The Jakarta Post - WEEKENDER | Tue, 03/24/2009 4:43 PM |
Back to visit her in-laws’ hometown of Surakarta after two years, Stelly Leks sees positive changes taking place around the city, particularly along the its main street of Slamet Riyadi.
Surakarta, popularly known as Solo, is busy tidying itself up under Mayor Joko Widodo’s leadership. The city looks much cleaner today, even though there is a hive of activity with construction of star-rated hotels, luxurious apartments and shopping centers – each with a signboard written in Javanese script. On the south side of the city’s main avenue Slamet Riyadi is now a spacious pedestrian-friendly public space named “Solo City Walk”, designed to serve as Solo’s center of tourism, cultural and culinary activities.
The corridor of Jl. Slamet Riyadi has many interesting tourist attractions within easy reach, from existing heritage buildings, the Surakarta palace, traditional market, batik center and recreation park to museums and modern shopping centers. One of its unique features here is the presence of a tramline just next to the road, which is still in daily operation today. This year the mayor is planning to run old locomotives of the Ambarawa Rail Museum carrying tourists on a sightseeing ride through the city walk. What attractions are currently on offer to tourists along the city center?
CULTURAL & HISTORICAL INTEREST – HOUSE OF DANAR HADI
The House of Danar Hadi, which spans 1.5 hectares, was opened by Culture and Tourism Minister Jero Wacik on August 22 last year. The complex offers visitors a one-stop batik adventure: an antique batik museum, a traditional batik workshop, a batik showroom and a function room for hosting special events and gatherings.
Antique Batik Museum
Recognized as having one of the most comprehensive private collections of batik in Indonesia (its collection amounts to 10,000 batik items), this expansive museum showcases antique batik dating back to the Dutch and Japanese occupation era through to a few decades after Indonesia’s independence. The first thing you’ll notice upon entering the room is the distinct aroma of the air freshener made following traditional recipes and using natural ingredients. Pictures are not allowed in the museum but you are guaranteed not to get bored if you meet a professional museum tour guide such as Asti Suryo Astuti. Although the ancient batik collections are displayed openly, hanging over wooden display racks, she warns visitors not to touch the collections as the acids and salts coating human hands may damage the textiles. The collections follow the journey of brilliant colors and distinguished motifs of batik fabrics as developed in the book Batik, An Impact of Changing Eras and Environments by Santosa Doellah, the founder of Danar Hadi. The materials and tools used in each stage of batik-making process are also displayed here.
Traditional Batik Workshop
In the back of the museum, visitors can personally observe the female batik artisans applying motifs onto the cotton or silk fabric with canting tools to create handmade batik, while the male artisans stamp repeated designs onto the cloth with copper caps to create printed batik. Also on display is the traditional dyeing process.
After viewing the entire process of batik making, visitors can browse through the showroom within the museum compound offering souvenirs and high-quality items from the workshop.
nDalem Wuryaningratan and Sasana Mangunsuka
The cultural heritage of nDalem Wuryaningratan was once the home of the Javanese nobility in Surakarta, designed by a Dutch architect in 1890. This classic building has been meticulously restored to its original splendor and now serves as a unique venue for special events, together with Sasana Mangunsuka, a new beautiful building adjacent to the main palace.
ANTIQUE SHOPPING – TRIWINDU ANTIQUE MARKET
As the original Triwindu market located on Jl. Diponegoro between Jl. Slamet Riyadi and Mangkunegaran Palace is being revitalized (scheduled to open midyear), the merchants are now temporarily gathered in the area of Sriwedari Park. Once inside, your eyes will be spoiled by the extent and range of antiques and memorabilia laid out simply along the kiosks. Choose whatever antiques you are seeking from various sculptures, Buddhist statues, lanterns, ancient coins and jewelry without the merchants hassling you. Be aware of the age of each “antique”, though, because some of the items here are imitations, despite vendors’ claims that their goods date back hundreds of years.
CULINARY OFFERING – GLADAG LANGEN BOGAN
A visit to Surakarta would not be complete without savoring the specialty dishes of the city. Here, every evening at 6 p.m., the 200-meter-long Jl. Mayor Sunaryo, a passage off the main avenue Slamet Riyadi, is closed to cars and motorcycles. Opened to the public in April 2008, Gladag Langen Bogan (Galabo) gathers local food hawkers on one street so tourists need not bother searching all different corners of the city looking for special food and drinks. Local dishes such as satay, gudeg ceker (jackfruit curry with chicken feet), nasi liwet (rice boiled in coconut milk), thengkleng (goat on the bone cooked with curry), and wedang ronde (hot ginger drink with peanuts and rice-flour balls) are available at a reasonable price. Galabo gets more crowded later at night. Don’t worry if you miss out on a chair, as you can ask for straw mats from the food vendors and sit lesehan style overlooking the crowd. On Saturday night, street musicians give live performances.