We’re still covering our trip in Yogyakarta and we’re on the third post of Yogyakarta. Today, we’ll learn more about the Taman Sari Water Castle.
Taman Sari is the (former) royal garden of Kraton Yogyakarta, which is the Sultanate of Yogyakarta. It is a complex that consists of a bathing complex, an irrigation system, a meditation/praying area, an area of relaxation, as well as a means of defense (especially during the war period).
The architectural features of this complex differ greatly from those of Europe. The royal palace was built on a straight line between Mount Merapi and the Indian Ocean, so the buildings with additional functions (such as Taman Sari) are built surrounding the palace itself.
The first thing you’ll visit when going to Taman Sari is the bathing complex. It was built for the queen, princesses, and concubines to bathe. It consists of two pools to bathe. A low building on the right side was used as a sauna, massage, or to converse and change clothes. On the left side was a building with a tower, from where the Sultan of Yogyakarta would secretly peek and choose which concubine would bathe with him. Behind the latter, concealed from the main pools, was a private pool for the Sultan and his chosen concubine.
After the bathing complex, you will be directed to a small plaza where you can take a photo in front of an intricate facade, watch ladies make handdrawn batik (called batik tulis), and buy souvenirs. From this plaza, you’ll be directed to another part of the Taman Sari complex, which we’ll discuss in the next post 🙂
Nomad Bananas recommends: take one day to visit the Kraton. Spend the first half to explore the royal palace, and then spend the second half to explore the Taman Sari water castle.
You may know this place through one very well-known Indonesian movie sequel Ada Apa Dengan Cinta? 2. At least, that’s the case for us hahahah! While this place was probably already known by many of the locals, the movie admittedly played a role in promoting this place. Bukit Rhema, or Rhema Hill’s beauty was successfully captured in that movie. And indeed, during our visit, though it was cloudy at the time, the place definitely gives a meaningful vibe to it.
Gereja Ayam or the Chiken Church(?) gives more of the intriguing vibe as you enter the building and read all the history from how it was built. How So? Originally, this place was built for everyone who believes in the existence of God, as a place for them to do their prayers. And the plan was to build them into a Dove (the bird) shape – as a symbol of peace. But as time goes by and monetary issues hits, the development was paused though it was already made halfway, with the head and tail of a bird/chicken formed. Because of that, most people started calling this building Gereja Ayam (The Chicken Church).
The building itself is actually really huge. I can honestly say you can do a 500 invitees-wedding in that hall itself. You can climb up the stairs to the top of this building – just like in the movie – to get a beautiful 360 view around Magelang for about Rp 15,000 (USD 1.50) and of course, the great Borobudur Temple can be easily seen from up top. While you’re only allowed to stand there for a couple of minutes due to the weight limit, and queues from tourists, I personally think that it is enough to get it all in. I’d say the ticket price is worth it because you can definitely see the effort for their future development. Sunrise would be the best timing for the best view.
Before you get there:
Definitely get comfy. Pair of sneakers is recommended because to reach the church hill you need to actually climb a steep slope. While there was a staircase made instead of just the slope, I am not kidding – it is hella tiring. I think you can opt for a jeep ride up but for a sum of money <- this I am not too sure.