Yogyakarta is the city of the fortunate. The historic city of Western Java province in Indonesia. The locals prefer to go by the short name – Jogya. The city is famous for two historic cites – The Borobudur and Prambanan temple complex. The former is Buddhist and the later is the ancient Hindu temple complex – both world heritage sites. Indonesia is heavily shaped by Indian influence. Apart from Hinduism and Buddhism – Islam too has been imparted by Indian traders who traded with Indonesia – the country’s name says it all. There is a heavy influence of Sanskrit names in Bhasha Indonesia the language of the country.
Pic: Borobudur complex
Both the complexes lie a short distance from the bustling streets of Jogya. The Prambanan complex includes a small sanctuary full of deers and the tropical feel cannot be missed we even saw the odd snake in the complex. The Prambanan complex was under renovation when we visited the place.
Pic: Freeze from the Prambanan temple
Jogya’s tryst with culture shows in the shops that line the main avenue that leads to the local sultan’s palace. The Batik work of Jogya is very impressive to say the least. But nothing beats the the Jogyans love affair with the Ramayana. The puppet show at the Sultans palace is extraordinary with live music. The puppets are made of leather and in itself a work of art. There is also a live drama act of the Ramayana. A popular Indonesian super market chain also goes with same name as the great epic of India.
Pic: An extraordinary cast of singers / musicians and puppeteers are behind the scenes
An important place to visit is the Sultan’s palace. The Sultan of Jogya is the custodian of the high culture of the province and his vast palace complex is a an indication of the power that he wields. There is an interesting restaurant in the Sultan’s palace which serves authentic Indonesian cuisine.
Pic: The Sultan’s restaurant
One of the best and reasonable places to stay is the Mercure hotel right in the heart of Jogya. The sultan’s palace is a 20 minute walk.Do watch out for the Jogya scam a tourist trap where touts acting as artists take you to art studios where mass produced paintings are on sale.Jogya is a quick flight away from Bali and Jakarta and can be done as a short 2 day side trip.Garuda Indonesia is the national carrier and offers good connections and would prefer this to the several low cost airlines of doubtful veracity.