Kraton Ratu Boko history
Kraton Ratu Boku was build during the reign of a descendant of the Sailendra dynasty – one of the most powerful kingdoms on ancient Java. Exactly when the Ratu Boko was built is difficult to say, as the ancient Javanese didn’t write any formal documentation.
However, inscriptions mention Ratu Boko being occupied as early as in the 8th century. The exact purpose of Ratu Boko is also hard to say. Some different theories have evolved, the most recognized one being that Ratu Boko was in fact a fortified monastery.
Inscriptions and symbols
Inscriptions tell us that the palace initially was named “Abhayagiri Vihara” – which literally means “monastery on a peaceful hill”. This supports the theory that it was built for seclusion purpose and focused on spiritual life.
Throughout Ratu Boko, visitors can find both Hindu and Buddhist symbols. These show, just like many other temple sites in the area show, that the two religions lived side by side in peace on ancient Java.
The site has gotten its name from the legendary king Boko, one of the main characters in the famous folklore called “Loro Jonggrang”. This folklore connects the Ratu Boko Palace, the Durga statue in Prambanan temple with the Sewu temple.
The legend tells the story about two ancient and neighboring kingdoms in Java, Pengging and Boko. The two kingdoms raged war against each other and after a series of devastating battles, Pengging came out victorious. In the last battle, the Pengging Prince, filled with supernatural powers, defeated the enemy king. After his victory, the Prince requested a marriage between himself and the dead king’s daughter, whose beauty was unmatched.
To get the full story of “Loro Jonggrang”, check out Sewu temple.
Why visit Kraton Ratu Boko ?
The vast Kraton Ratu Boko, also known as Ratu Boko’s Palace, is different compared to many other heritage sites around Java. While the majority of the heritage sites are temples or shrines, this place is more like a ruin than anything else.
Due to its ruinous condition, it can be hard to make any sense of the place and many tourists reject Ratu Boko for this reason.
However, Ratu Boko has a very special history and charm connected to it, so don’t let its ruinous looks fool you.
Ratu Boko structures
Ratu Boko is built on a high plateau, divided into several terraces. While many of the original buildings is believed to have been constructed in wood, and thus no longer present, Ratu Boko still have several interesting buildings.
The most obvious building is the beautiful main gate.
By looking closely at the first of the two gates, visitors can read an inscription; “Panabwara”. This word was inscribed by one of the leaders of the time with the intention of legitimating his authority as well as to give ‘power’ to the gate.
Close to the main gate stands a temple made of white stones, known as Candi Badu Putih, which means the Temple of White Stones. Another temple located nearby is the Combustion temple. The function of this two leveled square temple was, as the name suggests, to burn dead bodies.
By doing some exploration of Ratu Boko, visitors can also find several smaller temples, meditation caves as well as ponds made for bathing. One particular pool within the bathing place is considered sacred by Hindu people and is called ‘Amerta Mantana’. It is believed that the water of Amerta brings luck for anyone who uses it. Hindu people still use it to this very day during the Tawur Agung ceremony. This is a purification ceremony which takes place one day before “Nyepi”: the Hindu New Year.
Due to its location on a plateau, many spots of in Kraton Ratu Boku will provide a great panoramic view of Prambanan with Mount Merapi in the background. Many say that the great thing about Ratu Boko is that it’s such a calm and peaceful place. Somehow the spirit of the old monastery still surrounds this beautiful place.
Kraton Ratu Boko location
Kraton Ratu Boko is located on a plateau, south of Prambanan in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. In order to get to Kraton Ratu Boko, take the minor road from Prambanan towards Piyungan and one will find the remains of this palace to the left after about three kilometers.
For the exact location of Kraton Ratu Boku, check out the location Map to the right.