near the foothill of where Mbah Merijan used to live, serving food and drinks for visitors.

From there, we proceeded on to Kraton Yogyakarta, home to Kraton Ngayogyakarta where the current king, Hamengku Buwana X or better known as ‘H.B X’ resides. Unfortunately, the museum was closed as it was past its opening hours. So, we went to the Kraton Carriage museum instead to be served to a spectacle of horse carriages, most of which were made in England and some, in Indonesia.

One of many Royal Carriages

One of many Royal Carriages

Last stop for the night was definitely the spectacle of the day, and perhaps of this entire trip, and possibly, my life – a visit to the Royal Tomb of the great king, Mataram and his line of deceased descendants, Paku Buwana and Hamengku Buwana. This was the greatest experience of my life as I got to visit the Gate Keeper of the Royal Tomb (I wanted to visit Mbah Merijan previously but that didn’t happen) with a very special individual, who would definitely be given access to visit the Royal Tomb or perhaps even, to see the King anytime.

Entrance through the back gate or even visiting at night was only allowed for a selected group of people and I am indeed honoured to have been given the opportunity to visit the tomb and to have met the gate keeper. From what I have been informed, every time a member of the Royal family visit the tomb, there is a certain ritual which needs to be performed. A group of 20 individuals made up of those representing P.B and H.B who hold the keys to the tombs within will be activated to perform a set of religious rituals prior to receiving the members of the Royal family. These members of the Royal family who visit the Royal tomb will also have to be properly dressed and will also have to perform a set of rituals.

Above me is the entrance to the tomb of Mataram

Above me is the entrance to the tomb of Mataram

The Royal tomb, which is open for the public to visit (except behind those walls), are also highly encouraged to make monetary donations/contributions as these help towards keeping and ensuring that the gate keepers able to perform their jobs, which includes restoration works to damages done by nature or human and is often extremely costly and not entirely supported by the government.

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