Address : Surakarta, Jawa Tengah
Solo or Surakarta is an old city that was established by Paku Buwana II. The history of the city cannot but relate to the history of the Sunanate of Kraton Surakarta Hadiningrat that succeeded to Islamic Mataram Kingdom that was established by Panembahan Senopati. The location of the palace of Islamic Mataram did indeed change several times. The first palace was Kraton Kotagede in Yogyakarta. Then Kraton Plered in Bantul Regency replaced it during Amangkurat I period before it subsequently moved to Kraton Kartasura in Sukoharjo Regency for Kraton Plered was ruined on account of the rebellion of Trunojoyo during Amangkurat II period. Kraton Kartasura was used by Amangkurat II up until Paku Buwana II period (1680-1742 AD) (http://id.wikipedia.org).
During Paku Buwana II period, the incident of Geger Pecinan took place. It was a rebellion by local Chinese troops that were supported by some princes and some relatives of the king. According to www.kratonsurakarta.com, the revolt had started since 1740 when the Dutch enforced the law to decrease the number of local Chinese population in Batavia so that a number of local Chinese people were evacuated to central Java where they formed troops of resistance. They turned out to gain supports from numerous regents of the coastal area. Secretly, Paku Buwana II also backed them up by representation of the chief minister of the king, namely Adipati Natakusuma. The aim is to drive the Dutch out of Mataram Kartasura territory.
Since the Chinese failed to take over Semarang City which was the Dutch’ headquarter in the east of Batavia, Paku Buwana II withdrew his support and sided back with the Dutch. In order to shield himself from suspicion, Susuhunan (‘the worshipped’, a term of address for the king) arrested Adipati Natakusuma who was eventually exiled to Sailon (Sri Lanka). In spite of the failure, the force of the Chinese did not decline. They became stronger instead by supports of the regents of Pati and Grobogan and the relatives of the king. They even managed to install Mas Garendi (grandson to Amangkurat III) as the new ruler to the kingdom of Mataram Kartasura and entitled him Sunan Kuning (meaning ‘a Chinese-supported king’).
In 1742, the royal party was cornered, so that the King, his relatives, and some worshipers who remained devoted had to move to Ponorogo, East Java. The insurgents succeeded in raiding Kraton Kartasura and wrecking its buildings. The revolt could not be blocked until Paku Buwana II was helped by the Dutch to attack the Chinese troops (http://id.wikipedia.org). Even though he had gained back his throne, Susuhunan felt that the central palace of Kraton Kartasura was not proper to dwell in anymore, for, according to Javanese belief, any damaged palace was out of fortune. Hence, Susuhunan decreed that Adipati Pringgalaya, Adipati Sindureja, Major Higendorp, and some supernatural experts, such as Tumenggung Hanggawangsa, Mangkuyuda, and Puspanegara should find a new location (www.kratonsurakarta.com).
After some thoughts, it was decided that Solo Village was chosen as the new site to replace Kartasura Palace. The building of the palace started in 1743 and ended in 1745. It was constructed with teak brought from Kethu Forest near Wonogiri. What is interesting is that one of the architects was Prince Mangkubumi, a relative of Susuhunan who later rebelled and eventually established the Sultanate of Yogyakarta with a title Sultan Hamengku Buwana I. That is why it is no wonder that the buildings of Kraton Yogyakarta have a lot in common with those of Surakarta Palace. As soon as the construction finished, the new palace, called Kraton Surakarta Hadiningrat, was officially occupied for the first time by the king on February 17th 1745 (or Rabu Pahing Sura 14th 1670 Javanese Calendar, Wuku Landep, Windu Sancaya) (http://id.wikipedia.org).
Today’s Kraton Surakarta is not in the same form of building with its initial one. It is renovated several times and yet the basic design of its interior remains. A great renovation was carried out during the office of Paku Buwana X who ruled circa 1893-1939. In such greatest reconstruction, the architecture started to adopt European style, using white and blue colors as royal colors.
Any tourist who would love to enjoy this remnant of Mataram Surakarta Kingdom history must obey some regulations, such as prohibition of wearing any hat, black glasses, shorts, sandals, or jacket. Anyone wearing shorts may borrow a cloth to cover his lower part during the tour around the palace complex.
At Solo Royal Palace complex, you will watch before you there is a Javanese typical architecture that is a palace surrounded by a town square, Klewer Market, and Grand Mosque of Surakarta. In the front part of the palace, there are a building called Sasana Sumewa and cannon made of bronze called Kiai Rancawara. The building used to be a place for Pasewakan Agung, a meeting amongst the King and his ministers. Here you still can find Dhampar Kencana (the king’s throne) which is situated upon Siti Hinggil (the heightened ground). Any visitor is forbidden to step up to this area because it is sacred.
