Gua Siluman(updated on 5/13/2014)
The Cave of The Invisible
Wonocatur, Banguntapan, Bantul, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Not many people know Pesanggrahan Gua Siluman. We understand it because this building that was built by Hamengku Buwono II was not as popular as the Tamansari Water Castle. Nonetheless, behind is unpopularity, this pesanggrahan was once served an important function for the family of Yogyakarta kingdom, as the place for meditation. Together with pesanggrahan Warungboto, this place was mentioned in one of traditional Javanese songs telling about the success achieved during the governance of Hamengku Buwono II in Yogyakarta.
Pesanggrahan Gua Siluman is located in the area of Wonocatur, Sleman Regency, on the side of a road connecting the East Ring Road and Berbah area of Bantul Regency. We can visit this location through Jalan Raya Janti until the crossroad of Block O, and then we turn right. When we get to a sign plank directing to Berbah, we turn left. This pesanggrahan is located precisely on the roadside, with high wall as thick as 75 cm of which color is blackening as the sign of its existence.
The area of the pesanggrahan encompasses the left and right sides of the road. This might be astonishing, but that is the truth. Is there any part of the building that is cut off with existence of the road? In fact, there is not! YogYES made sure by examining part of the building on the left side of the road as the entrance gate to this building. This gate is adjacent to a tunnel connecting to the other building across the road. This means that the tunnel is beneath the main road leading to Berbah.
On the gate, we saw relief of Beri bird. Its unique shape is still visible even though some parts of it have damaged. At the lower part of the gate, there are some staircases connecting the outer part of the building to the tunnel. If we go further, we will see one door with an arch shape of the upper part that might function as sign of entering the tunnel.
Actually, YogYES intended to explore the tunnel but ended up with crossing the road. Then, we got down to the building on the right side of the road and found a square door. The door is connecting with the tunnel connecting the right and left sides of the road. Unlike the north door that is decorated with relief of Beri bird, this door on the southern part is simple, without any decoration.
Through this door in the south, YogYES could see parts of the other pesanggrahan. There is a building stretching eastwards, directly connects to the tunnel. The building is divided into some rooms each of which is connected by one door. Close to the door connecting to the farthest east room, there is a divider ornamented with beautiful batik-like motifs. While in the farthest east room, a square pond is still filled with full water until present.
Just like many other pesanggrahans in the early time of Yogyakarta kingdom, Gua Siluman also has garden and pond. Today, the garden area is plated with various plants so that it looks green. Those decorative plants grow in both sides of the two square ponds that are also parts of the pesanggrahan building. The base and sides of the ponds were actually cemented well but unfortunately we cannot see those parts because of the unclear water.
Walking to the southwest side, there is another pond in the shape of a circle. The pond is decorated with the statue of Beri bird with its protruding beak. The shape is unique, particularly that the beak also functions as a water fountain. Similar pond is actually found in the southeast side, but the statue has been damaged and the pond starts to sink in the earth.
Until today, no one knows exactly what other activities done by the members of the kingdom family other than meditation in Pesanggrahan Gua Siluman, including whosoever meditated in this place. Other thing still becomes the mystery is the building itself. The traditional Javanese song containing the history of the construction of this building tells that the name of the building is Gua Seluman, but the signboard in the complex of the building writes its name as Gua Siluman. Apakah Do Seluman and Siluman mean the same?
In the past, many people considered this building eerie so that not any people dared to get into it. Now, the belief disappears and many people even use this area to have a chat. Thus, you can visit one of the historical sites without feeling scared.
Text: Yunanto Wiji Utomo
Photo & Artistic: Agung Sulistiono Mabruron
English Translation: Emanuel, Downhill English Services
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