Location: Jalan Brigjend AR Dharsono, Kelurahan Sunyaragi, Kec. Kesambi, Cirebon City 45132
Map: Click Here
HTM: IDR 10,000-IDR 20,000 per person
Open and close: 08.00 – 17.30 WIB
When I. M. Pei presenting Pyramide du Louvre which has now become landmark Paris, many people are amazed.
Likewise when Cesar Pelli designed the Petronas Twin Towers in Malaysia and Tom Wright designing the Burj Al Arab in Dubai, all eyes were stunned by the uniqueness of these buildings.
But, did you know that in the 17th century there was a building that could be called the mecca of modern architecture at that time.
The building’s name is Sunyaragi Cave, it is located in the city of Cirebon, West Java province.
This cave complex presents architectural art with a high taste in medieval times, because it successfully combines several architectural styles, namely Classical Indonesia, Middle East, Old Chinese and renaissance Europe.
The harmonious combination of architectural styles is wrapped in local cultural understandings and philosophies.
So that not only the beauty side that can be enjoyed from this heritage building of the Kingdom of Cirebon but also lessons about life.
Besides having a unique and interesting shape, the cave complex which occupies an area of 15 hectares is also shrouded in a mystical atmosphere.
Because in the past this complex was used as a place for meditation and kanuragan practice by the Sultans and soldiers of the Kingdom of Cirebon.
In addition, Sunyaragi Cave is also full of historical values because it was used as a place to organize war strategies against the Dutch colonialists.
That is why, if you have the opportunity to visit Cirebon City, take your time to enjoy the beauty and uniqueness of Sunyaragi Cave.
A brief History
Recording the history and origin of the establishment of this unique artificial cave, as the description is written on Wikipedia, has two versions.
The first comes from a hereditary story conveyed by Cirebon nobles called the Carub Kanda version.
According to Carub Kandha, Sunyaragi Cave is Taman Sari which was built to replace Pesanggrahan Giri Nur Sapta Rengga which functioned as a tomb area for the kings of Cirebon and is now called Astana Gunung Jati.
The second version is called the Caruban Nagari version because it is taken from the Purwaka Caruban Nagari Book which was handwritten by Pangeran Arya Carbon or Pangeran Kararangen in 1720.
In the book, it is explained that the construction of the Sunyaragi Cave was carried out in 1703 AD, namely during the reign of Prince Kararangen who was the great-grandson of Sunan Gunung Jati.
Because this second version refers to a book from the past that can be more accountable for its truth, the tour guides prefer the second version to be used as a reference.
Until now it is not certain what the original form of the Sunyaragi Cave was, because it didn’t exist blueprint aka a blueprint image that can be used as a guide when doing renovations, while renovations have been carried out repeatedly.
The first repair was carried out by Sultan Adiwijaya in 1852, after in 1787 the Tamansari was destroyed by the Dutch because it was used as a fortress.
Renovations for the first time were led by a Chinese architect named Tan Sam Cay, who was eventually killed for leaking the cave’s secrets to the Dutch.
The next restoration that was carried out was the Dutch colonial government in 1937-1938, where all implementation was handed over to Krisjman, an officer of the Semarang Cultural Service at that time.
During the restoration, Krisjman changed some of the original shapes of the cave in order not to endanger the building as a whole.
The changes made have indeed strengthened the condition of the building, but on the other hand, it has made the condition of the building even further away from the condition when it was first built.
During 1976-1984, the Directorate of Protection and Development of History and Antiquities also carried out restoration which was followed up with a series of observation and maintenance activities on the Sunyaragi complex.
In 1997, the government handed over the management of the cave to Kasepuhan Palace holders.
Due to the lack of maintenance costs, Sunyaragi neglected for several years before finally being revitalized by the West Java Provincial Government in 2014 which spent a budget of Rp. 2.46 billion.
In addition to renovating certain parts of the Sunyaragi Cave complex, this revitalization also adds several facilities.
Some of the additional facilities, such as the construction of a large parking area and giving a new touch to the front of the tourist attraction, are the construction of a Cultural Stage for Cirebon Arts performances.
Getting to Know at a Glance
Sunyaragi Cave which has an address at JL. Brigjend AR Dharsono, Sunyaragi Subdistrict, Kesambi District, Cirebon, West Java occupies an area of 15 hectares with a location in the city center.
That is why the route to get to the location is very easy, just by taking a pedicab for about 20 minutes when getting off at Prujakan and Kejaksan Stations or about 10 minutes if getting off at Cirebon Bus Terminal.
To be able to enjoy the uniqueness of this historical site, tourists can visit the location at 08.00 – 17.30 by paying an entrance ticket price of IDR 10,000.
The HTM does not include parking fees for motorbikes of Rp. 2,000 and for cars of around Rp. 5,000.
If you want to use the services of a tour guide to find out about the story, the lineage of the king of Cirebon as well as various information such as legends, myths and mysteries about the cave, visitors have to pay another Rp. 40,000 – Rp. 50,000.
