Unfolding the Grandeur of Tamansari Nyayogyakarta

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. Unfolding the Grandeur of Tamansari Nyayogyakarta

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.

Unfolding the Grandeur of Tamansari Nyayogyakarta

This gate is known as the gate in the East or the Gedong Gapura Panggung.

Unfolding the Grandeur of Tamansari Nyayogyakarta

This is the Gedong Gapura Hageng which was used to be the main gateway to the west.

Unfolding the Grandeur of Tamansari Nyayogyakarta

This was the bathing complex or the Umbul Pasiraman decorated with mushroom shape fountains.

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.

Unfolding the Grandeur of Tamansari Nyayogyakarta

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.

Unfolding the Grandeur of Tamansari Nyayogyakarta

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.

Unfolding the Grandeur of Tamansari Nyayogyakarta

Graffiti along the 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.

Unfolding the Grandeur of Tamansari Nyayogyakarta

Tamansari’s Gates for the Sultan’s guards

Inside the Sultan Sleeping Quarter

Unfolding the Grandeur of Tamansari Nyayogyakarta

Wooden bed of the Sultan on top of three small furnaces which would be filled with hot charcoal to warm the bed.

Unfolding the Grandeur of Tamansari Nyayogyakarta

Unfolding the Grandeur of Tamansari Nyayogyakarta

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.

Unfolding the Grandeur of Tamansari Nyayogyakarta

Unfolding the Grandeur of Tamansari Nyayogyakarta

Unfolding the Grandeur of Tamansari Nyayogyakarta

The elevated platform in the Sumur Gumuling.

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.

Unfolding the Grandeur of Tamansari Nyayogyakarta


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Ana Rose Alvaro

Ana Rose was born and raised in the Philippines. A full-time teacher and a part-time student. She loves her simple and yet adventurous life with her wonderful family, great friends, and supportive boyfriend. Roads and Pages serves as her outlet to share what she loves to do the most in her life. Those are spending time with people who matter the most, reading books, and traveling one country at a time.

6 Comments to Unfolding the Grandeur of Tamansari Nyayogyakarta

  1. Awesome journey! I’ve been there myself, both Taman Sari and the Sumur Gumuling underground mosque. They told us about the Roro Kidul myth – the queen of the south seas that the Sultan of Yogyakarta ceremonially marries – and that the Taman Sari is supposed to be a replica of Roro Kidul’s undersea palace. It’s a neat little myth that makes Yogyakarta far more fascinating; it’s not just a city in central Java anymore.

    • Ana Rose Alvaro says:

      Thank you for that additional information Mike. That thing about Roro Kidul is interesting. Would search more about it because it wasn’t mentioned by our tour guide that time.

  2. Mai Taup says:

    Palaces and temples are really inspiring to visit. You could just imagine how the people who used to occupy it live their life. I would love to visit Yogyakarta next time if we have a chance. I love Indonesia! We’ve visited Bali last year and its nice. The food is just so good, especially their Martabak. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Swayam says:

    Thanks, Ana Rose for this beautiful article. It transported me to the days of the Sultan and his harem. I see that you have used the word, Gapura, in this article. In Sanskrit, Gopur means gate, so here is this commonality.
    Lots of beautiful pictures, plus a judicious use of words in a pleasant font makes this post eminently readable.

  4. nice and wonderful info
    thank you 🙂 🙂

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