Klewer Market and the Great Mosque of Surakarta Palace

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Klewer Market in the morning.

I started walking to north towards Alun-Alun Lor (North Square) of Hadiningrat Surakarta Palace. Its distance was less than half a kilometer from palace courtyard. I arrived in five minutes. As far as my eyes could see, Alun-Alun Lor was quite well-maintained, with an area of ​​almost seven hectares. Covered by imperfect green grass which was covering the entire square, asphalt paths crossed from north to south and from west to east and in each side of square were surrounded by large trees (banyan trees in between). Meanwhile, to limiting the road which surrounding the square, a chest-high iron fence were built which aligned with inner boundary of sidewalk.

I seem lazy to go to the middle of square, just kept walking around it and intended to go to eastern part of square to kill my curiosity about the biggest textile shopping center in Solo, i.e Klewer Market. Like Tanah Abang Market in Jakarta, Klewer Market was the city’s economic pulse with a very capable cash flow cycle. I arrived right in front of market gate which was still quiet. Some traders have started to come and bringing coli of textiles upstairs. Meanwhile, several stalls seemed to be opened to prepare for trade that morning. I tried to step to the first floor and went around looking at each side. Looking at its surrounding conditions, I could imagine that this market would be very busy if all stalls were opened.

I won’t wait until Klewer Market actually was opened, I immediately went down and heading to north of the market. This time I would visit Great Mosque of Surakarta Palace which was still part of Hadiningrat Surakarta Palace. The mosque, with a three-tiered roofs, appeared to be devoted to witnessing the marriage of a couple who seemed to be important people, because I saw there was a greeting flower board from President Joko Widodo and his family. That event then discouraged me to entering the mosque.

Great Mosque of Surakarta Palace.
Great Mosque of Surakarta Palace

The mosque was decorated with classic lampposts in its courtyard, even more beautiful with its elegant single minaret which standing in north of courtyard. This 232-years-old mosque was still quite dashing and elegant standing at east side of Alun-Alun Lor which was side by side with Klewer Market.

Finally, I had been in the last part of Surakarta Hadiningrat Palace complex. I started to leave palace area by passing eastern side of Slamet Riyadi Street which was marked by a Brigadier General Slamet Riyadi statue who looked dashing while pointing a gun into sky. Slamet Riyadi himself was a hero of Solo City who fall in Ambon while carrying out state duties in quelling the rebellion of Republic of South Maluku.

Now my intention was turning towards my first destination when I did the survey yesterday. I wasn’t looking for Dawet Telasih Ice, but a traditional culinary which was quite famous in Solo.

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Gatokaca and Pregiwa Romanticism in Sriwedari Park

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Sriwedari Park gate.

Because Loji Gandrung was once used by Colonel Gatot Subroto as the commado centre in facing Operatie Kraai which was launched by Dutch in December 1948. That was a reason which I would find later why a statue chosen to be placed in front of Loji Gandrung was General Gatoto Subroto Statue.

Now we would talk about other topic….

In the past….

Before Manahan Stadium was built by Cendana Family*1 through Ibu Tien Soeharto Foundation in 1998. Solo City had a small but legendary football stadium. The stadium which had given birth to a professional football club that had made history in Indonesian football, namely Arseto Solo FC. The stadium itself was called Sriwedari Stadium. This naming itself was of course related to its location in Sriwedari area.

That night, of course, I had no intention of visiting Sriwedari Stadium after visiting Loji Gandrung to seek information. But you just needed to know that on east side of this legendary stadium, there was a cultural park which was famous in Wayang Orang Art*2 performance. This cultural park was known as Sriwedari Park.

Fifteen minutes past nine o’clock in evening, exiting Loji Gandrung gate, I continued my survey trip to east for half a kilometer. Along south side of Slamet Riyadi Street, I stepped into night crowd. Until I arrived at a name board entitled “I Love Solo” which was located in a small park under a large tree, right in the middle of a wide sidewalk. This was a sign that my step had reached in the destination.

Hangout place in front of Sriwedari Park.
Gatotkaca and Pregiwa statue.

I was greeted by a magnificent gate with a “Buto*3” mask on it then followed by a welcome greeting by a golden statues of Gatotkaca and Pregiwa*4 in courtyard. From there alone, Javanese cultural aura smelled very strongly. Meanwhile, a large pavilion filled one side of  park.

