A long day's journey lies between Garoet and Djokjacarta, which popular parlance abbreviates into Djokja. From the blue Preanger hills and palm-shadowed upland plains, the railway descends by steep gradients to the dense jungle and fever-laden swamp known as the Terra Ingrata. Malarious mists steam from marsh and mere, pink and purple lantana, yellow daisies, and the pallid blossoms of strangling creepers emphasise the gloom of the matted foliage, forming an impenetrable screen on either side of the narrow embankment across the dreary morass. The railway through the hundred miles of this miasma-haunted region was laid at immense sacrifice of human life, even the native workmen being compelled to sleep in camps far away from the scene of their daily toil. No white man could even direct the work, and the ubiquitous Chinaman, proof against every ill that flesh is heir to in Java, was deputed to superintend the solution of abstruse professional problems, between the short and hasty visits of Dutch and English engineers. Quagmire and quicksand, stagnant pool and sluggish stream, succeed in weary iteration. Bleached skeletons of dead trees writhe in weird contortions against the dark background of jungle, as though some wizard's curse had blighted life and growth amid the rank vegetation rising from this dismal Slough of Despond. The brooding melancholy of atmosphere and scenery penetrates mind and soul, oppressed by an intangible weight, and escape from the Dantesque horrors of this selva oscura is accompanied by a sudden relief and buoyancy of spirit which perceptibly heightens the interest of the old-world city, once isolated by the woodland fastness of Nature, and belonging to an ageless past, surrounding the authentic origin of Djokjacarta with thick clouds of fable and myth. The modern name is derived from Arjudja, a city recorded in Java's ancient annals as being established by Rama, the incarnate Sun-God. Na-yud-ja, the first king of this Divinely-founded capital, also memorialises in his name the place which became the nucleus of the ancient Hindu empire. Temples and palaces, walls and watch-towers, ruined by earthquake, buried in jungle, and blackened by smoke of war, testify to the splendours of old Mataram. A bitter resistance was offered by the invading hordes of Islam, whether pirates or prophets, princes or soldiers, and the Hindu territory remained independent until the fierce conflict in the 18th century with usurping Mohammedans and Dutch colonists, when family influence was undermined by political intrigues. The Dutch, after many vicissitudes, became absolute rulers of Java, though native princes, as tributaries, were suffered to retain a semblance of sovereignty. The shadowy paraphernalia of vanished power is still accorded to the Sultan of Djokjacarta, in melancholy travesty of past authority, though every hereditary privilege has been wrested from his grasp. A curious relic of primitive days remains in the al fresco Throne of Judgment, a block of stone beneath a rudely-tiled canopy, moss-grown and hoary. Two ancient waringen-trees, their aerial roots, drooping branches, and colossal main trunks denoting an almost fabulous age, flank the historic seat, where the turbaned Ruler administered justice to the surging crowd which thronged around him, the indigo garb of the Soendanese contrasting with the gay sarongs of Central Java, glowing in the hot sunlight as it poured through the dark trellis of fluttering boughs. The city in the course of ages moved away from this ancient centre, and the rustic Throne is now remote from the heart of civic life. The streets of Djokjacarta, and the surrounding roads, consist of shady avenues, where open tokos (the native shops) vary the monotony of Dutch villas, their white colonnades and porticos gleaming against the background of stately trees, and rising from a mass of tropical vegetation. The prevailing indigo of Soendanese dress gives a dull aspect to the wide but squalid streets, for in native capitals, though Dutch cleanliness may enforce perpetual "tidying up," the lacking sense of order produces a strange impermanence in the conditions insisted upon. The inner court of the Sultan's Kraton, or Royal Enclosure, is now taboo to visitors, for the barbaric monarch, on the plea of age and infirmity, has obtained the privilege of privacy, and the Palace can only be seen through a personal interview. The outer courts are accessible to carriages, which make the square-mile circuit of the spacious quadrangles. Massive gates and crumbling machicolated walls command a green plain, where immense waringen-trees, clipped into the semblance of evergreen umbrellas, display the Eastern symbol of sovereignty. Officials passing to and fro show a continuous procession of these State pajongs. The Sultan's august head is canopied with gold, edged by an orange stripe, the Crown Prince sporting an umbrella with a golden border. Sultanas and royal children are known by white pajongs, while the vast concourse of Court officials, with umbrellas of pink, blue, red, black, purple and green, show their status to the initiated eye through the sequence of colour by which the pajongs form a complete system of heraldry. In the dusky angle of a mossy wall, four elephants, used in State processions, feed upon bundles of bamboo and sugar-cane. Mud