A Trip to Yogyakarta

Travel

Shweta Ganesh Kumar takes a trip to Yogyakarta, believed to be a land of many faiths

 

It's holiday time and a lot of us are gearing up for trips and visits. This week we headed to a land that has almost as many beliefs, faiths and festivals as India has. Yogyakarta is also known as Indonesia's soul and is also home to the active volcano, Mount Merapi!

The first thing to do while in Yogyakarta is to take a look at the famed Walang Kulit puppets. The puppet makers make and display a number of mythological puppets including those of Krishna, Hanuman and Ganesh. This art of puppet making is a craft that is usually passed on from one generation to another within certain families. The specialty of these puppets is that the white paint used on the puppets comes from the crushed horns of the Caribou and the black from the volcanic ashes of Mount Merapi.

Another must-visit here is the Kraton or the Sultan's Palace, after which you should head straight to the 9th Century Prambanan Temple complex. The temple complex was badly damaged by the May 2006 earthquake that affected Yogyakarta severely. One of the temples that survived the calamity is Candi Sewu, the 8th Century Buddhist temple that is within the complex grounds. Covered entirely with sculptures, the Prambanan complex is awe-inspiring and it's also the favoured picnic spot of many school children in the area.

The final stop is Borobudur, the world's largest Buddhist monument, adorned with 504 statues of the Buddha and a calming conclusion to a colourful trip.

 

FACT FILE:

Yogyakarta is located in Central Indonesia. Jakarta is the capital of Indonesia.

Languages: Bahasa and Javanese

Currency: Rupiah

Prambanan is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is currently the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia. The temple is characterised by its tall and pointed architecture, typical of Hindu temple architecture, and by the towering 47mt-high central building inside the large complex of individual temples.

The temple was first built at the site around 850 by either Rakai Pikatan or Balitung Maha Sambu, the Sanjaya king of the Mataram Kingdom. The temple compound was expanded by successive Mataram kings such as Daksa and Tulodong. But history says that the temple soon began to decline in the 930s, probably because of the eruption of a volcano at Merapi, located north of Prambanan, or a power struggle. The temples themselves collapsed during a major earthquake in the 16th Century. The temples ceased to be an important place of worship and their ruins remained scattered around the area. In 1811, a British surveyor named Collin Mackenzie came upon the temples by chance. The reconstruction of the compound began in 1918 and the proper restoration began only in 1930. The main building was completed around 1953. Efforts at estoration continue to this day. Since much of the original stonework has been stolen and reused at remote construction sites and since a temple can be rebuilt only if at least 75% of the original masonry is available, only the foundations of most of the smaller shrines are now visible with no plans for their reconstruction.

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