Ratu Boko: Grandeur on a Hill Full of Tranquility That Mesmerizes

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Ratu Boko Site or Raja Baka Palace is an ancient site that consists of remnants of various structures located approximately 3 km south of the Prambanan Temple complex, 18 km east of Yogyakarta City, or 50 km southwest of Surakarta City, Central Java.

It is more precisely situated in Bokoharjo village, Prambanan district, Sleman regency, Yogyakarta Special Region. The Ratu Boko Site is situated on a hill at an elevation of 196 meters above sea level, covering an overall area of about 25 hectares.

This site exhibits features of a place for various activities, possibly a residential and royal dwelling site. Ratu Boko is estimated to have been in use since the 8th century during the Sailendra Dynasty (Rakai Panangkaran) of the Medang Kingdom (Mataram Hindu period).

The layout of the remaining structures strongly suggests that the site was a former royal palace rather than a religious temple, as it includes evidence of fortress walls and dry moats as defense structures. Remnants of a settlement for the local population have also been discovered around the site.

The name “Ratu Boko” originates from the local legend. Ratu Boko (Javanese, literally meaning “king stork”) is the father of Loro Jonggrang, which is also the name of the main temple in the Prambanan Temple complex. This complex of buildings is associated with the local legend of Roro Jonggrang.

Read More: Discovering Prambanan 2023: Opening Hours, Admission, and Legend

History

Ratu Boko is located approximately 3 km south of Prambanan Temple. The Ratu Boko area is situated on a hill at an altitude of about 195.97 m above sea level.

Ratu Boko Site is not actually a temple but the ruins of a kingdom. Therefore, Ratu Boko Temple is often referred to as the Ratu Boko Palace. It’s called Kraton Boko because, according to legend, the site was the palace of Ratu Boko, the father of Lara Jonggrang.

It is estimated that the Ratu Boko site was built in the 8th century by the Sailendra Dynasty, which followed Buddhism, but later taken over by Hindu Mataram kings. This transition of ‘ownership’ influenced the Kraton Boko buildings with both Hinduism and Buddhism.

A 792 AD inscription called the Abhayagiriwihara Inscription was found at the Ratu Boko site. The content of this inscription supports the assumption that the Ratu Boko Palace was built by Rakai Panangkaran.

The Abhayagiriwihara Inscription was written in the Pranagari script, one of the characteristics of Buddhist inscriptions. The inscription mentions that King Tejapurnama Panangkarana, believed to be Rakai Panangkaran, ordered the construction of Abhayagiriwihara.

The same name is also mentioned in the Kalasan Inscription (779 AD), Mantyasih Inscription (907 AD), and Wanua Tengah III Inscription (908 AD). According to experts, the word “abhaya” means without fear or peace, and “giri” means mountain or hill.

Thus, Abhayagiriwihara means a monastery built on a peaceful hill. During the rule of Rakai Walaing Pu Kombayoni, between 898-908, Abhayagiri Wihara was renamed Kraton Walaing.

The Ratu Boko Palace, which occupies a spacious land, consists of several groups of buildings. Most of them are now just ruins.

Read More:Kalasan Temple: Unveiling the Oldest Buddhist Heritage in Yogyakarta

Ratu Boko Architecture

Unlike other ancient relics from the era of Ancient Java, which are mostly religious structures, the Ratu Boko site is a secular complex, complete with entrance gates, pavilions, residences, bathing pools, and protective walls.

In contrast to other Javanese palaces, which are usually built in relatively flat areas, the Ratu Boko site is located on a rather high hill.

This makes the construction of this complex relatively more challenging in terms of labor and building materials. Unless, of course, the main building material, namely stone, is extracted from the hill itself. This naturally requires skilled workers to transform the rocky hill into blocks that can be used as construction material.

The elevated position also necessitates the presence of springs and a water management system to meet daily needs. The bathing pool is a remnant of this water management system, while the rest poses a challenge for archaeologists to reconstruct.

Being situated on a hill also provides cool air and beautiful natural scenery for its inhabitants, besides making the complex more difficult to attack by enemies.

Another special feature of this site is the area to the left of the gate, now commonly referred to as the “cremation place.” Given its size and position, it undoubtedly served as a space to showcase something or an activity.

The name “cremation place” implies the necessity of regular cremation activities at this site, which requires further investigation. It might be worth considering exploring this area as some kind of altar or a place for offerings.

Ratu Boko as World Heritage Site

The central government has now included the Ratu Boko Site complex in a special authority, along with the management of Borobudur Temple and Prambanan Temple under a state-owned enterprise called PT Taman Wisata Candi, after both of these temples were listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

As a consequence, the Ratu Boko Site has been redesigned in several areas to serve as an educational and cultural activity space.

Additional structures in front of the gate include a restaurant and an open space (Plaza Andrawina) that can be used for gatherings with a capacity of around 500 people, providing a vista towards the north (Prambanan Subdistrict and Mount Merapi).

Moreover, the management offers camping facilities, trekking, educational archaeology packages, and tour guides.

Entrance Fees

The entrance fee for local tourists per person for one-time entry.

  • Upper at age 10: Rp  40.000
  • Age 3 to 10 years: Rp 20.000

Special rates for domestic tourists for student groups and university students per group for each entry* (with a letter of recommendation from the school/university).

  • Minimum 20 people

Ratu Boko Entrance Fee: Rp 20,000

How to Get There?

The nearest major city to Ratu Boko is Yogyakarta. The Adisutjipto International Airport is a popular choice for international tourists visiting Ratu Boko through Yogyakarta.

The access to Ratu Boko is facilitated by its proximity to Prambanan, making it convenient for those using public transportation from Yogyakarta.

  • For Yogyakarta Railway Station

From Tugu Railway Station, you can hop on Transjogja bus route 1A from Mangkubumi 1 bus stop. Get off at Prambanan Market bus stop and then proceed to Ratu Boko by using an ojek or taxi.

  • From Adisutjipto Airport

From Adisutjipto Airport, you can take Transjogja bus route 1A to Prambanan Market bus stop. From there, continue using an ojek or taxi to reach Ratu Boko.

  • Personal Vehicle

Ratu Boko can be accessed via Laksda Adisutjipto Street and the Solo – Yogya main road towards the east. At the Prambanan Market intersection, turn right (southward) towards Prambanan – Piyungan Street. Around 3 km from the intersection, there will be signs directing you to Kraton Ratu Boko on the left hillside.

Let’s Explore Java!

Embark on an unforgettable journey to Java, Indonesia, where a world of wonders awaits! Java, the heart and soul of Indonesia, is a treasure trove of diverse landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and breathtaking experiences.

Find out the package now from Yogyakarta Tours:

  • 1 Day Tours:

Borobudur Sunrise

Prambanan Ramayana Ballet

Timang Beach

and more…

  • Multiday Tours

10 Days Tour in Java Island

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Author: Pramitha Chandra

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