Unfolding the Grandeur of Tamansari Nyayogyakarta
Picture this with me: you’ve finally did your research on the places you are going to visit. You were amazed by how vibrant and magnificent the places were based from the different travel blogs that you visited, and now you are ready to immerse yourself to the beauty that is already just steps away from where you are standing. But then when you are already inside, you suddenly realized that those stunning photographs were not the real thing.
Going back to my blog article…
Visiting castles or palaces never fails to mesmerize us. It is the reason that we included the Tamansari which literally means “A Beautiful Garden” in our itinerary while staying in Yogyakarta. It was Hamengkubuwono I who started to design the Tamansari, which was composed of bathing pools, meditational chambers, and underground tunnels and was surrounded by artificial lake and lavish gardens during the 18th century.
Tamansari was also known among the foreigners as the Water Castle. Located 500 meters in the southwest of Keraton, Tamansari was used to be the royal garden of the Sultanate of Yogyakarta. It has turned into the image of the glory of the Materam King and was built for three purposes, which were for protection, for religion, and for recreation.
Puzzled on the proper way of circumnavigating the palace, Steven and I decided to hire a tourist guide. He was an Indonesian man which I thought was around on his late 50’s, dark, and speaks English in a rapid manner. I was not sure how much we paid him in exact so I sent a message to Steven. Curiosity filled my mind if he could still remember the amount of money for the tourist guide. After few minutes, he replied that it was around 500 IDR. Well, that is the beauty of having a travel buddy. I know I can always depend on him on information that had already escaped my mind.
This area was covert with huge walls and could only be accessed by means of two gates that makes it somewhat like a hidden or secret place.
It is a very interesting place with a good architecture and a wonderful history. Its architecture was influenced by several elements such as Hindu, Buddhist, Javanese and Islam. Furthermore, the evidence of Chinese, European, and Portuguese elements also contributed to it aesthetics.
There were three swimming pools in the Tamansari. One was called Umbul Kawitan which was used by the Sultan’s children. The other was called Umbul Pamuncar which was used by the Sultan’s consorts and behind the tower was the Umbul Panguras which was the Sultan’s private pool.
This bathing complex also has a tower where the Sultan would have a chance to observe the women’s activities in the pool. The Sultan chose the woman he would like to be with by throwing a rose to the pool. The women who would got it would be the Sultan’s concubine and would stay with him or accompany him in his room.
Our tour guide invited us to see the other part of the Tamansari. The only frustrating part was that it was not well-maintained by the locals. As we followed our tour guide , we noticed that the place which was said to be surrounded by water before was now surrounded by houses and small business shops like batik paintings, batik clothes and other kind of souvenirs. This residential area was called Kampung Taman.
I almost forgot that I was still in the Tamansari when I saw lines of houses. Surprisingly, Tamansari was surrounded by a community of people and it looked more of a village rather than a tourist destination. The place which was once exclusive to royal family members are now densely populated with people in Keraton. The people in Keraton were allowed to live in Tamansari on a note that they cannot have proprietary rights. If the government asked them to evacuate the place, they have no choice but to agree.
Inside the Sultan Sleeping Quarter
Sumur Gumuling – The Underground Mosque of Tamansari
This mosque underground served as a hideout. It was intended for protection. Sumur Gumuling has a circular structure so that if there would be an important message that everyone must know, it would be able to echo and everyone could hear the message. Moreover, it was built in circular shape so that the people will pray wholeheartedly, far away from any distractions.
Tamansari was abandoned after Hamengkubuwono I died. The gardens and the buildings were ruined due to the Java war (1825-1830). In addition to that, an earthquake on 1867 caused a more severe damage. A reconstruction was done in the early 1970’s. Unfortunately, only the central pools have been completely rebuilt.
Tamansari compound has been regarded as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995. Similarly to other Unesco World Heritage Places, Tamansari has still a long way to go restoring the old structures that were ruined.
Eventhough, what we witnessed in Tamansari was not the exact image that we saw in Google, we still fell in love with its grandeur history, with the wisdom and artistry of the people involved in the existence of Tamansari or Water Castle.
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