Beautiful silence at Maria Tritis Cave

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(Photo: Caecilia Linggarjati)

IO – Gunung Kidul in Yogyakarta is famous for its lovely beaches. Along the coast there are limestone hills with fascinating caves. Among these is Maria Tritis Cave, a place of pilgrimage for Catholics. 

The name “Tritis” comes from the Javanese word tumaritis, which means “dripping water”. Even now, there is still water flowing from the stalactites in the cave ceiling. The natural stalactites add beauty to the cave. 

In the past, Tritis was known as a haunted place. It is said that the princes of the Mataram Kingdom came to this place to meditate. Approaching the 1974 Christmas celebration, a priest heard about the beauty of this Tritis cave from a local child. Then the idea came up to hold a Christmas celebration service in the cave. 

In 1977 the Tritis cave officially became the Maria Tritis Cave. The statue of the Virgin Mary at that time was made of white stone. Later, the statue of Mother Mary was replaced with a smaller black stone statue. 

It takes about 1.5 hours journey to the cave from Yogyakarta, without congestion. The distance is approximately 52 km. 

Usually, tourists also stop by the beaches around the cave. However, for some reason that day I was wearing a green shirt. According to the beliefs of the people of Yogyakarta, it is a big taboo to wear green clothes on the south coast. As a Javanese, I frankly don’t dare to violate this taboo. 

Before the trip, we stopped by to shop for drinks and snacks for the trip. If you are still hungry and dare to try “extreme” culinary delights, there are many fried insect traders along the way. I once tried fried grasshoppers while on vacation in Cambodia. The taste of the meat is delicious too. The problem is it takes time to peel the skin which can make us stare at the insects for a while. Over time, you can lose your appetite. 

Arriving at Tritis Cave, we don’t have to worry about getting hungry, since there are many food vendors there. There are also young coconut traders who are ready to provide a fresh drink. They also have medicinal green coconut, if you need it. There are also some contemporary snacks you usually see in elementary schools in Jakarta, such as cilok and chili powdered macaroni. 

The road to the cave is quite challenging for people who are not in good physical shape. Although the road has been paved, there are steep inclines and descents. The good news is that there is special transportation for elderly residents to take them to Maria Cave. For those of you who are young and strong, it’s great to limber up your legs after 1.5 hours of driving from the city. 

It’s true, as people say, the stalactite cave is truly beautiful. Catholics perform their services praying while lighting candles. If you don’t pray, there are seats available to celebrate the silence, coolness, and beauty in the cave. 

Returning to Yogyakarta, we stopped by a fried chicken restaurant on the edge of Gunung Kidul road. The fried chicken and chili sauce was delicious, but the service was slow. 

On the way home, I realized there are many interesting places on the Gunung Kidul national road. One of them is the Amaryllis Flower Garden, which went viral on Indonesian social media; thus, a lot of local tourists take photos there. The tourists who took pictures did not take care to make sure that the flowers were not damaged. (Caecilia Linggarjati)