Friday, December 23, 2011

The Journey Never Ends, More Zen Architecture, A visit To The Sultan's Palace

I've now returned home to Hawaii after a long series of flights that returned me to South Korea where a long, nine-hour airport layover ensued before eventually boarding bound for Honolulu. And though this leg of the trip has been completed, the journey, in so many ways, has just begun. The memories are fresh and the photo record of my days abroad have allowed me to relive the experiences, places & people I have visited, met & enjoyed along the way.

When I left you last, our happy posse of pilgrims had made our way into the main shopping district of Yogyakarta on the Island of Java. My original plan to visit Java was simply to visit the Buddhist Temple Complex of Borobudur on the outskirts of the city. The place had been calling to me as a photographer for many years and now I had the opportunity to see it for myself. Fortunately, Mr. T decided to join the journey to Java, enriching the experience more than I had thought possible. It was Mr. T that suggested the additional side trips... the one to Malioboro Road... and a couple of others that we now recount in this journal entry...

After making to separate visits to Borobudur, while magnificent and offering many great opportunities for photo-making, our little group was left with a feeling that can only be described as a bit heavy. That quickly changed when Mr. T suggested another side trip, this time to a massive temple complex closer to the city of Yogya. Candi Prambanan, built in the 9th century, is the largest Hindu Temple outside of India. Occupying a massive footprint I imagine along the lines of Angor Wat in Cambodia, the site hosts various shrines honoring the various deities of the Hindu pantheon as well at least one shrine dedicated to both Hindu & Buddhist teachings.

It was here that each member of our party had remarkable experiences, sometimes tearful moments as we toured the site, now in various states of either disarray or reconstruction. Prambanan has been declared a World Heritage site by Unesco and efforts have been underway to reconstruct earthquake & volcano ravaged structures since the 1950's. Work continues to this day and it appears for decades to come.. some shrines appear completely restored while other are reduced to piles of rubble with work parties working carefully to identify and organize the rubble for eventual reconstruction.

Each of us felt an overwhelming sense of presence here... remarkably different from the experiences at Borobudur. The architecture of the place alone was far more stunning than previous sites visited and the sudden, what I can only describe as a lightness in being, that took hold as I walked amongst ancient stone & gods was a bit overwhelming.

Here are some pics:

One other side trip we squeezed into our limited time in Jogya was a visit to the Sultan's Palace, a sprawling series of buildings, courtyards and pavillions, now largely open to the public and serving as a sort of museum & historic record of the royal lineage. The Sultan, who is also the current Governor of Java,
still maintains a residence & presence in a quartered off section of the massive compound. The areas open to the public are staffed with courtly musicians and an ample supply of Palace attendants.

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