Judging from the history of the existence of the Sunyaragi Cave, the function of this cave complex has always changed from time to time, according to the will of the rulers of that era.
It’s just that it needs to be underlined, the purpose of the construction of this cave complex is to be used as a Tamansari as well as a place for palace officials and soldiers to meditate and perform by kanuragan.
This can be seen from the name of the cave complex, namely “Sunyaragi” which comes from two words: “Sunya” and “Ragi” which means “lonely” and “Raga”.
So the meaning of “Sunyaragi” is a place for rest and meditation. That is why until now the atmosphere in the cave complex still seems sacred and mystical.
Visiting Sunyaragi Cave, apart from being able to enjoy its beauty and uniqueness, also to feel the mystical atmosphere that emanates from the 12 parts of the cave complex.
The twelve sections are: Jinem Ward, Mande Packaging Complex, and ten caves, namely Guard Cave, Pandekamasang, Simanyang, Tangse, Peteng, Arga Jumud, Padang Ati, Kelanggengan, Goa Lawa and Goa Pawon.
Enjoy the Uniqueness
Entering the Sunyaragi Cave complex, anyone will be immediately stunned by the extraordinary architectural design and very character, far beyond its era.
Even today’s creations are not necessarily able to match the features of this building.
It is not wrong if many say that entering this tourist complex is like entering a fairy tale because almost all parts of the cave are built from piles of rocks.
That is why, once you enter the Sunyaragi Cave complex, prepare a camera to record every corner of the location, both in the form of photos and video images.
The beauty and uniqueness of the existing buildings in this tourist spot, because it combines various architectural styles, ranging from Hindu or Classical Indonesian, Islamic or Middle Eastern, ancient Chinese and European styles.
Hindu or classical Indonesian architectural styles can be found in 3 joglo buildings, namely the Pesanggrahan Building, Mande Beling and Bale Kambang.
While the form of a gate and several statues on site, namely an elephant and a snake statue wrapped around a statue of a man with the head of an eagle.
All of the building ornaments here, although it is a cultural syncretism from all corners of the world, all of them are influenced by the classical Indonesian architectural style.
Various flower-shaped carvings, such as lotus, sunflower and peach blossom, show the influence of the ancient Chinese style.
In fact, it is said that the exterior of this cave complex was once decorated with Chinese ceramic ornaments that had long been lost so it is not certain what the features were.
Chinese influence can also be seen from the existence of Chinese cemeteries which are not actually places to bury someone.
But instead, a monument that was used as a place of prayer by the guards and companions of the Chinese Princess who was married to Sunan Gunung Jati, namely Ong Tien Nio, who later changed her name to Ratu Rara Sumanding.
The influence of Islamic or Middle Eastern architectural styles is because the rulers of the Cirebon Palace are Muslim believers and leaders.
The influence of Islam can be seen from the shape of the niches on the walls of the building, the presence of pawudlon or ablution places and the symbols or symbols of the Qibla on the pavilions or prayer rooms.
In addition, the back side of the Jinem Ward, which looks like a ka’bah building.
The influence of European or Dutch architectural styles is not only due to the fact that this building complex was founded during the Dutch colonial period, but also because it was restored by the Dutch colonial government in 1937-1938.
This European style can be found in the form of the Pesanggrahan Building, the window shape of the Kaputren Building and the rotating stairs in the Arga Jumud Cave.
Apart from a comprehensive description of the existence of the Sunyaragi Cave, there are several spot unique and special that needs special attention while on location.
One of them is Balai Kambang, which was used as a place for gamelan players to welcome guests.
This pendopo-shaped building used to float on the surface of the water and is located above a pool which is about half the size of the Olympic swimming pool.
To go to Balai Kambang itself, you have to use a rowing boat.
But now, the pond around Balai Kambang is dry, so that Balai Kambang must be supported by concrete and to get to the place 2 bridges are also built of concrete.
Use of concepts floating building in Balai Kambang that allows a building to float on the surface of the water is an extraordinary architectural technology because it was created in the 17th century.
Therefore, it was the Japanese architects who carried the concept Green Float Project In order to make floating buildings in the future, it feels like you need to learn a lot from the architecture of the Sunyaragi Cave.
Tourists who want to see the meditations of the Sultans can head to Peteng Cave.
Besides being narrow, the top of the cave is rather low, forcing those who enter it to walk with a bow.
The philosophy of bowing is to respect the ancestors. He said, the Sultans of Cirebon in the past, while meditating, could let go of their souls and travel to other places, while their bodies were still left in Goa.
Right in front of the Peteng Cave, there is a pond and a long stone-shaped statue called “Perawan Sunti”.
It is said that every woman who touches the statue is said to be kept away from mate.
Regardless of whether the myth is true or not, the “Perawan Sunti” statue at the site is actually only a replica, because the original statue is currently stored in a museum in the Netherlands.
Another interesting building is the Jinem Ward, whose back shape resembles the Ka’bah.
The most magnificent building in the Sunyaragi complex used to function as a resting place for the Sultan.
In this place, the Sultan also watched his soldiers while they were training in war.