Relics of a great kingdom
Published/Last edited or updated: 31st January, 2017
Kota Gede was once the seat of the powerful Islamic Mataram Sultanate. Today it’s more well known as a stop on shopping tours visiting its thriving silver industry. We have nothing against getting a bit of bling on and supporting local crafts, but think the often ignored (by tourists) historical sights and architecture in this small, interesting area are the real drawcard and worth an explore.
At the northwest corner of bustling Kota Gede market, a local landmark Babon Anim, a former Dutch electrical substation from the 1900s, marks the turn towards the historic Ndondongan area 300 metres away. We are far from architectural experts but to our untrained eye, the elements here seem much more in the style of Hindu architecture than Islamic.
The brick gates have a stepped roof element similar to Balinese architecture and a barrier wall as you enter, designed to deflect potential malign spirits, another similarity. You are free to wander around this interesting area (by donation) and into the Sendhang Seliran, bathing pools, where it’s believed the water source comes from the sacred kings’ grave. The tombs are considered hallowed ground, and are a local pilgrimage and meditation site, a precursor to the other sacred royal cemetery in Yogyakarta, Imogiri. They are only open to visitors Sunday, Monday and Wednesday 10:00-13:00 and Friday 13:00-16:00 (closed during Ramadan). You must wear traditional Javanese costume which can be hired locally (50,000 rupiah) Women must wear a jarik (sarong), kemben (torso wrap) and headscarfs or hats are not permitted. Men are required to wear a jarik (sarong), peranakan (Javanese jacket) and blangkon (Javanese head cover). Photos are prohibited within the tomb. The area certainly has a mystical eeriness, and seems that is played upon by some unscrupulous individuals, as there is a warning sign “Hati Hati penipuan berkedok paranormal” — beware of fraudulent ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 500 words.)
Sally spent twelve years leading tourists around Indonesia and Malaysia where she collected a lot of stuff. She once carried a 40kg rug overland across Java. Her house has been described as a cross between a museum and a library. Fuelled by coffee, she can often be found riding her bike or petting stray cats. Sally believes travel is the key to world peace.
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