[an error occurred while processing this directive]
YOGYAKARTA > KRATON > Siti Hinggil Pagelaran
[an error occurred while processing this directive][an error occurred while processing this directive]



[MORE PHOTOS]

LOCATION:
Siti Hinggil Pagelaran is located at the southern end of Jl Malioboro, right after Alun Alun Lor (the open compound to the north of the whole Keraton's precinct). It is accessible on foot, by becak, or local cabs.

The entrance fee is about Rp15.000 ($2.00) with optional fee of Rp1.000 if you would like to bring your digital or video camera. Guides are also optional and can be hired at the entrance.

DESCRIPTION:

For some reason, the entrance into Siti Hinggil Pagelaran is treated separately with the rest of the Keraton complex. Nonetheless, for the minimal entrance fee, one should not complain too much; except in my case, I was kind of forced to hire a palace's tourist guide who was trying to scam me (more on that later!).

Siti Hinggil means "elevated land" in Javanese, while Pagelaran denotes an area close to the entrance which functions as a waiting place for the chief ministers (called "Patih" in Javanese, or "Bendahara" in Malay) and their governing members before meeting the Sultan.

The tourist guide was fine, except he seemed to blabber incessantly with profound factual that got lost on me as soon as it entered my ears. On the fringes of the pagelaran (some sort of a stage set higher above ground), there are two glass-walled enclosures that showcase various wax characters who played important roles in the kingdom - the Sultan himself, the soldiers ("prajurit"), his wives, sons, daughters, gundik or dayang (ladies who work in palace, occasionally personified as royalty-class mistresses, but not always the case), etc. The characters are all traditionally decorated with exquisite royal dressing.

Stepping south of pagelaran, to your left and right are two halls called Bangsal Pacikeran ("Pacikeran" means the act of beheading someone, a practice that has long discontinued, fortunately). As you climb up the stairs, you will arrive at Bangsal Witono (or another spelling has it as "Witana"). This open-air hall's main feature is Bangsal Manguntur Tangkil, a shrine-like stage used by the Sultans for worshipping God. At one section of Bangsal Witono, there is a miniature model for Kagungan Dalem Masjid Agung Ngayogyakarta, the regency's sacred mosque, which 3-tiered roofing looks more like a Buddhist temple than Arab-influenced architecture of modern days.

You may circle Bangsal Witono and come back to the staircase for the exit. Before stepping down, there are two small halls, one at each side of the stairs. To the left is Bangsal Pecaosan Jaksa where special gamelan instrument are kept. The tourist guide told me that the bangsal is sacred (or termed as a "keramat") - it safeguards the palace compound from thieves or ill-intentions. To the right is Bangsal Pecaosan Gandek which is empty.

Outside the staircase on the left is a wall relief to commemorate the 9th Sultan's contribution towards Indonesia's independence from the Dutch (Relief Perjuangan Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono IX).

Now, back to the tourist guide. He brought me to the nearby Keraton village which I thought was part of the Keraton tour. Soon, I found myself at a souvenir store selling batik painting. After it was clear that I wasn't interested, he diverted me to another set of meandering streets around the village to visit two more gift shops. Obviously I already made up my mind not to purchase anything, so it only added to my annoyance. Finally he bought me to a posh restaurant called Gadri Resto, expecting me to eat there. After we were sort of kicked out from the compound by a restaurant guard, he finally waved goodbye and complained about me tipping him scantily (yes, I only gave him Rp5.000 for his not-so-deserving service). We parted ways after I added another Rp10.000 to put a feigned smile on his face.

Just as I am writing this travel article, I ran across similar caution written by Wikipedia, which I quote:

While the (Keraton) guide is part of the entrance fee, they might expecting tips. Some guide might offer extended trip to sultan's servants batik workshop, this is a scam as they only bring you to a regular batik shop with steep price. It's a good idea to refuse their offer politely.

MY VERDICT:
Literally a living museum of the much-admired Sri Sultans of Yogyakarta. Beware of the tourist guide who may try to scam you!

[an error occurred while processing this directive]