EXPLORING ANCIENT HISTORY OF KOTAGEDE
Jogjakarta has the easiest public transportation to navigate.
I visited for a month and had the best time. At first, I thought I had to rent a motorcycle. But I ended up using Transjogja (public bus) most of the time to go everywhere. The rest I walked from one place to another.
In the last week of my stay, my sister joined and spent a week with me. Today our plan was visiting Kotagede.
This tourist destination is quite easy to reach as it is very close to the city center. Visitors can use various vehicles such as transjogja, taxis, becak (=pedicab) or using private vehicles.
We took Transjogja from the Kaliurang road near Gajah Mada University. Then took another bus on the route to Kota Gede. The old city is about 6 kilometers from downtown Jogja or around 15 minutes.
History of Kotagede
In the 8th century, Yogyakarta became the center of government of the Kingdom of Mataram. During its heyday, almost all of Java was in the hands of the Hindu Mataram.
The kingdom prospered with extraordinary civilization. One proof is Prambanan Temple and Borobudur Temple. But for unknown reasons until now, around the 10th century, the Kingdom moved to East Java. Residents flocked to Mataram until finally no one left behind. The area neglected and became a forest.
About six centuries later, the ruling Sultan Hadiwijaya on Java presented Alas Mentaok (alas = forest) to Ki Gede Pemanahan after conquering the enemy of the kingdom. This forest was the former Hindu kingdom of Mataram. Ki Gede Pemanahan built a small village and then it grew larger.
Then Ki Gede Pemanahan replaced by Senapati Gede Pemanahan.
Senapati Gede Pemanahan died and replaced with his son named Ingalaga Senapati. Under the leadership of Senapati, the village developed into a prosperous city.
This city later called Kotagede (= big city). Senapati built a fort containing a palace and fortress outside the city area of approximately 200 ha.
The last time I visited Kotagede when I was at the University. There was no public transportation like Transjogja. Therefore when my sister and I arrived at the bus stop, we were a little confused. Didn’t know where we had to go.
I wanted to walk to tourist attractions around Kotagede. Since it was scorching hot, we decided to take the bektor (pedicab with a motorbike) for a few kilometers from the bus stop.
We wanted to eat first before exploring Kotagede. We asked pedicab driver to drop us off in the center of Kotagede.
Along the way to the eatery, we saw various ancient buildings with unique architectural styles that are still preserved until today. The long history of Kotagede makes this area related to past relics. Buildings with various styles ranging from Dutch architecture, Traditional Javanese, to Mataram Hinduism.
Hunting for Silver Crafts
The pedicab driver dropped us off at Soto Ayam food vendor (Soto Ayam is an Indonesian traditional soup consisting of meat, meat, and vegetable). It was such a relief to take shelter in the shade when the sun scorching hot.
Then we hailed another becak to take us to important places in Kotagede.
My sister wanted to buy a necklace. Most art shops in the main street are quite expensive so the pedicab driver offered to take us to other silver craft shop.
Kotagede well-known as The Silver City. Kotagede silver handicrafts have grown since the founding of Kotagede as the capital of Mataram.
The Kotagede road lined with souvenir shops that sell silver products. Crafts with various forms of jewelry, household designs such as teapots, glasses, and room decorations. Kotagede’s silverware characterized by its floral motifs based on the Hindu tradition and use only manual labor.
The pedicab driver guided us through several alleys. We surprised because the workshop still uses old ways to produce their craft. My sister bought a necklace that was much cheaper compared to the art shops we visited before.
Then the becak driver dropped us off in front of the sign of the ‘Makam Raja-Raja Mataram’. First, we visited the Raja Mataram Cemetery, then the Kotagede Great Mosque and the last was the Javanese Traditional Settlement.
Tomb of the Kings of Mataram (=Makam Raja-Raja Mataram)
This place is the final resting place for Panembahan Senopati, Ki Gede Pemanahan, and Sultan Hadiwijaya. It is about 100 meters from the Kotagede Market.
This tomb surrounded by a large wall that is very sturdy and beautiful. The carvings remind me of Balinese carvings.
To enter the cemetery, visitors pass through three gates with typical Hindu architecture.The gate has a sturdy wooden door with beautiful carvings.
We did not enter the cemetery because visitors were required to wear traditional Javanese clothing. The visitor can rent clothes at the visitor center. In addition, visitors are prohibited from taking pictures and wearing jewelry made of gold.
We stood near the visitor center and watched people around. Nothing much happened. I saw many visitors sitting around joglo or near the visitor center. Maybe they were waiting for their turn. The atmosphere at the tomb was very calm and sacred. I cringed when I pressed my camera button. The sound was too loud for this quiet and somber place.
Kotagede Great Mosque (=Masjid Agung)
We didn’t spend too much time at the tomb of the kings. We stepped out and walked slowly to another place. When enjoyed the beauty of this site, we realized that there were not many visitors. Therefore the atmosphere around the tomb was calm.
Especially when we visit the Great Mosque of Kotagede.
In many mosques that I visited, usually many people prayed, sat, and even lay down. But at that moment the atmosphere was quiet and the inside was dark.
Kotagede Great Mosque is inside the Tomb of the Kings of Mataram. Legacy of the Islamic Mataram Kingdom which is full of historical values.
We just looked outside the building and took a few photos before leaving.
Javanese Traditional Settlements
We left the Tombs of the Kings and the area of the Great Mosque. The last stop was a traditional Javanese settlement not far from the royal tomb.
When I searched the location of tourist attractions in Kotagede, I found an article about old buildings. One of the houses has a striking green wall color. But after asking the pedicab drivers, pedestrians and even the locals they did not know where it was. Strange.
Then the second choice is traditional Javanese settlements. The distance is less than 100 meters from the Tombs of the Kings.
We passed a narrow and short gate.
Then we saw neat and well-maintained old houses. These residential areas face each other forming an alley. No one passed by. Even though this old house still functions as a place to live, we did not find its inhabitants. We whispered and took quiet steps when we passed every house.
I just found out later that this residential area called “Between Two Gates” or “Antara Dua Gerbang”. Because the alley or small road flank by gates at both ends. This settlement has existed since 1840. Previously as a square. Over time, the square in the era of the Islamic Mataram kingdom grew into a settlement.
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