Taman Sari is a site of a former royal garden in Yogyakarta that once consisted of four distinct areas: a large artificial lake with islands and pavilions located in the west, a bathing complex in the centre, a complex of pavilions and pools in the south, and a smaller lake in the east. Today only the central bathing complex is well preserved, while the other areas have been largely occupied by the Kampung Taman residential settlement. This is a huge blow to tourism and it seems the authorities have given up trying to keep it looking its best.
The name Taman Sari comes from the Javanese words “taman”, meaning “garden” and “sari”, which means “beautiful”. Hence, the name Taman Sari means an area of a beautiful garden adorned with flowers. The reality is much different, however. In contrast to much of Yogyakarta regency, Taman Sari is just an eyesore that masquerades itself as an important tourist attraction.
Taman Sari can be divided into four areas. The first area is the artificial lake Segaran located in the west. The second area is a bathing complex in the south of the Segaran lake, called the Umbul Binangun bathing complex. The third area, now completely gone, is the Pasarean Ledok Sari and Garjitawati Pool, located in the south of the bathing complex. The fourth area is the east side of the first and second area, which extend far to the east and to the southeast complex of Magangan. Some of these areas are preserved to a good extent, but others (such as some of the bathing pools formerly used for Royalty) have been left to fall into a state of disrepair.
Today, the area around the Taman Sari castle complex is occupied by a residential settlement called Kampung Taman. Nearly 3000 people live here and the residents of the community are perhaps best known for their batik and traditional painting craft traditions. Also located in this area is Pasar Ngasem, which claims to be the biggest bird market in Yogyakarta. As long as you don’t mind birds, then this may be something a little different to check out when you’ve left the disappointment of crumbling Taman Sari.