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Imogiri is a royal graveyard located on the top of Imogiri Hill, almost 12 kilometers (7.46 miles) away from the Indonesian city of Yogyakarta. It was considered a burial place for the royal families in central Java before being converted into a cemetery. The families were the members of Mataram, Surakarta, and Yogyakarta Sultanates.
The graveyard was constructed during the 1640s by Sultan Agung of Mataram, and his body was the first to be buried in the highest shrine of the complex. The compound consists of three sections; the top section called Prabayasa, the middle section called Kemangdhungan, and other parts of the yard called Srimanganti
Although Sultan Agung of Mataram was a Muslim, the architecture of the cemetery has a lot of Hindu and Buddhist symbols and the graves were built in Hindu style.
After crossing the split gate (candi bentar) that lies at the top of the stairs, photography is officially prohibited. To visit Imogiri you should be prepared to walk up 200 meters (655 feet) long stairs with around 450 steps. It’s advisable to use the left and right handrails to prevent failing down while walking up.
The traveler should wear the traditional Javanese costumes while visiting Imogiri complex, and these clothes can be rented in gate of the cemetery for a modest fare. These clothes are available for both genders, and there are helpers to aid you in dressing them in the right Javanese way. The men must wear a traditional Javanese Jacket with a Sarong, which is a combination of a batik shirt with trousers and a teluk beskap.
All the women must wear Kemben, even those who put scarfs on while entering the complex. The Kemben is a Javanese long waist band for woman with exposing shoulders and arms. A tradition shawl (selendang) will be given to the Muslim women if they are wearing scarves to hide their head, shoulders and arms.
There are no admission fees to get into the complex, although you can voluntary donate in the boxes at the beginning of the stairs. The grave complex is opened for public every Sunday, Monday and Friday, except during the month of Ramadan (the fasting month of Muslims) when it is totally closed.
Massive amounts of visitors come from all over Indonesia and other countries to the cemetery in the first day of the Eid celebration ( an Islamic Feast), and also in the Suro month of the Javanese calendar (which corresponds with the Islamic month of Muharram). It is worth it to mention that the Imogiri name is diverted from the Sanskrit name of Himagiri, which means “The Mountain of snow.”
Finally, in order to reach to the Imogiri compound, tourists can use the Transjogja bus rapid transit from Yogyakarta downtown to the closest stop to Imogiri, and then walk less than 50 meters to get into the main gate. The other option is to take a direct taxi from your origin for a higher fare.
Image Courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/sbamueller/