The pearl of Java

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Jogjakarta (Jogja), also often spelled as Yogyakarta, is a city in Central Java, Indonesia, and has for centuries been the cultural capital of Java. With its palaces, museums and countless art galleries, Jogja is definitely worth a visit of at least a few days. At the centre of the city is the beautiful kraton, or the Sultan’s palace – Jogja is the capital of the province of the same name which is ruled by a Sultan.

Things to do and see in Yogyakarta

Bechak

Bechaks in Jogja

The Kraton is a wonderful showcase of craftmanship with its rich wood carvings and reliefs. It’s also a great venue to catch fascinating cultural performances, like the gamelan. The nearby ‘Water palace’ is also worth a visit. Jalan Malioboro, with its shops, cafés, restaurants, markets, sidewalk stalls and hotels is the city’s main thoroughfare. You could spend a whole day just browsing around the arts and crafts stores. If you’re tired from all that walking, hop onto one of the many bechaks (tricycle taxis) for a unique local experience. Jogja is especially famed for its silverware, batik paintings and Indonesian puppets (used in the traditional wayang or puppet shows). Don’t forget to bargain!

Jogja is a great base from which to explore the historical treasures in the area, such as the Borobudur and the Prambanan. In addition, it is also possible to arrange day trips from Jogja to the nearby volcanos, Merapi (one of Indonesia’s most active) and the Daeng Plateau (the drive to the plateau passes quaint villages and rice terraces, and the mountain scenery is simply astounding).

Borobudur-photo

Borobudur

Borobudur is a magnificent Buddhist monument situated approximately 45 kilometers from Jogja. The complex, the largest Buddhist monument in the world, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The main monument of the huge complex consists of six step-like square platforms, three circular platforms and topped by a dome, and is richly decorated with thousands of stunning reliefs and several hundred Buddhas. Built in the ninth century AD, the complex is amazingly well-preserved while its immense size and beautiful reliefs that illustrate the life of Lord Buddha (all 2,672 of them) are truly impressive.

Prambanan

Prambanan

Also located in the vicinity of Jogja is one of the most beautiful Hindu temple complexes I’ve ever seen: Prambanan. This complex, dominated by a stunning 47 meter tower, is another UNESCO World Heritage Site and exudes a mythical aura that is simply breathtaking. The area around Prambanan boasts other Hindu and Buddhist architectural jewels such as the Plaosan temple.

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7 Responses to “The pearl of Java”

  1. Nurfuadi 20/06/2012 7:51 am
    #

    It’s always interesting to see what foreign tourists write about Indonesia…
    Talking about arts and crafts, we just made a video about leather craft “tatah sungging” made in tourism village Wukirsari, Yogyakarta. Make sure to check it out if you have time 🙂 http://youtu.be/8IUdUrdHOTU
    It might not have detail information about how you can get leather souvenirs directly from the craftsmen. But we already summarize how it is actually made, by steps. Enjoy 🙂

  2. Rob 06/09/2009 11:47 pm
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    Hoi Keith, te gek, trekt me even terug naar 1992 toen ik daar was. Heb nog een mooie doek van Jogyakarta…en de Boeddha’s die ik aanraakte hebben zeker Geluk gebracht… selamat datang (of was t djalang?) greetz Rob

  3. Dave and Deb 05/09/2009 4:32 pm
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    Hey Keith,

    This looks amazing. When we were in Indonesia we never made it there and this makes me a little bummed that we didn’t. Maybe next time…

  4. velvet 05/09/2009 6:40 am
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    Wow, that sounds awesome. The Ramayana ballet is beautiful and that stunning backdrop must’ve added lots of magic to the performance.
    Thanks for your comment.

    Best regards,
    Keith

  5. fardan 05/09/2009 6:14 am
    #

    last wednesday I watched the Ramayana Ballet at Prambanan temple, performed right in front of the temple complex. incredible!! light-footed movement of the Ramayana dancers mix with stunning background, makes me feel completely back to the time of the Ramayana.

    awesome!

  6. Andy Jarosz 04/09/2009 7:36 pm
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    Looks stunning Keith. Borobudur and Prambanan are definitely on the to-do list.

  7. velvet 04/09/2009 7:53 pm
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    Thanks Andy. Yes, I can definitely recommend a visit to this part of Java. Fascinating Jogja, stunning temples and the countryside is absolutely breathtaking.

    Cheers,
    Keith

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