From Siti Hinggil, you walk through Kori Renteng and Kori Mangu (kori means door, renteng means inner conflict, and mangu means doubt). Next, you walk through Kori Brojonolo (brojo=weapon, nolo=mind). So, those who walk through such doors are expected to strengthen their hearts, to throw away any doubts, and to sharpen their minds (http://earief.wordpress.com). Subsequently, you will get to Kamandungan Lor, Sri Manganti, and finally visit the royal museum named Kraton Surakarta Hadiningrat Museum.
In the museum, you may observe some artifacts of The Sunanate of Kraton Surakarta and some fragments of the temples found in Central Java. In the first room, there are the objects which were used as the household utensils of abdi dalem (royal servants), such as cooking pots, bowls, and some other utensils made of clay. There is also a room to display antique weapons, such as spears, swords, cannons, and old-fashioned revolvers used by the royal family. Some instruments of the arts which are occasionally performed in Kraton Surakarta, such as gamelan and masks, are also displayed in the museum. Other attractive collections are gold carriage, 5 meters oars, and the crowns of Paku Buwana VI, Paku Buwana VII, and Paku Buwana X. If you want to know the history of the division of Surakarta and Yogyakarta Kingdoms according to Giyanti Treaty 1755, you can examine the ancestry of Islamic Mataram rulers and successors that reached its peak of glory under Panembahan Senopati, the founder and the first ruler of Islamic Mataram.
After swimming through the seas of history in Kraton Surakarta Museum, you can directly head for Sasana Sewaka which is located next to the museum. In Sasana Sewaka which is beautified by sapodilla tree, you must put off your shoes or sandals to walk on the sands brought from Mount Merapi and Parangkusuma Beach. You are prohibited to take the sands there.
Around the area there is also a tower called Panggung Sanggabuwana. They say it was used by Susuhunan to meditate and see Nyai Rara Kidul, the ruler of Southern Seas. Besides, it actually functioned as a fortification too, that is to watch the situation around the palace. The Sunanate of Kraton Surakarta is about 500x700 meter square wide and is surrounded by the walls called Baluarti. The walls are 3 to 5 meter high and a meter wide. They surround the palace in a rectangle shape.
The Sunanate of Kraton Surakarta Hadiningrat is situated in the center of Solo City, specifically in Baluwarti Village, Pasar Kliwon Subdistrict, Surakarta City, Central Java Province, Indonesia.
Solo lies between Yogyakarta and Surabaya. From Yogyakarta, Solo is 65 km to the east; while from Surabaya, it is 285 km to the west. From another big city, Semarang, Solo is 100 km to the southeast. You can get there by plane and land in Adi Sumarmo Airport, Solo; by bus to Tirtonadi Bus Station; or by train to Balapan Solo Railway Station. From the airport, bus station, or railway station, you can get to the center of the city to visit Kraton Surakarta by bus, taxi, cart, or minibus.
The ticket to visit Kraton Surakarta costs Rp 4.000,00. If you bring a camera, you get charged Rp 2.000. Kraton Surakarta is open on Mondays to Thursdays 09.00-14.00 West Indonesian Standard Time (WIST) and on Saturdays to Sundays 09.00-15.00 WIST. It is closed on Fridays.
If you are willing to visit the Kraton Surakarta Museum, you get charged Rp 4.000, per person for local tourists and Rp 8.000,00 for foreigners. Each camera is charged Rp 2.000. If you come in group, each person will get Rp 500, off charge. The schedule of the museum follows the schedule of the whole kraton.
F. Accommodations and Other Facilities
Kraton area is already equipped with some facilities for the convenience of the visitors, such as tour guides, Javanese traditional wears for lending, brochures, and toilets. Muslim visitors can say prayers in the Grand Mosque of Surakarta in nearby front of the palace. For you the shopper-type, souvenirs are available in the shops around the palace. To get a more complete collection of batik, you just have to walk to Klewer Market that is only about 200 meters away from the palace.
As a transit city that is developing fast, Surakarta must also provide some lodgings. You may choose an inn or a star hotel. In this city, it is also easy to find a restaurant of either Solo traditional food or international cuisines.
Photo(s): Collection of Jogjatrip.com
Translation: Al-Amri Arif Sandy
(Primary data and various sources)