From the information which I read on an event calendar at one point. Exactly two months before my visitation, this place has held an annual performance in Wayang Orang Art preservation effort, i.e 7th Wayang Bocah Festival. It seemed that Solo was very active in preserving culture. Having cultural events from an early age to providing cultural venues such as Sriwedari Park was a real proof.

At back-east of pavilion stands Gedung Kesenian Solo. While on the right side, there were several neat project boards which surround THR (Taman Hiburan Rakyat) Sriwedari. I received information that this park had been closed and would be replaced by Taman Sriwedari Mosque. THR Sriwedari itself was one of legends of an amusement park at Solo city centre on the past. Previously, this area was known as Bon Rojo (Kebon Rojo/King’s Garden) in Paku Buwono X era.

Meanwhile, to back-west of pavilion was Gedung Wayang Orang Sriwedari. This building had played an important role in Wayang Orang Art  preservation which had been functioning for nearly a century.

Sriwedari Park was a place which worth visiting if there was a cultural event during Marketing Conference. However, if there was no, there was very little chance of visiting it.

Note:

Cendana Family*1 is Second President of Republic of Indonesia’s family.

Wayang Orang Art*2  is a type of classical Javanese dance theatrical performance with themes taken from episodes of the Ramayana or Mahabharata.

Buto*3 is another term for evil giant

Gatotkaca and Pregiwa*4. Gatotkacais a character in Mahabharata epic, he is a son of Bima. Pregiwa is Gatotkaca’s wife.

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A Project at Loji Gandrung Front Yard.

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Loji Gandrung

Have you ever visited Merdeka Palace? Or visit DKI Jakarta City Hall? Yes, these two important places in Jakarta often offer visiting tours.

So, what about Solo City?

Yups, Solo City also has a similar tour. A place which has become attention center for this tourism type is Loji Gandrung, An official residence of Solo’s Mayor which is located on south side of Slamet Riyadi Street.

The night went on, it was almost nine o’clock in evening when I finished in designing a Marketing Conference teaser. Luckily, I got help from a design staff in Jakarta. I have also sent that teaser to Whatsapp number and email of all prospective Marketing Conference participants.

Now, I thought again about next destination. My task this time was to choose several destinations along Jaladara Tourist Train line which be rented by event comittee to get around Solo City on second day of Marketing Conference. So in remaining time, before it got too late, I would survey at least three tourist attractions which were located nearby each other.

I immediately ordered a taxi online, then drove to downtown. I moved south for five kilometers from Manahan area to Laweyan area.

Loji Gandrung, Sir!”, I asked online taxi driver.

Wow, it had closed, Sir

Oh, it’s okay, Sir. I just want to find information there”.

Oh well, Sir. Loji Gandrung is indeed popular in Solo City, Sir. In the past, President Soekarno often stayed at Loji Gandrung when he visited Solo”.

Wow, it’s cool, Sir“, I started to be stunned by a story from that young driver.

Our conversation topic progressed to several things, until driver hit brake just across Loji Gandrung gate.

Loji Gandrung gate.

Without hesitation, I entered the gate. It seemed that renovation was underway at Loji Gandrung front yard. I just saw the top end of a bronze statue whics was tightly covered by a row of project boards. My arrival made a security out of his post and swiftly directed his steps towards me.

What do you need, Sir?. Sorry this is a city government building. It’s forbidden to carelessly enter the yard”, he admonished.

Oh sorry, sir. I just want to find information

What information, Sir?”

Sir, we will rent Jaladara Train and intend to make this place as a tourist destination on train route. Can I know the procedure, so that I along with event participants can visit this historic place, sir?”

Wow, the licensing is a little tight, Sir because it’s being renovated. But you may submit a formal application and is addressed to Head of Household Department. Hopefully on the event date, you can be allowed to enter”.

Oh good, Sir. I hope so“.

I looked around. This Loji Gandrung building had a very classic architecture. There was a blend of European and Javanese architecture. Thick European walls were covered with a typical Javanese roof. The front and back yard of the building was wide with several trees.

I realized that what was in front of me was a government building and I couldn’t stay long in that place. I must immediately go and empathize to security by did’t disturbed the comfort of that place.

Before I stepped out of Loji Gandrung yard. I was still intrigued by project mystery around front yard. Finally, I ventured to ask to securiry.

“Sir, whose statue is blocked by this project board?”

“Oh, that’s a statue of General Gatot Subroto, Sir”.

