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The first kingdom in central Java probably grew up arround the need for a collective solution to problem of irrigation works. the kongdoma of the firrst milleniun AD left many fine archeological remains: the hindu temples of the Dieng Plateau, Gedong Sogo near Ambarawa Sukuh and Cetho temple to the east of Surakarta and the famous Prambanan group of temples just out side Yogyakarta; buddist monuments such as Candi Sewu near Yogyakarta and the world famous such as Candi sewu near Yogyakarta and the world famous Borobudur. Also dating from this period are the palace ruins at Ratu Boko, just South of Prambanan. Carving on some of these temples give a vivid impresion of the arts and daily life of the period, while some easrly literary works in the Old Javanese language, using a script based on Indian models, allow us a direct glimpse into culture of the time.

Marapi in actionThe early kingdoms which created these monuments fell into decline after a massive erouption of Mount Merapi in 1006 A.D and the subsequent rise of rivals kingdom in East Java but hindu culture of that early period has left a lasting mark on the palace arts of today, particularly in the use of the Indian Ramayana and Mahabarata epiccs as the basis for Javanese Classical theatre form. If you ant to lok for an explanation of the special place that Yogyakarta (know to local as Jogja) has in hearts and mind of Indonesians, these word from the much loved c wayang kulit ( shadow play) are a good palce to start. Streching from the peak of Mount Merapi in tyhe North to coast of southern Oceans, and bounded by the Progo and Opak riverss the Sultanate of Yogyakarta matches the classic descriptions of the shape of a kingdom from Javanese literature.

Yogyakarta is one of the most important culture centres of javanese. At the heart of the city is the Kraton ods Sultan's palace, still inhabited and still nurturing the arts as it has done for the past 250 years. Try sampling gamelan music and dance in kartaion itself on Sunday morning.Most interresting tourist sites in Yogyakarta are aound the kraton area it's self. Not only is the Sultan's palace but the royal Mosque, Sono budoya museum, and of course the mysterious Taman Sari-sometime known as the water Castle now largerly in ruins but still impressive. At its Noth entrance is the Pasar Ngasem bird market, which attests to Javanese love of caged birds, perticularly singing dove. Yogyakarta is an excellent base for some interessting side strips around central java. to the south of yogyakarta , on the coast of southern ocean, lies parang tritis. though prangtritis has a long strech of black sand beach and some lovely sand dunes, the surf is too fierce for swimming and the village is more interesting as a centre of javanese mycticism than as a coventional beach resort. it is there that the sultan of yogyakarta comes for ceremonies connected with the legendary goddess of the soutern oceans kanjeng ratu kidul.

An hours drive from yogyakarta takes you to Borobudur , the most cebrated ancient monument in Indonesia. Originaly dating from the 9th century AD. Borobudur was planned as a place of Visit Borobudurpilgrimage rather than aas a center for major ceremonies. The pilgrim to Borobudur walked around four galleries of relief curvings telling stories from the lives of the Boddhisatvas (incarnations of the buddha), before circling three concentric rings of stupa containing statues of the buddha before reaching the final, empty stu[pa at the top of the monument. There is now an achaeological museum at the site telling the story of Borobudur's building, rediscovery and restoration. It is best to go early in the morning on a weekday to get a chance of seeing the monument free of huge milling crowds. The 9th century pilgrim was expected to visit two preparations temples Mendut and Pawon .

Just out of Yogyakarta to the north East , along the roads to Surakarta, lies the prambanan temple complex. Very different in caracter from Borobudur, the main Prambanan Complex dates from 9 th century AD and was probably built as an execise in triumphalism following the return of a Hindu dynasty of power. Unlike Borobudur , which from a distance has a low unssuming profile, the spires of Prambanan were built to impress from a long way away. The main Complex, containing, six large temples has now been fully restored, but more than 200 smaller temples which once surronded the central area still lie in ruin. The main area contains three large temples dedicated to the Hindu deities Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma, with three smaller temples facing them dedicated to deities odes of transport: the bull Nandi for Shiva the eagle for Vishnu and the swam for Brahma. Many of the original staues still survive, and are among the finest Hindu- Javanese work art. Arround the gallery of the central temple are frieze carving telling the story of Ramayana.


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