"An underwater Mosque?" Top 5 Page for this destination Yogyakarta Things to Do Tip by kokoryko
Yogyakarta Things to Do: 322 reviews and 732 photos
Javanese Muslim translate Sumur Gumuling into “Community well”, so it is a Mosque, and indeed there are two mirhabs in this strange circular building; people entered there through a main entrance and gathered on two levels around strange central platform, located above the well, which can be accessed from four up-going stairs and one down-going stair.
Other say once you are on the platform, there are four easy ways (down, leading you to sins and hell) and one difficult way (up, leading to virtue and heaven); this is also a Muslim interpretation.
Sultan Hamengkubuwono I was not a strict Muslim, he also was Hindu, as lots of décor of the palace suggest, and as a king (not Sultan), he was a reincarnation of Vishnu, and Vishnu was worshipped in Jogjakarta, in the 19th century, and some say, on special Hindu days, the Sultan stood on the platform and the worshippers were around him and praying. . . . Well, how can we know now? Just. . . I do not know about other circular mosques, mosque building obeys to geometrical rules concerning the direction to Mecca. . . . but in Angkor, the general shape of the West Mebon a temple dedicated to Vishnu, is a very similar, surrounded by water, with a well. . . . . . . . . .
A very poetic legend is linked to this well: the destiny of the Hindu kings of Mataram was to be married to Pelabuhan Ratu (the queen of the sea): the underground water system was linked to the sea, and the Sultan could visit the Queen using this way. . . . . Does not this remind you the previous tip, and the hidden home of the Sultan?
And. . . . if the architects and engineers designed only a water catchment to regulate the water circulation between the immersed corridors, and to protect the gardens from floods? Ah! That is too trivial!
What is sure, is that it is a very beautiful place, a sort of a sober architecture with beautiful (and difficult for the photographer without wide angle lens!) perspectives and light effects.
The central platform seen from lower level (picture 1) is located above the well: you see the stair up to heaven and two stairs down to hell. The geometry of the platform and stairs (picture 2) is very, sober, just amazing with its simplicity! If you walk up the stair, you go to heaven, and on picture 3 you may see the conception of heaven of many guys! (oooops!:)))))
At the upper level are eight niches from where you can have interesting and beautiful perspectives of the building.
You do not find the creatures of God at the lower level (picture 4), but the construction above the well offers beautiful perspectives (picture 5). It is just beautiful and peaceful to walk in this small circular lower-than ground tower!
I heard many local movie makers and photographers use Sumur Gumuling for their décor.
One “official” entrance is at the south end of Jalan Ngasem; follow the West side of Alun alun, south, next to the Kraton, 100m, right on Jl. Rotowijayan, 250m, left, Jl. Ngasem, 200m, there you are, cross Jl. Patehan, walk across the picturesque birds market, you will arrive.
As it is an inhabited area, you can enter many ways, via small back streets; for instance, follow the previous way, turn right at Patehan, 150m left on Jl. Kadipaten, then the first or second alley, left, you enter in the complex.
Directions: Here is a map.
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