Address : Guwosari, Pajangan, Indonesia
Selarong Cave is located at Kembang Putihan Village, Pajangan District, Bantul Regency, Special Region of Yogyakarta. It is a historical cave with scenic natural view, cool air and historical traces at the karst hills. The historical value of Selarong Cave is that this cave once used by Diponegoro as a base during his guerilla against the Dutch. The war is known as the Java War which lasted for five years since 1825 – 1830.
Diponegoro (1785 – 1855) is the oldest son of Sultan Hamengku Buwono III (1769 – 1814). He did not have the ambition to be a king, instead, he decided to live in a quiet place called Tegal Rejo, located several kilometers southwest of Yogyakarta Palace (Peter Carey, 1991:2). On July 20, 1825 the Dutch besieged Tegal Rejo. Diponegoro and his followers moved to Selarong Cave in southern of Yogyakarta (Supriyo Priyanto, 2009). It was in this cave that Diponegoro planned his guerilla strategy.
The Dutch was at its wits’ end against Diponegoro guerilla tactic. From Selarong Cave, Diponegoro troops launched a sporadic attack. The troops emerged unexpectedly and attacked the Dutch army then they suddenly disappeared and retreated to Selarong Cave. The war, although lasted only for five years, caused many casualties and huge lost. The Dutch lost 80 thousands of their soldiers and 20 million gulden of financial lost. It took them a long period to find out where Diponegoro troops based. Today, this hiding place serves as a tourism object called Selarong Cave.
As you enter the gate to Selarong complex, you will be welcomed by Diponegoro statue. He is in his white robe and turban, riding on his horse looking as if leading his troops with his hand pointing forward, toward the enemy stockade. Under the statue there is a relief which portrays the negotiation process between Diponegoro and the Dutch government. According to the history record, the negotiation held in Magelang, Central Java on March 28, 1830 was the Dutch trick to capture Diponegoro (www.tokohindonesia.com).
Before moving forward, it is suggested that you look at the map placed near Diponegoro statue. There are several choices of tourism objects in the map. After that, you can continue your tour into the cave. Along the passage there are sellers, mostly of old age, offering fruits which are Selarong special natural products such as sapodilla, wongai plum, guava, longan, mangosteen, banana, rambutan, and more.
The passage end branches in two. The right branch leads to a series of stairways to the cave, while the right branch leads to a spring called Sendang Manik Maya. To reach to this spring, you must pass a small bridge above a dry watercourse. Moreover, you must walk the footpath as far as 100 meters. Sendang Manik Maya is believed to be an eternal spring that Diponegoro and his troops used to bath and wash themselves before prayer.
Not far from Sendang Manik Maya there is another spring called Sendang Umbul Mulya. This spring water is used for cooking and washing. In addition to the two springs, there are several historical remains such as the Gedogan or the feeding barn for Diponegoro’s horse, Banjaran or the place for millitary ceremony of Diponegoro troops, and Mancasan which was the execution place for the traitors.
After the historical remains, you can move on to the cave complex by tracing the same passage. It is said that when the rain falls, people can see waterfall flowing from the hilltop across the stairways to the cave. To get to the cave complex you must ascend a series of steps. But you do not need to worry because a restoration has been done to improve the infrastructure in Selarong Cave. Permanent stairways have been built to make it easier for visitors to climb and walk through the steep and difficult passage to the cave mouth. In every 10 steps there is a space large enough to take a rest while enjoying the beautiful panorama. There are also frangipani and some other trees growing on both sides of the stairways which shade the passage.
Arriving at your destination, you will see a yard. Never expect seeing a cave with a long, dark and musty trail. Selarong Cave looks more like a chamber for resting. There are two caves at the back of the yard. The one on the left side is known as Kakung Cave. The word kakung in Javanese language means male chief or respected man. It can be inferred then that this cave used to be the chamber or resting place of Diponegoro. The one on the right side, meanwhile, is called Putri Cave which signifies that this cave was inhabited by Raden Ayu Ratnaningsih, Diponegoro’s wife. The word putri in Javanese language means lady or respected woman.
Both Kakung and Putri Caves are located on the lower part of a big lime mountain, which makes it as if two holes were made deliberatily on the mountain for settlement. It was in this cave that Diponegoro planned his strategy with his followers to attack the Dutch. While quartered in Selarong Cave, Diponegoro and his troops were attacked three times by the Dutch on July 25, October 3 and 4, 1825.
