Yogyakarta: Into the heart of Indonesia

Buddhist temple Borobodur, a UNESCO Heritage site in Yogyakarta

An ancient city and the last remaining Sultanate of Indonesia, YogyaKarta has long nurtured the Javanese connection with the outer world and has been a cradle of art and culture. Old ways of life exist in Yogyakarta, side by side with bustling modernity and the city decorates itself with the symbols of traditions of Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam. From all night shadow puppetry, the age old extraordinary Buddhist temples of BoroBodur and the equally impressive Hindu ones of Prambanan, socially aware graffiti on the wall to the beautifully styled Batik designs; Yogyakarta, Indonesia’s second most visited spot, is a cultural palette on display.

The city comes as a huge relief from the urbane madness of Jakarta, narrow roads lined with trees, old buildings wearing a colonial touch, shops styled as pagodas, slow life, frequent smiles by strangers, alleys lined with themed restaurants, art cafes often buzzing with some performances, random music bands performing on streets and endless boards advertising batik designing lessons; Yogyakarta gives you a feeling of being in a different era.

Prambanan Temple_Yogyakarta

Prambanan Temple, one of UNESCO Heritage sites in Yogyakarta (pic as appeared in HuffPost)

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Hampi: An Indian Rome

It was like moving on a movie set, a place so dramatic in its natural form, is hard to imagine. Unreal and bewitching, the ruins of Hampi, lying scattered over a landscape to leave you mesmerized. Giant boulders perching for miles, set under azure blue sky with jade green palm cover serving as the background. Ah! It’s truly out of a set, wrapped in time, nursed by nature. It’s a story of an empire which never died, couldn’t be scrapped from history, an empire that lived upto its name – Vijaynagar.

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Hampi, a tourist village now was once a thriving capital of the mighty Vijaynagar Kingdom. The imperium which lasted for more than two centuries, was founded on this strategic location guarded by the rocky terrain and hillocks on one side and the might Tungabhadra river on the other. The last non-islamic superpower, reaching its acme under the great ruler Krishna Devaraya, had to be literally colluded to dismantle, leaving behind an architectural history that left the Portuguese and the English gaping at. Vijaynagar had always been alluring and enigmatic to me. And thus, my excitement knew no bound, when I got an invitation to visit this UNESCO World Heritage site. Continue reading