I said thank to secutiry because he had accepted me well even though he only talked for no more than fifteen minutes.

Why should it be General Gatot Subroto statue?……..

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Solo Paragon’s Latte: Adi Soemarmo International Airport’s DAMRI Bus

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Mr. Donny, it’s been a long time since we met. Before you go to hotel, please, stop by for a moment at Solo Paragon. We can talk and drink coffee together!”, Mr. Arman short message while I was still in waiting room at Halim Perdanakusuma International Airport, Jakarta.

Mr. Arman….He is the husband of my client, a Bangladeshi who became an Indonesian citizen several years ago.

Who are you with in Solo, Sir?“, I replied to his short message.

I am with my second son, sir. I am waiting for your arrival, ok? ”He asked with a little forcefully.

Okay, Sir Arman”.

On 17:30 hours, finally, Citilink QG 126 perfectly landed at Adi Soemarmo International Airport, Solo. In the end, I really canceled on going straight to Grand Amira Hotel by Azana in Pasar Kliwon area. I decided to fulfill Mr. Arman’s coffee drinking invitation.

DAMRI taxi and bus ticket sales counter.
A corridor leads to parking area and DAMRI bus shelter.
DAMRI bus was waiting for me.

Oh yes….

Several years ago, before actively writing on this blog, I had landed at the same airport. It’s just that, at that time I was picked up by a friend with his car to city center. But this time, I would try a public transportation mode to downtown.

I slowly noticed that in the east of airport terminal building, there was a construction project for airport train station which was still half finished. “Finally Solo will have an airport train too“, I muttered. Salute with the development of Batik City*1.

Dark quickly acquired time, I canceled airport exploration. I prefered to immediately look for a counter which sell DAMRI bus tickets. I found that counter in hallway of eastern arrival hall, next to taxi ticket counter.

Get ready for downtown.
Ticket.
See you later Adi Soemarmo International Airport.

That afternoon the counter was quiet, even I only had one queue with a old woman. Behind me, there weren’t passengers waiting in line anymore. Based on information from counter staff, DAMRI bus would stop at its final destination in Tirtonadi Terminal. Towards Solo Paragon in Mangkubumen area, I was advised to stop at Solo Square, a shopping center in Laweyan area. Paid Rp. 25,000, I got a ticket to downtown. “The bus is waiting at its shelter, Sir” she told me.

I quickly walked down a corridor to airport parking area. Seen at the end of corridor, waiting for me a medium sized blue bus. I saw that old woman who was queuing in front of me had entered through the middle door. While the driver seemed to be waving at me to hurry up because bus was about to leave. Even though its seats weren’t full, the bus prioritized punctuality to immediately head to city which is about 15 km away.

The driver checked my ticket before I entered. I sat in the middle seat and soon bus slowly left airport. Riding along Adi Sumarmo Street, continued on Adi Sucipto Street and entered Slamet Riyadi Street. Passing several famous buildings such as De Tjolomadoe, Javenir and Purwosari Station.

Within 20 minutes, the bus started to stop at Solo Square shopping mall and I got off at the edge of Slamet Riyadi Street which is the city’s protocol road. I thought it would be better to have dinner before drinking coffee with Mr. Arman. Finally I stopped at street food stall, I sat down in an “angkringan*2” and ate some “cat rice*3” and some egg satay, shells satay and crackers. Enjoying ginger drink in angkringan was something I haven’t done for a long time. This habit wasn’t a matter of cheap price, but rather about taste and how to spend the night in Batik City.

Angkringan and cat rice.
Arrived at di Solo Paragon Hotel & Residences.

Mr. Donny, have you landed?“, Mr. Arman sent another short message.

Yes sir, I am only 4 km from your place. I’ll be there soon, sir. Wait yes!”, I briefly replied.

I immediately paid for my menu and ordered an online motorcycle taxi to Solo Paragon Hotel & Residences. Within 10 minutes, I arrived and headed straight to lobby.

Entering the lobby, I could see Mr. Arman and Rishan (her 9 years old son) waiting at the door. I shook his hand and lightly hugged then we spent until midnight just talking, sharing and enjoying a cup of latte.

Thank you Mr Arman.

Thank you Solo.

Note:

*1. Batik City is the other name for Solo City or Surakarta City.

*2. Angkringan is a street food stall typical of solo city.

*3. Cat rice in Indonesia is known as Nasi Kucing. Namely, rice packets which is its size is a fist.

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