Karaton Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat (the official local name of the sultan’s palace) is located at the southern end of Jl Malioboro. It is accessible on foot, by becak, or local cabs.
The entrance fee is about Rp15.000 ($2.00) with optional fee of Rp1.000 if you would like to bring your digital or video camera. Guides are also optional and can be hired at the entrance.
The word keraton is a somewhat archaic term for the place where the queen lives. There is also another similar word called kedaton which carries the same meaning. In any case, Yogyakarta’s keraton (modern spelling has it as “kraton“) is dedicated for regency’s sultan and definitely not for a queen.
The architect of this two-century-old palace complex is the late Sultan Hamengku Buwono I, the founder of the Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat kingdom. Measuring about 14,000 m² in size, the complex was completed back in 1756 with extensive showcase of Javanese palace architecture.
Lacking pre-travel research before embarking on my trip to the keraton, the first impression of the architecture was none too impressive for me. I guess I had a different idea of what a Javanese palace would look like, coming from an area where the palaces have strong Sumatran ancient roots. My conclusion was that Javanese keraton designs are starkly in contrast with those of Sumatran and Malayan origins.
The compound is rather huge that writing about every highlight along the way will take ages. I will try to mention the more important ones that one could see in the complex.
Right after the ticket booth, you will walk through Sri Manganti gate into a small square. To the left is Bangsal Trajumas in which regal-status gamelan instrument are kept, while to the right is Bangsal Sri Manganti where traditional Keraton dances are held almost daily. Right in front of you is the Danapratapa Gate (Pintu Gerbang) that brings you into a bigger square. While the Sultans were devout Muslims, traces of Hindu influence still remain as witnessed at this gate. Here, you can see two big mystical idols flanking both sides.
At the main square, turn left into Regol Gapura, another section of the palace. One interesting fact is that the trees grown within the compound have their own meaning, just like all the buildings of all shapes. They carry subtle messages for the deserving eyes. For example, asem / asam trees (“asem” means “sour”) grown mostly in the southern section, signify youthfulness, while pakel tree (a type of mango) signifies the puberty stage. There are also a number of waringin (banyan) trees grown to symbolise the human body.
Then I arrived at a section where photos and tools for various cultural and religious rituals are on display, the most important one is probably the garebeg procession which is held 3 times annually. Then I got the chance to visit the Museum Batik which showcases the history of this exquisite work of arts. No cameras are allowed in this museum.
There are a few other sites that I visited (trying to make it short here): Bangsal Sri Manganti where traditional dance is held almost daily, two dedicated bangsal (hall) where different gamelan instrument are kept, and Ruang Pameran Lukisan (art gallery) with some historic paintings.
Unique open-palace concept. Even more interesting if one could decipher all the messages behind the architecture as intended by the design. Some improvement could be in term of signage and ample descriptions to assist visitors to understand more about the palace.
Resource : truslyjogja.org