Sumur Gumuling, Secret Mosque of Yogyakarta Sultanate

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Our tour guide waited for a moment for Year End Party participants to enjoy king’s bathing pool, empress and their sons and daughters in the past. For a few minutes I imagined some possibilities of what the story would look like in this place on more than two centuries ago, definitely classics looked like colossal cinemas from old kingdoms. For a moment I thoughtfully enjoyed that imagination.

My focus was destroyed by tour guide’s call to continue journey into another part of Taman Sari. “We will see mosque, ladies and gentlemen!“, He said. I just followed with an ordinary feeling. I could only imagine an appearance of Great Mosque of Surakarta Palace, which I visited three months ago. “Oh, this mosque appearance will like that“, I closed my own guess.

For a moment I was in a large and neatly arranged courtyard with a visitor circular path which follow area shape. A magnificent ornate gate proudly stood at one side of this area, large and old trees covered participants from hot weather of Yogyakarta.

Gedhong Gapura Hageng (Gapura Agung), Taman Sari’s main gate.
A small gate to the mosque.

Meanwhile, on opposite side of it, there was a small gate with a door which leading visitors to underground. Ten minutes later, tour guide called group and they began to follow him into gate.

I was at back of them and began to descend stairs to follow the underground tunnel. “What kind of mosque is in underground?“, I kept curiously wondering.

This mosque isn’t what you imagine, it is just a tunnel for worship. Because this mosque was hidden from Dutch colonialm. In ancient times, Dutch colonialism prohibited kingdom members from performing worship“, tour guide explained, which made me directly understood.

To tunnels.
To tunnels.

It was only camouflage of a function as mosque. A brilliant idea from Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono I, the first Sultan of Yogyakarta”, I started to admire this architecture in my mind. The tunnel could be passed without having to walk down your head, designed in such a way which it was sufficient for adults to pass through. During regular intervals, lamps were installed which would certainly helpful when the day turns dark. Tunnel walls were also shown original stone texture without paint, adding to its classic atmosphere.

I continued to explore along tunnel to find the end of this unique architectural masterpiece. I was even more amazed, the tunnel led to an arrangement of four staircases which were additional part of tunnels and also fifth staircase which was protruded from second floor tunnel to form a stage. “This stage was a pulpit for khateeb (Islam preacher) to give sermon, and palace’s family members would pray and sit listening to the sermon from the tunnel“, tour guide stood on pulpit while pointing his finger in several tunnels.

Tunnel as a mosque.
Other side of tunnel.
A pulpit.

Sermon sound would be heard until the end of tunnels because it used tunnel walls to echo the voice of khateeb” he continued.

Wow, I really praised the smart strategy of Sultan to be able to worship in the midst of colonial government’s prohibition. If Dutch colonial had inspected this place, of course, they would never have known if these tunnels actually functioned as a mosque of Yogyakarta Sultanate which was very secretive. They must have only suspected that this tunnels only served as an access between sides in Taman Sari area.

This mosque was nicknamed as SUMUR GUMULING.

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Visiting Surakarta Hadiningrat Palace

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Soundly resting in Amaris Hotel Sriwedari made me woke up just as Shubuh call to prayer rang out. Taking time to enjoy the dawn from behind a glass window in the room, I decided to splash under the shower with warm water afterwards. I deliberately lingered under the shower, perfecting my muscle relaxation after since two day before I had to chase with time doing lots of survey agendas exploring Solo City.

After more than half an hour of bathing, I immediately cleaned up, tidied up my bag and prepared myself for my third day of survey. On exactly seven in the morning, I was at hotel’s restaurant for breakfast. While Rahadian, my Vice Chair of Marketing Conference, had been in the restaurant since half an hour ago. He leaned closer to my dining table when I ate fried rice combined with mendoan*1 and hot coffee. We chatted and discussed about the last survey that day.

After thirty minutes in enjoying a variety of restaurant menu, Rahadian and I started ordering an online taxi for heading east to Baluwarti area. That morning the official palace belonging to Surakarta Sunanate became the first survey destination on my third day in Solo. Shortly waiting in the lobby, a black Toyota Agya came to pick us up. I immediately got into front seat and Rahadian at back, then that online taxi started went for two kilometers in ten minutes to reach the destination.

The palace building was 277 years old.

Fifteen minutes before eight o’clock, I arrived at Surakarta Hadiningrat Palace. That day, I planned to shorten our survey time because Rahadian would come home early by catching Lodaya train departure to Bandung at 13:00 hours. Therefore, I went to palace when its operating hours weren’t yet opened.

Rahadian and I enjoyed palace frontyard which also functioned as a one-way traffic lane. But there was one part of palace building which really stole our attention, i.e a thirty meter high tower which was visible from palace frontyard. That was Sanggabuwana Tower which was founded 38 years after palace building was built. It could be guessed that this tower functioned as a watchtower because this palace was founded during Dutch colonialism era.

But it was said that the tower was also used to meet Nyi Roro Kidul*2 “The Queen of South Sea” by Sri Susuhan Pakubuwono III.

Like an city planning of the ancient kingdom era, Surakarta Hadiningrat Palace was flanked by square, i.e Alun-Alun Lor (North Square) and Alun-Alun Kidul (South Square). Alur-Alur Lor was a busier square, this was where the “Sekatenan” (Night Market) was held to commemorate the Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday every year.

So to explore area around the palace, I started to continue my journey to Alun-Alun Lor by walking. Alun-Alun Lor was no more than half a kilometer from palace and could be reached by walking in ten minutes.

What were destinations around Alun-Alun Lor?

Note:

Mendoan*1  is a type of fried food that comes from the residency of Banyumas, Central Java, Indonesia

Nyi Roro Kidul*2 is an Indonesian goddess of the sea. She is the Queen of the Southern Sea (Indian Ocean) in Sundanese and Javanese mythology

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