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Imogiri Royal Cemetery Java Heritage Attraction

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One of the Tomb Building in Imogiri Royal Cemetery. Img: Jogja Prov official

Bantul’s Imogiri Royal Cemetery is nothing like other cemeteries in general thanks to its scenic exterior. At a glance, it resembles a centuries-old Javanese housing neighborhood. With traditional huts and structures and hundreds of staircases going up and down. Leading guests to various spots in the cemetery.

Black moss covering the staircases and tombstones gives a clue to how old the cemetery is. Strolling around this ten-hectare graveyard gives a feeling of stepping back into the past. Dull red bricks have lost their brilliant vermilion hues as they age. The paths and stairs are pale grays. Just like the rocks they were carved out of.

Some of the buildings are black while others are white, depends on the material. Despite the different colors, they all share one thing in common. It resembles thick vintage Javanese architecture. Another cultural influence here is Hinduism, indicated by the model of some establishment.

Imogiri Royal cemetery magic water
Imogiri magic water in 2 jugs. Img: Heni Murhanayanti

The high red-brick gate is similar to those in Bali, humbly greeting the visitors. Its pointy tips at every corner of the gateway are curled up facing the sky. The vague Hindu ambiance in the cemetery refers to the pre-Islam era. That's when people still prayed to Hindu deities.

Imogiri Royal Cemetery Dated Back To The 17th Century

The royal cemetery is built in 1632 by the order of Sultan Agung Mataram III. He assigned the kingdom’s renowned architect Kyai Tumenggung Tjitrokoesoemo to execute the project. Sultan then tosses a handful of sand and lets the wind carry it.

And that is where he knows where the cemetery should be. The sand lands on the hills of Pajimetan Girirejo and thus the work began.

Imogiri Royal Cemetery Entrance
The first step to get to Imogiri royal cemetery. Img: Lody Sanjaya

The Death of The Traitor

Previously in 1628 and 1629, Mataram Kingdom failed to banish the Dutch colonials from Jayakarta. Surprisingly, it was because of a Mataram’s soldier who served as a spy for the Dutch. The traitor Tumenggung Endranata tells classified information, resulting in Mataram’s double defeats.

Later when the King Sultan Agung found out. He was furious and sentence Endranata to death. Sultan had Endranata’s lifeless body cut to three pieces. He ordered his servant to buried the traitor body separately at the Royal Cemetery.

The traitor head later buried in Gapura Supit Urang. While the torso was buried under the staircases. As for the remaining left, the feet beneath the bottom of cemetery pool. Thus, the Sultan made it clear from that day. That every cemetery’s visitors would step on the disgraced betrayer. The King meant it as a harsh warning so no-one would ever dare to double-cross him again.

imogiri staircase
The body of the traitor lying somewhere at Imogiri cemetery stairs. Img: arixxeordinary

As a royal cemetery, it is where the deceased blue blood are laid to rest. Tourists can see the tombs of Astana Kasultan Agung, Surakarta Hadiningrat, and Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat. The three sultanates’ burial grounds are located in three different zones. Sultan Agung Mataram’s family graveyard is on the top. While Surakarta’s is in the west, and Yogyakarta’s is in the east.

Long Live Javanese Ancient Heritage

To pay respect to the kings, there are certain rules for guests when entering the cemetery. One of them is the dress code. Either tourists or pilgrims must wear traditional Javanese outfits upon entering the gravesites. Luckily, the caretakers of Imogiri Royal Cemetery rent the obligatory clothes for the tourists.

Visitors Dress code & Guideline

Males have to wrap a long cloth kain around their waist down to the ankles. Along with a sleeved-shirt Beskap and fabric cap Blangkon. Follow by the other ornaments such as Timang and Samir to complete the Javanese appearance. While females have it much simpler when it comes to the Javanese outfit.

Imogiri Cemetery Dress Code
Locals and tourist must wear Javanese outfit upon entering the gravesites.