huts and bamboo sheds prop themselves against tiled eaves and windowless houses. Open doors afford glimpses of squalid interiors, crowded with slatternly women and dirty children, the hereditary retainers and hangers-on of this effete and moribund royalty. Private troupes of dancing bedayas, gamelon players, actors, pipe, fan, and betel-box bearers, pertain to the tumbledown Palace, and the patriarchal system of ancient Java permits the presence of whole families belonging to these indispensable ministers of the royal pleasure. The people show the same indifference to Mohammedanism as to the perished faiths of olden time, and a large funeral party encountered on leaving the Kraton displays painful irreverence, though scattering rice and lighting incense sticks before a white coffin borne shoulder-high, and decked with a tracery of yellow marigolds and rosettes of pink paper. No priest accompanies the procession, and the laughter of the white-scarved mourners, preceded by men carrying ropes and planks, suggests an utter heartlessness and barbarity. Gay passers, a busy campong Tchina, a very hive of Celestial industry, and innumerable drives beneath over-arching trees, with distant views of purple peaks, comprise the interests of old-world Djokja, with the one exception of the famous Taman Sarie, or Water Castle, ruined by earthquake, but remaining as a pathetic memorial of bygone power and pride. Pavilions and baths, grottoes and fish-ponds, set in the tangled verdure of a neglected garden, surround the arcaded parapets of a colossal tower. Green plumes of fern wave from wall and battlement, velvet moss and orange lichen tapestry the blackened stone, and matted creepers sway their woven curtains in the evening wind. A Dancing Hall, which formerly rang with the weird music accompanying the "woven paces and waving hands" of Court bedayas, in their spangled pink robes, now echoes to the tread of alien feet; the dim arcades teem with ghostly memories, and the mournful desolation of the Taman Sarie borrows fresh poignancy in the former scene of mirth and music. A moss-grown and slippery stairway leads to the green twilight of a subterranean grotto, containing the richly-carved stone bedstead of the Sultan, who sought this cool retreat from the ardour of a tropical sun. A silvery curtain of murmuring water fell before his sculptured couch, and supplied this haunt of dreams with an ideal, if rheumatic environment of poetic beauty and lulling charm. Superstition clings to the deserted resting-place, and to touch even the stone columns of the royal couch is to invoke the powers of evil, and the presence of Death. The Sumoor Gamelon, or "Musical Spring," echoing with the voice of flowing waters, flanks the ancient banqueting hall, and cools a circle of vaulted grottoes, their shadowy depths bathed in the emerald twilight, deepened by the veil of verdure and the transparent foliage drooping over open window spaces. The Sultan's oval bathing tank, with stone galleries and spiral pavilions, occupies a hollow tower, but a touch of young life dispels the gloom, for a group of brown children swim and dive in the cool depths, shouting and splashing with a merriment unsubdued by the solemn sadness of the deserted halls. A Portuguese architect designed this fantastic retreat for an old-time Sultan, who brought the idea of the Water Castle from a far-off Indian home. The earthquake of 1867 rendered the Taman Sarie uninhabitable, choked the lake in which it stood, and destroyed the subaqueous tunnel which ensured the absolute seclusion of Sultan and harem. The famous Marshal Daendels, weary of waiting for an interview with a dilatory Sultan, yielded to natural impatience, and hearing the sound of distant music from the watery depths, dashed through the thicket of tamarinds which concealed the entrance to the water pavilion, and, dragging the Sultan from the place of dreams, scattered bedayas and gamelon players in terror, forcing the so-called "Regent of the World" and "Shadow of the Almighty" to accompany him to the Dutch headquarters. Rose garden and shrubbery, palm grove and pleasaunce, are fast relapsing into impenetrable jungle. Broken fountains, and mouldering vases once filled with orange-trees, outline the balustraded terraces; gilt pavilions lift their upcurved eaves above a wild growth of oleander, but the enchanted scene of old romance is given up to bats and lizards, for the crumbling Taman Sarie is now a fast-vanishing monument of Java's buried past.
The number of rechas, or sacred stone figures of Brahmin and Buddhist origin, in the garden of the Dutch Residency, shows the scant care bestowed on the ancient temples, for years used as mere quarries of broken statuary, and still receiving inadequate recognition as historical remains, though Sir Stamford Raffles a century ago realised the supreme importance of Javanese sculpture as an indispensable link in archæological science. Djokjacarta, interesting in itself as the survival of an ancient dynasty, borrows double attraction from the architectural wonders which surround it, buried for ages in the deep green grave of tropical vegetation, but now laid bare as an open book, wherein we may read those graven records which unveil the mysteries of the past, and enable us to gaze down the long vista of Time and Change.