In formal terms, it’s called, “Kraton Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat.” Less formally, the Keraton. It’s the royal palace, and home, of the ruling sultan in the province of Yogyakarta, Indonesia. He is technically a governor but is able to retain the title of sultan.The Keraton is open to the public in the first portion of the day yet it is still used for meetings, official functions and as a home where the sultan and his family live.About 100 guards are on duty during visiting hours though at any time around one thousand are actively serving the sultan.Designed to reflect Javanese customs, the palace is ornate and at times dripping with gold details.At times, it is calming and spiritual.In one direction, it faces the Indian Ocean which highlights a belief in the sea spirit. The other direction faces Mount Merapi. The layout has many meanings and now different portions and decorative elements pay homage to all of the elements of Indonesian religious culture, a fusion of Buddhist, Islamic and Hindi beliefs.
There is also a wonderful exhibit of royal clothing and batik fabrics that helps the visitor to understand what different patterns mean and why they are such an important part of Javanese culture.In contrast to the formality of the Keraton and yet just a few blocks away, is the Water Palace – as it has now come to be known – the former holiday retreat of the sultan.
The Taman Sari Water Palace was the place where women were brought to entertain the sultan and the site in which he found a new wives. From a window high up, overlooking the pools, the sultan chose women who appealed to him and then they were summoned to his presence for…well, I’m sure I don’t need to fill in any details here…I was a guest of the Indonesia Tourism Board for my time on the island of Java, and for this experience, however – the views, opinions and poor grammar here are all my own.