A Piece of Ramayana Epic Left in a Cave
Jatimulyo, Girimulya, Kulon Progo, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Updated on 4/30/2015
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Our eyes were instantly stunned by the view of reliefs carved on the rock cliffs around the cave entrance. The reliefs seemed even more real as they are enormous and kept in good condition. Each fragment of the carvings threw my memory to the story of Ramayana, the most legendary epic in the world that tells the fight between Rama and Rahwana in claiming over Dewi Shinta.
Still, not many have known that the alliance between Rama and the monkey kingdom actually rooted from another intense battle where Mahesasuro and Lembusuro fought against Subali, the half-monkey-half-human man. It is at the cave that we could trace the ancient folklore. Unlike other caves that offer beauty in particular, Kiskendo Cave offers two things at once-beauty and a story.
Stepping inside, we will be greeted by tens of spiderwebs sticking around the entrance. On the terrace of the cave, tree roots are twisting with each others. The fierce sun started to show less spirit as we descended to the cold stairs. The farther we stepped in, the darker it got, until the lights from our headlamps eventually became the only guide. The whole length of the track has been paved, so that you wouldn't have to be a professional caver to explore through. Still, the water drops falling from the stalactites creating small holes and the cold air have contributed in making this exploration one that got our hearts beating faster.
The cave was quiet; there were only the two of us accompanied by a guide who led us through while telling stories about each corridor we found, which were believed to be the palace where two brothers lived-one with the head of a buffalo and the other a cow-as well as the exact place where they fought against Subali. I instantly imagined how the fight was like, how Sugriwa might have nervously waited while his brother Subali fought against Mahesasuro and Lembusuro inside the cave. When seeing a large hole above my head, I felt like I was witnessing how Subali caught himself in panic, trapped inside the cave as the only entrance was sealed by a large stone, forcing him to break through the ceiling of the cave to get out.
The cave has a total of 9 hermitage sites namely Tledek, Kusuman, Padasan, Santri Tani, Semelong, Lumbung Kampek, Selumbung, Seterbang, and Sekandang. There is also a large clay water jug at the center of the cave, near a room that resembles a small hall. The water jug receives drops of water falling from the above stalactites. We may drink the water to ease our thirst after exploring through the corridors of approximately 1 km length.
Exploring through Kiskendo Cave is to me like watching a theater performance with the arts of a masterpiece. The reliefs beautifully carved on the walls seem like a prose for a narrator to read with charming voice. The vision ahead of us started to lighten up; the sun was visibly bright again. The performance has ended.
Text KEN SAVITRIE Photography DANIEL ANTONIUS KRISTANTO
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