Still at the surrounding of Kakung and Putri Caves, you can enjoy other historical monuments. About 300 kilometers south of the cave, there is the Ompak Masjid or the mosque supporting pillars. The pillars are at the place once used by Diponegoro to lead the communal prayer. However, the remains of the mosque structure can no longer be found. This place was also used by Diponegoro to meditate as a way to get closer to God. Diponegoro was not only known as a noble and leader, but also an ulema who taught religious teachings to his loyal followers and people.
Next, you can continue your adventure to the top of the karst hill. There are a series of steps on the left of Putri Cave. They are all in good condition. While ascending the steps, enjoy the scenery around. At the hill top there is an edifice functions as a view tower. From here, you can enjoy the great view and the mountain breeze while taking a rest.
Selarong Cave is located at Kembang Putihan Village, Guwosari Subdistrict, Pajangan District, Bantul Regency, Special Region of Yogyakarta.
Selarong Cave is accessible by almost any means of transportation. However, it is preferable that you take your own vehicle because the number of public transportations that take you directly to Selarong Cave is still limited. This is because, despite the asphalt road, Selarong Cave is located in a quite a remote mountainous area. If you depart from out of Yogyakarta, you can rent a motorcycle or car in Yogyakarta. Selarong Cave is about 13 kilometers south of Yogyakarta City or 5 kilometers north of Bantul City.
If you depart from Yogyakarta downtown (for example from Grand Post Office or Gondomanan crossroad) there are some routes you can take to get to Selarong Cave. The stake is the South Ring Road which is not far from Yogyakarta downtown. If you depart from Giwangan bus station, your trip will be much easier because this station is located at the side of South Ring Road.
From South Ring Road, there are some routes toward Selarong Cave. The first route is from South Ring Road to Dongkelan intersection (Bantul Street), southward to about 1 – 2 kilometers until you reach Kasongan handicraft center, then westward for about 3 – 4 kilometers until you get to Guwosari/ Pajangan intersection. The second route is from the South Ring Road to Madukismo intersection and westward as far as the first route. After arriving at Guwosari/ Pajangan intersection, you can go straight to Selarong Cave by taking the south turnoff. It takes you 20 minutes from Guwosari/ Pajangan intersection to Selarong Cave.
The entrance ticket to Selarong Cave is very affordable. You only need Rp 2.000 per person with some additional money for the parking fee (January 2010). Then, you are welcomed to enjoy the various objects at Selarong Cave for free.
F. Accommodations and Facilities
Selarong Cave does not only serve as historical and natural tourism spot, it is also a religious site. Some people perform reenactment of the struggle of Diponegoro while others perform religious ritual such as meditation in Selarong Cave. One of them is Peter Carey, a researcher of Cornell University, USA, who wrote the biography of Diponegoro (Suryadi, 2008).
There is another tourism attraction in Selarong complex, namely Grebeg Gua Selarong. It is a cultural agenda held anually, usually on July, by the local people and the government of Bantul Regency. It is held to commemorate Diponegoro emigration to Selarong Cave at the same time to commemorate the anniversary of Bantul Regency. This Grebeg is held as people’s gratitude to God as well as putting Diponegoro as a figure to look up to. In this ritual, people make a gunungan (yellow rice in cone-shape) decorated with various crops and nasi gurih (rice cooked with coconut milk). This Grebeg is usually celebrated with Islamic entertaining performance, traditional art performance and procession by the people of Pajangan District, Bantul Regency.
More, there are woodcraft center in an area near Selarong Cave. Some of the products are statue and mask. You can see and also try for yourselves the experience of the making process of the woodcraft. In addition, the government of Bantul Regency is currently developing the agrotourism of Selarong Cave by starting cultivating longan. The government of Bantul Regency also encourages the local people to plant more guava tree which is known as the special fruit from Selarong Cave. In fact, it is rarely found in the area nowadays.
There are adequate supporting facilities in Selarong Cave such as wide parking area for cars, motorcycles and bicycles. There are also public conveniences, house of prayers, kids playground, watch tower to enjoy the view of scenic valley and resting pendopo. Moreover, Selarong complex is also a suitable place for camping ground.
For family back home, you can buy Selarong fruit specialty like sapodilla, wongai plum, guava, longan, mangosteen, banana, rambutan and more. If you decided to stay over, there are inns at Bantul downtown, not far away from Selarong Cave.
Text: Iswara N. Raditya
Translation: Apri Widiastuti
Photo(s): Collection of Jogjatrip.com
(Primary data and various sources)