The Most Popular Landmark in Yogyakarta
Updated on 1/26/2015
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Tugu Jogja is the most popular landmark of Yogyakarta. This monument is located right in the center of the crossroad between the Mangkubumi, Soedirman, A.M. Sangaji and Diponegoro roads. The Tugu Jogja that is almost 3 centuries old has a very deep meaning and it keeps some history records of Yogyakarta.
Tugu Jogja was built around one year after the construction of Yogyakarta Kingdom. At the early time of its construction, it clearly described the philosophy of the unity of God's creatures that means the spirit of togetherness of lay people and authorities to fight colonials. In Javanese term, the spirit of togetherness is called golong gilig that is clearly described in the construction of the monument: the pole is of gilig (cylinder) form and the top part is golong (rounded). This monument was known as Tugu Golong-Gilig.
In details, the monument was originally constructed in the form of a cylindrical pole with conical form upwards. The base is an encircling fence while the top is rounded. The preliminary height of the monument was 25 meters.
Everything changed when on Monday, 10 June 1867, a big earthquake in Yogyakarta ruined the monument. The collapse of the monument was the transition time when the unity was not really reflected on the monument.
The situation changed totally when in 1889 the Dutch government renovated the monument. The monument was constructed as a square with each side being decorated with a kind of inscription containing the names of people who were involved in the renovation. The top portion is no longer rounded but a pointed cone. The height of the monument is also lower, namely 15 meters. Since then, this monument was also called as De Witt Paal or Tugu Pal Putih (white pole monument).
The renovation of the monument was actually the tactic used by the Dutch colonial to erase the philosophy of togetherness between lay people and the king. Learning from the result of the struggle afterwards, however, the effort did not seem to be successful.
If we want to look at the monument satisfactorily while remembering its philosophical meaning, there are benches facing the monument on the corner of Mangkubumi Street. At 05:00 a.m. - 06:00 a.m. is the right time since the air is still fresh and not much passerby yet. Occasionally, the newspaper boy will greet us politely while riding his bicycle to go to the distribution office of the biggest local newspaper, the Kedaulatan Rakyat.
Being so identical of the Tugu Jogja to Yogyakarta makes many university students from outside of Yogyakarta to express their happiness after the graduation day by hugging and kissing the Tugu Jogja. That may also express their love to Yogyakarta that they will about to leave soon and at the same time say their promise to return to this city.
Text: Yunanto Wiji Utomo
Photo & Artistic: Agung Sulistiono Mabruron
English Translation: Emanuel, Downhill English Services
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