Tamansari, meaning perfumed garden, is the name for the gardens and associated structures built in 1765 for Hamengku Buwono I, the sultan of the kingdom of Yogyakarta. The grounds spread over 12,600 acres and included a series of water gardens, pools, and artificial lakes, as well as a collection of 59 buildings. Among the most notable features of the landscape were a mosque, a fort, a meditation space, and a series of underground tunnels connecting the structures. Man-made islands surrounded by water were another highlight of the gardens. The project’s chief architect, Tumenggung Mangundipura, had reputedly studied western architectural styles in Dutch-occupied Batavia, now Jakarta, and infused his work with both eastern and western concepts. The garden complex was ultimately abandoned by the royal family, and has since been settled by local residents, who now occupy the grounds.
2004 World Monuments Watch
The Tamansari complex suffered from a series of devastating earthquakes, including one in 1867 that damaged many of the significant buildings, and effectively drained the water gardens. The site was included on the 2004 World Monuments Watch. Following Watch-listing, WMF supported work on the restoration of the garden’s principal entrance, the ornate Gapura Agung. WMF also oversaw renovation of the Umbel Binangun pool area.
Though the Tamansari garden has suffered from natural disaster, neglect, and urban encroachment, the complex remains an important national monument, and one of the best surviving examples of eighteenth-century Javanese architecture and landscape design. The garden is visually impressive and historically significant. While the complex cannot be restored to its original state, areas within the garden, like those targeted in WMF’s conservation projects, are valuable pieces of the region’s cultural legacy. Following a devastating earthquake in May 2006, efforts to preserve the Tamansari garden complex have taken on an even more critical urgency.