Are you a worldly traveler preparing to explore Indonesia? If so, let me direct you towards Yogykarta City, also known as Jogja. This incredible city is the main attraction on the Indonesian island of Java and regularly attracts visitors from all over the world. Visit this beautiful and cultural city for yourself and you’ll quickly understand why.
The History of Yogyakarta
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The city of Yogyakarta itself has existed for hundreds of years. It was at one point the focal point of the Mataram Dynasty which existed between the years 1575 and 1640. Within the confines of the city you’ll find several temples dating back more than a thousand years. One such example is the Borobudaur temple built by the Syailendra dynasty back in the ninth century.
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Even today the kraton, also recognized as the sultan’s palace, exists in working order. Surrounding the city you will find a myriad of plush green rice fields, natural beaches, and hospitable Javanese people.
Within the city you’ll find yourself surrounded by an artistic crowd of individuals. Some specialize in handicrafts while others create culinary delights, and still more create music in the streets. No matter where you turn, you’ll find yourself embraced by yet another cultural phenomenon.
Traveling to Yogyakarta
Getting to Yogyakarta isn’t as difficult as it once was. Travelers have the option of taking the train, taking the bus, or flying directly into the city.
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Visitors who wish to take the train can access Yogyakarta from Surabaya, Jakarta, or Bandung. Anyone coming from almost any city on Java Island, from Sumatra Island, or from Bali Island can access Yogykarta by bus. Those wishing to fly may take a direct flight from Kuala Lumpur (these international flights are new) or may fly in from Jakarta, Balikpapan, and several other cities as well.
Cultural Experiences in Yogyakarta
While visiting Yogyakarta you’ll want to make sure you take in at least one or two of the city’s unique cultural performances. They range from music to dance and beyond and are certainly worth stopping to see.
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Take, for example, the Javanese Orchestra. They specialize in gamelan music which is not exactly new to the world but has certainly inspired the creation and expression of several different styles. Java Island is, however, the original home of gamelan, so there’s no place better to experience the sounds if you’ve never heard this incredible style of music before.
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Those who appreciate a good storytelling experience should take in a Sendratara Ramayana performance. All performances take place at the Ramayana Open Air Theater & Trimutri Theater or at the Prambanan Temple complex. These awe-inspiring performances depict Indian epics as told through an eclectic combination of art, drama, dance, and music.
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One of the oldest performance styles in the area, dating back more than five centuries, is the Wayang Kulit Show. Wayang kulit means “leather puppet,” and the backdrop for each performance is carefully set. Gamelan music and female singers will relax you as the dalang (or puppeteer) and storyteller spin their tales. The story and the way it is told will depict some of the finest points of Javanese culture.
Yogyakarta Adventures: Off the Beaten Path
Anyone can visit a foreign country and trek through a dozen museums and tourist attractions, but it takes someone truly dedicated to exploring other cultures to dig his hands into the local lifestyle himself. When you visit Yogyakarta you’ll find a number of incredible opportunities awaiting you.
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One such adventure is a course in Batik making. The art of making a batik includes either learning to piece one together by hand, learning to print a batik, or learning to paint a batik. Each person making a batik will have the opportunity to choose a pattern, many of which have historic significance, and will then be able to color their cloth, add their designs, and wash the final product.
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If you’d like to leave the main city for a while, consider signing up for a Boko Trekking tour. Your tour will take you to the Ratu-Boko Temple and Palace which are both situated on a hill that makes it inconvenient for the average tourist to visit. If you do choose to take this hike you’ll be able to view some incredible scenery and, after an overnight stay, will have the opportunity to view the sunrise over Tugel Hill as you overlook the rice fields.
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Last but not least, your trip won’t be complete without a stop at Kotagede, the silver center. After touring the silver studio you’ll have the opportunity to sit down and make your own ring, pendant, or earrings. Half day, full day, and weekend courses are available depending on your interest and the amount of time you have to spend. Imagine being able to make your own souvenir of your trip to Yogyakarta.
Yogyakarta promises to be one of the most exciting and exhilarating stops on your tour through Indonesia. Don’t miss out on the experience of a lifetime!