Taman Sari or Water Castle (open 8AM-2PM), is located west of the kraton. Built by a Portuguese architect, it was a recreation garden or a retreat house for the sultan and his family.
The Java War caused damaged to the complex. And in 1865, an earthquake destroyed it further more. Today you'll see much of the Water Castle in ruins. Only the bathing pools were restored. Entrance is along Jalan Taman.
Pinay Travel Junkie's Tip: No need to hire a guide for a walking tour around Central Yogyakarta. For easier navigation, drop by the city's tourist information office (open Mon-Thu 8AM-7PM, Fri 8-11:30AM & 1-3PM, Sat 8AM-6PM) and ask for a map. It's for free!
I wanted to try the becak (Indonesia's version of the pedicab where the passengers sit in front of the driver, scary!) going to Taman Sari, but realized after consulting our map, it would just be a short walk from kraton.
We didn't really enter the Water Castle's bathing pool grounds (we were too cheap to pay for 7,000 Rp admission), we just wandered off to the ruins surrounding it. Worth killing half a day, no admission charged.
Half an hour into our DIY exploration, we entered a beautiful and quite eerie underground structure. There was nothing and no one else inside. Well, except another couple with a photographer seemingly having a prenuptial photo shoot.
Since we didn't hire a guide, we had no idea where we were. I just read off a blog a month after our trip that apparently it used to be the sultan's Underground Mosque. We stayed there for a while. It was a perfect hideaway from the late May heat enveloping Yogyakarta.
We did not realize we stayed there too long. And since it was already getting late, we failed to roam elsewhere.
[This blog is part of the South East Asia in Six Weeks series which took place May-June 2009. Price of goods, transportation and so forth may already be different.]
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