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Oh how I would love to travel back 250 years in time and visit Taman Sari in it’s heyday. What a glorious place it must have been with its palaces, waterways, pools and pleasure rooms, not least it’s18 water gardens, pavilions and lakes.

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This once vast water and garden complex covering several acres, was built between 1758-65 for the Sultanate of Yogyakarta to entertain his female entourage and ogle the young women as they bathed in the pools.

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As he watched lasciviously from his tower, selecting ‘wives’ for his carnal pleasures later, his long-suffering Queen swam in her own private pool at the back. Rumour has it that the Portuguese architect who designed the buildings was executed shortly after the project was completed so as to keep hidden the secret of where the pleasures rooms where from his wife and the rest of his court.

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Sadly, the Sultan’s pleasure gardens took rather a bashing during Java’s Diponegoro’s war (1825-1830) and then what little remained was further damaged by an earthquake in 1865.

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Today, despite there being little left of the original complex, thanks to a major restoration project, the central courtyard is back to it’s original state and the pools are as inviting as ever. As I walked round I couldn’t help but wonder what it must have been like on those sultry evenings all those years ago. The warm evening air thickly scented with the fragrance of frangipani and jasmine, the red-blooded Sultan in his tower spying on the young lovelies, turtle doves cooing in the trees, and the sound of splashing water and shy giggles as each girl wondered if she would be honoured by being chosen to pleasure the Sultan. As for the Queen, as far as I can gather she was forbidden from taking lovers so I guess she must have sloped of home and had to make do with a cup of cocoa and an early night.

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19 Comments

  1. Great imagery here, Lottie — I love the sensory detail. For some reason I keep envisioning Yul Brynner as the sultan. At any rate, thanks for transforming me to the Indonesian Playboy Mansion! xxxx

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    1. Glad you liked it Steph!! Playboy mansion indeed! I’m kicking myself now over the title – a friend on Facebook suggested I should have called it ‘Sultan of Swing’ after the Dire Straits song – so much better!
      Hope all good in your world and let’s catch up soon xxxx

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      1. “Sultan of Swing” has a good ring (pardon the cheesy rhyme) but I’m a sucker for alliteration so I really like like the idea of the Saucy Sultan who hangs out with his Bathing Beauties at the Palace of Pleasure! Yes, we need to catch up soon. I’m pretty hopeless on Twitter so I’ll send you an e-mail or FB message soon!

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    1. It was wonderful – It was one of the most lovely places that I’ve visited in Indonesia. Tomorrow or the next day watch out for my posts on Borobudour and the Kraton – they were fabulous too. Jogyakarta is heaven, right up my street – oh how I wish we could live there!

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    2. A very cool place indeed – It’s a shame that the good folk of Yogya can’t use the pools – they’d make a terrific venue for a party or a wedding – or even as public baths.

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  2. Yes, those Sultans had a thing or two going for them. The poor queen in the back room counting all her money. Rumour has it that while the Sultan was being pleasured by voluptuous maidens around the pool area, the Queen invited very fit good looking becak drivers for a bit of fun as well. At least, that’s what we were told some years ago by a becak driver. Perhaps he was just fantasizing!
    Nice photos and well told Lottie.!

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  3. Oh what sordid webs those hot blooded sultans wove Who wrote that money can’t buy love or does it go money can’t buy you happiness? Either way, those people went to great lenghts to protect their “pleasures” but killing the builder? That was really over the top. Ruthless to say the least. Great photos Lottie and the narratives for them as well.

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    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it Yvonne and thank you. I think there are many stories about Taman Sari and a lot of old wives tales. It’s a beautiful place to visit today but it must have been quite an enchanting place all those years ago with the water gardens, lakes and pavilions. I had to visit it alone as Irishman was busy but I’ll take him there next time we visit Yogya as he has to see it!

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  4. I love Jogja. I went to the water castle on my first day in Indonesia and got hopelessly lost. I hope you got to pop into Monggo for some chocolate while in Jogja and Mirota batik on Jalan Malioboro.

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    1. Jogja is a treat isn’t it? Such a refreshing change from Jakarta. I’d love to live there. And yes! I did sniff out the Monggo factory and shop and bought some heavenly dark chocolate with crystallised ginger – didn’t visit Jalan Malioboro and I kept away from the batik only because I already have so much of it that our apartment is starting to look like Pasar Mayestik!

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    1. Thanks, you’ve just made me snort coffee through my nose.
      3 words to you Mr A- I shan’t spell them out for fear of causing offence to the Royals, but one begins with D the second begins with Y and the third begins with M!

      and I put Y instead of O for the second because you are Y and not O yet

      Cryptic or wot?!

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