A tube top Kemben, long fabric covering down the feet is the dress code. Before setting their feet to the gravesites, everyone has to take off their footwear. Guests must note that they cannot bring cameras and wear gold jewelry either. Be in the very best behavior.

And hence cursing, talking loud and inappropriately is strictly prohibited. It is like facing the royal family members, and the king, in person. Here, Javanese mysticism and myths thrive. As many have travel distance to pray for luck.

Imogiri Cemetery Magic Water

The fragrant smell of burnt incenses mixed with flowers fills the air. The cemetery apparently seems to nourish the “believers” by catering to their spiritual quest. It has four “mystical” big water containers made of clay renowned for having miraculous benefits. Pilgrims take some of the water and save it in bottles, wishing for success and everything.

Clay Jug for magic water
The magic water placed in a clay jug. Img: Bagus Painting

Just like the pilgrims, the water container quartet came from afar as well. Nyai Danumurti water container a special gift from Palembang’s the Sriwijaya Kingdom. Meanwhile, the Samudera Pasai Kingdom in Aceh presents Kyai Danumaya water container. Thai Siam Monarch gave Nyai Siyem water container.

While the Ngerum Kingdom in Turkey handed Kyai Mendung water container. In spite of its profound mysticism, travelers can simply adore the grand architectural design. The cemetery’s well-preserved complex encapsulates the very essence of Javanese legacy from its victorious ages.

Each nook and cranny unveils picturesque pieces. Certainly worth to photograph or reminisce in memories. A sensation of living in the old Java floods in as visitors roam the archaic alleys.

verdant tree at imogiri royal cemetery
Verdant tree as the cemetery is located in a hill. Img: ZNH Channel

Imogiri Royal Cemetery Opening Hours

The cemetery opens every day for pilgrims and tourist. While it closed during the fasting month Ramadhan and holy days. On Monday and Sunday, it opens early at 10 AM. While on Friday, it closed at 1 PM due to Muslim Friday Prayer. Every 1st and 8th of Islam’s Syawal month, it operates at 10:30 AM.

Imogiri Royal Cemetery Opening Hours
Monday 10:00 - 13:00 WIB
Friday 13:30 - 16:00 WIB
1 Syawal (Islamic Calendar) 10:30 - 13:00 WIB
8 Syawal  10:30 - 13:00 WIB
10 Besar (Javanese Calendar) 10:30 - 13:00 WIB

Nearby: Serenity in A Green Lush, Imogiri Pine Forest

Imogiri Royal Cemetery Entrance Fee

The Cemetery complex belongs to the Yogyakarta Royal Family. There is no entrance fee to enter the royal cemetery area. However, a specific dress code is applied both for locals or foreign visitor.

Imogiri Royal Cemetery Entrance Fee
Entrance Fee Donation
Rent Javanese Dress Rp 10.000

See: The Royal Heritage Collection in Ullen Sentalu Museum 

Imogiri Royal Cemetery Facilities

Since the Mataram Kingdom practiced Islam, the cemetery possesses the ancient yet grand Pajimatan Mosque. Smaller mosques known as Mushola are available too. Allowing such convenience for Muslim travelers. Public restrooms, safe parking area, food stalls selling indigenous dishes are also in sight.

Friendly, informative, and communicative guides are ready to walk the vacationers through the cemetery. Even though the Imogiri Royal cemetery offers free admission. Everyone is welcome to donate some money for maintenance.

How To Get To Imogiri Royal Cemetery

Tourists can make their way to the destination in their own vehicles or public transportation. Take a Yogyakarta-Panggang bus, or Yogyakarta-Petayan, from Giwangan Bus Terminal. And stop at Imogiri Bus Terminal. The journey should take 30 minutes more or less depends on the traffic. From Imogiri Bus Terminal, just take a 250-meter walk to the cemetery.

Royal Cemetery Address & Location

The cemetery location is 19 km from downtown. It located in Jl. Makam Raja, Imogiri, Bantul City, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta 55782.

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