Photo: Once part of the Sultan of Yogyakarta's playground.

Taman Sari and Sumur Gumuling (Water Palace and Underground Mosque)

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Taman Sari (literally fragrant garden), or the “Water Castle” as it’s popularly known, was once an extensive playground for the Sultan of Yogyakarta. It encompassed a large artificial lake with islands complete with rare fruit trees, fragrant gardens, swimming pools and meditation areas as well as a network of secret underwater tunnels.

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Today only the bathing pools and Sumur Gumuling, an eerie but fascinating underground mosque, are well preserved. Most of the former complex forms residential areas.

Life in Taman Sari. Photo taken in or around Taman Sari and Sumur Gumuling (Water Palace and Underground Mosque), Yogyakarta, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Life in Taman Sari. Photo: Sally Arnold

Built in the mid-1700s, it was partly destroyed by the British invasion in 1812, and an earthquake finished the job and drained the water in the mid-1800s. Local legend is that the architect was a Portuguese shipwreck survivor washed up on the southern ocean who eventually learnt Javanese and found favour with the Sultan. Although it may look like it has European influence, architectural experts tend to believe that it was a purely Javanese design. However, the area is abundant with such folklore, and there is even a tale that an underground tunnel here leads to the southern ocean to enable the Sultan to meet with his mystical consort Kanjeng Ratu Loro Kidul, the Queen of the ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 600 words.)

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