This is a becak, or pedicab, in Yogyakarta. It was taken while out and about in the Indonesian city last January.
Kuda Lumping is a Javanese traditional dance employing a horse made of woven bamboo. The dancers are sometimes in a trance, during which time they do remarkable or unusual things like eating glass or being whipped. While we didn’t see either of these while watching these dancers a Prambanan, it was an interesting facet of Javanese culture to learn about.
This is the last of what I took in Bali. These are from the limited time I had there, mostly around Nusa Dua. If you venture away from the beach resorts, there is much to see in terms of daily life and culture. I realize much more can be seen elsewhere on the island – I’ll just have to return someday!
Above: a woman prepares offerings for local Hindu statues.
Above: detail of completed offerings.
The kraton, or palace, of Yogyakarta is an interesting site as it hearkens to both pre-colonial and Dutch colonial Indonesia. The center of the Yogyakarta Sultanate, it has been a center of regional power since 1755 with the current building having existed since 1790. Today, the Special Region of Yogyakarta, a sort of autonmous territory which includes the city, is ruled by the Sultan, Hamengkubuwono X.
During our tour, which cost 15,000 rupiah (about 1 USD) with an English-speaking tour guide, we were guided through the palace grounds and given chances to take photos.
Above: the official seal of the monarchy.
Whenever I travel, I try to get an idea of the more mundane aspects of life in the place I’m visiting. Getting away from “touristy” areas (though this is hard sometimes), eating local food, and just observing and interacting with people is sometimes more fun for me as a photographer.
These are from Yogyakarta in central Java.
Above: a Catholic school lets out in a district near the Kraton, or Sultan’s palace.
Above: What seems to be a bulk snack food store in Kotagede, an older section of Yogyakarta.
Above: The “Jogja” (Yogyakarta) skyline in a residential area. Locals told me you can see Mt. Merapi on a clearer day.
Above: Residential neighborhood, Yogyakarta.
Above left: Neighborhood mosque, Yogyakarta. Right: Neighborhood, Yogyakarta.
Above: A busy market near Kotagede, Yogyakarta.
Above: A vendor in Yogyakarta.
Above: A pedicab, or becak in Yogyakarta.
Above left: Maliboro, the main shopping district in Yogyakarta fills at night. Right: Tugu Monument, which sits at a main intersection in Yogyakarta.
Above left: A girl leaves a nearby Islamic school in Kotagede. Right: A sign for what I think is an Islamic school in Kotagede.
Above: Kotagede near the river. Notice the mosque and speakers for prayer on the left. This also shows off the Javanese architecture which can also be seen in structures of other religions.
Not far from Borobudur is Prambanan, a similarly dated temple complex. Originally, it consisted of 240 temple structures, of which only a few remain. The largest and most important of these is devoted to the Hindu god Shiva, and roughly translates as the “Realm of Shiva.”
Architecturally, I was struck by how similar it is to Angkor Wat, which makes sense as both are Hindu temples. Like Borobudur, it also includes many bas reliefs of significant lore. Most important is probably the Ramayana, a great Hindu epic telling of a king’s daughter who is captured and rescued.
Borobudur, located in central Java, Indonesia, is the largest Buddhist temple in the world and one of the oldest and most important Buddhist structures. Lost to the jungles and the earth until the mid-19th century, it was first completed around 825 CE, when Java and much of modern-day Indonesia was predominantly Buddhist and Hindu. By the 14th century, the Hindu and Buddhist dynasties declined, giving rise to Islam in the archipelago.
Today, Borobudur and its nearby Hindu companion, Prambanan, are sources of cultural pride for the predominantly Muslim country of Indonesia. Much like Angkor Wat of Cambodia, Borobudur and Prambanan connect to a mighty and mysterious past when traders from India, the Arabic world, and East Asia converged in the region to form great dynasties.
The monument is meant to portray a sort of “diagram” of Enlightenment. From above, Borobudur represents a Buddhist mandala or map of the universe, and this is noticed when climbing the monument. As the pilgrim ascends the monument, one sees bas reliefs of different stages of Gautama Buddha’s life as well as the law of karma. In addition, statues of the Buddha represent certain meanings with mudras, or the positions of Gautama’s hands. These seating positions take place inside and out of stupas, or places for meditation which resemble cages. As a result, the top of this monument leads to the Buddhas being commonly referred to as the “caged Buddhas” of Indonesia.
Above: Tour groups, mostly from Indonesia, descend on Indonesia’s most-visited tourist attraction. Notice the school group at bottom right. Western tourists can expect to be asked to be included in quite a few of the locals’ photos!
Above: Buddhas sit in their stupas along the exterior of the temple. Notice the missing heads of some Buddhas. As with Angkor Wat in Cambodia, many heads are missing due to treasure hunters.
Above: One of the more complete statues which has survived the elements and treasure hunters.
Above: These two shots show the extensive bas reliefs along the sides of the temple. Stories of teaching, enlightenment, and the results of karma are told. Many of these reliefs are being slowly torn apart by the elements, including the harsh monsoon rains.
Above: A Buddha sits in a half-open stupa near the top of the temple. On a clear day, Mt. Merapi, an active volcano, is present. We seemed to have had too much haze to see it clearly.
Above: Caged stupas near the top.
In addition to Borobudur, there are two other temples in the area. The larger and more impressive of the two is Mendut, which also consists of a Buddhist monastery. Actually older than Borobudur, it is a starting point in a yearly religious pilgrimage for local Buddhists. It is geographically located in a straight line connecting Borobudur on one end, Pawon in the middle, and Mendut on the other side.
Above: Mendut temple.
Above: Main statue in Mendut Temple.
Above: The adjacent Mendut Buddhist Monastery. Notice the Javanese architecture in the main building to the left.