Back to Jogja, Back to Monjali

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(Photo: Prive. Doc)

IO – Yogyakarta is indeed special. Named the capital of the fledgling Republic of Indonesia during the early days of Independence—this city was attacked twice during the Dutch Military Aggression, in 1947 and again in 1948. These and other incidents eventually pinned Yogyakarta as one of the monuments to struggle in Indonesia. Also, its embracing of historical layers mark Yogyakarta as one of the most attractive destinations for surviving Javanese culture, imperiled in the modern world. 

To look back on the heroic struggle of Yogyakarta following the conclusion of World War II, we see it as a place with unique architectural forms such as tumpeng, a charming destination. 

It is popularly known as Monjali, which stands for the Monumen Jogja Kembali. 

Located at the Ring Road Utara intersection, Ngaglik District, Sleman Regency, the Monjali stands out even from afar. The shape is unique like a tumpeng with the dominance of white ceramics throughout the architecture. 

This place was initiated by Colonel Soegiarto, who in 1983 served as the Mayor of Yogyakarta. After going through a long process of land acquisition and concept research, construction finally began on 29 June 1985 with a traditional ceremonial of planting a buffalo head, and the first stone-laying ceremony by Sri Sultan Hamengkubono IX and Sri Paduka Paku Alam VIII. 

Construction embarked on June 29, because it was in 1949 that the Dutch, who since the end of World War II had relentlessly attacked Indonesia, handed over Yogya back de facto to the motherland. This important event some 72 years ago created the cry of “Return to Yogya” or “Yogya has returned” – a slogan popular until the present. 

The construction of Monjali took up to four years, starting from the first stone laying ceremony in 1985 to its inauguration by President Soeharto on July 6, 1989. In the 90s, this monument also became a mandatory site to visit for school students around Yogyakarta, and outside Java as an educational / historical destination. 

Monjali’s position is a strategic part of the imaginary points of Yogyakarta that connect main destinations such as the Yogyakarta Palace, Yogyakarta Monument, Mount Merapi, Parang Tritis, and Panggung Krapyak or Kandang Menjangan. Yogyakarta people believe these points are referred to as the Big Axis of Life. A three-dimensional diorama on the third floor of Monjali thoroughly explains the significance of these imaginary points of Yogyakarta. 

Monjali, which is inspired by tumpeng, a typical Indonesian food, consists of three floors. Inside there is a library and multipurpose room. 

The building is surrounded by a 1-meter pool, giving off a fresh impression of the monument. 

In the courtyard, there is also a long wall containing the names of heroes who died during the Dutch Military Aggression—a total of 422 names are listed on this white marble wall. 

The Monjali Museum is divided into four main sections. On the first floor, various war memorabilia are displayed, such as telephone planes during the war era, as well as photos of the struggle during the period 1945-1949. The photos on display tend to be rare and do not appear in Indonesian history books. 

There are also important documents during the war that are still neatly stored, various types of inoperative weapons from the time. There is also an evocative display of a kitchen in the war era. 

There is also a replica of cart used by Great Commander Soedirman when leading guerrillas in Java during the First Military Aggression and state leaders such as Soekarno, Bung Hatta, Agus Salim, and Sutan Syahrir, exiled by the Dutch to various locations in Sumatra. Another excellent collection of the Yogya Kembali Museum is a variety of replicas of military clothing used by soldiers and heiho during the war or TNI in the early days of Independence. 

One of the other rooms in this place also shows the General Offensive of 1 March 1949, a heroic act of several hours led by Colonel Soeharto in the attempt to reclaim Yogyakarta from the Dutch; the room is known as Soeharto’s Diorama. 

Even though it seems like an old school, visiting the Monjali Museum can be an alternative to getting to know more about Yogyakarta during the struggle. The museum is open every day except Monday, from 09.00 to 14.00. Entrance tickets to this museum are priced at IDR 10,000 for adult visitors and can be purchased at the counter at the main door. 

After closing, the place is often used as a hangout by locals. Sometimes, Monjali also becomes a night market that offers a variety of culinary delights and games for children. 

In the middle of the ongoing pandemic, if you visit Monjali, don’t forget to adhere to health protocols: always wear masks correctly, maintain distance from other visitors, and don’t forget to wash your hands with soap and running water.