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The Keraton, Yogyakarta
At the palace in the Indonesian city of Yogyakarta, there are two honours passed down through the generations.
In both cases, when a son is born, the father knows his child will one day take on a special responsibility. It is the right and the duty of the child to follow in the footsteps of his ancestors.
One of these honours is to become the Sultan of Yogyakarta, a hereditary title that dates back to the eighteenth century.
The other great honour that stays in the family is to be a guard at the palace.
It is not just royalty that passes on the job to the next generation, but also those who dedicate their lives to the royal protection.
Today, there are two thousand palace guards in total. Only about one thousand are active, though.
It’s a job for life, so as they get older and can’t physically work anymore, they are looked after rather than being thrown out of service.
On any particular day there are about one hundred palace guards actually working.
The palace is known in Yogyakarta as the Keraton. Although it’s open for visitors in the morning, it is still a functioning part of the political sphere here in the region.
The sultan holds that particular title in name, not power, since the declaration of Indonesian independence in 1945 – but he is also automatically the governor of the region. Therefore the Keraton is used for official functions, political meetings, and as the royal residence.
There is also a cultural link with the compound and the people. In some ways it is almost a spiritual connection.
The Keraton was designed to reflect the Javanese cosmos. It faces towards the volcanic Mount Merapi in one direction and towards the Indian Ocean, home of the important Indonesian sea spirit, in the other.
The placement of the pavilions, the courtyards and even the trees all have a significance within the traditional spiritual view of the world by the local people.
But, look a bit closer, and you’ll also see in the intricate designs an integration of the faiths that have influenced this part of Indonesia over the years.
There are Buddhist, Islamic and Hindi elements to much of the decoration in the central part of the palace.
From my experience, most of Indonesia is very proud of their heritage. But those in Yogyakarta seem more enthusiastic than others to continue weaving it into daily modern life.
The Keraton and the connection with the people is a strong one. There seems to be a genuine affection and respect for the leadership amongst the people here.
This palace complex is the bridge between the old and the new and the faith that binds the cultures.
A couple of good cheap and comfortable options are OYO 347 Bayang Brothers Residence and Aloha Hotel Yogyakarta.
For some ecofriendly accommodation, there's the affordable Greenhost Boutique Hotel in town or the Yabbiekayu Eco-Bungalows just out of the centre.
And for some luxury, I would recommend the Sofia Boutique Residence.
Time Travel Turtle was a guest of the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism but the opinions, over-written descriptions and bad jokes are his own.
WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT INDONESIA?
To help you plan your trip to Indonesia:
- How to see Komodo dragons at Komodo National Park
- Indonesia’s most incredible heritage site
- Take a boat into the jungle to meet the wild orangutans
- Go beyond Bali’s tourism to find the spirits in the rice fields
- Why Raja Ampat is probably the world’s best diving
- Visiting the majestic Prambanan Temple in Yogyakarta
- The best things to do in central Jakarta
- Take a jeep ride up the dangerous Mount Merapi
- Learning to code on a inspiring retreat in Bali
Let someone else do the work for you:
You may also want to consider taking a tour of Indonesia, rather than organising everything on your own. It’s also a nice way to have company if you are travelling solo.
I am a ‘Wanderer’ with G Adventures and they have great tours of Indonesia.
You could consider:
When I travel internationally, I always get insurance. It’s not worth the risk, in case there’s a medical emergency or another serious incident. I recommend you should use World Nomads for your trip.