We didn’t think, at first, that Balekambang Park was our main destination in Surakarta or Solo City. But now we know, it’s a mandatory attraction when we revisit Solo someday. The park itself reminded me of Kebun Raya Bogor (Bogor Botanical Garden). Only, Taman Balekambang is smaller and doesn’t have Istana Negara (Bogor Presidential Palace).
Both parks share same function as city lungs. So much oxygen for you, here. Unfortunately, so many mosquitos as well. So, you better smear your skin with a repellent, or at least wear long sleeves like we did when you go out for a picnic in Balekambang Park.
Recently, Balekambang Park is often used to welcome important guests of Surakarta Local Government with gala dinner or other ceremonies. Yet, it’s a public place. You can even hold a wedding party here, or prewedding photo session, if you like. You’ll soon figure out where the wonderful spots in Balekambang Park are.
History of Balekambang Park
Balekambang Park stands on 9.8 hectares area. A noble KGPAA Mangkunegara VII built it for his daughters: GRAy Partini Husein Djayaningrat and GRAy Partinah Sukanta, since October 26th, 1921.
The term “balekambang” combines two Javanese, balé (villa) and kambang (floating). Yes, Balekambang refers to a floating villa on a little lake. It might be like lanting house in Borneo. And it’s surrounded by hundreds year old trees.
At the beginning, Balekambang Park was a private property. It’s not opened for public until the era of Mangkunegara VIII. Since then, many cultural spectacles were held, such as ketoprak lesung, Srimulat (1970-1980), and so on.
The days of television came, then. Srimulat group left Balekambang Park since people preferred to watch at home. Balekambang Park had gradually turned into an abandoned place. And so, illegal massage services and veiled prostitutions within started to grow.
Luckily, the Mayor of Surakarta Joko Widodo (now the President of Republic of Indonesia) revitalised Balekambang Park in 2008. The park became neat again. Not only as a city lung, but also as an art and a cultural hub (did I tell you there is an amphitheater too?), as well as a botanical, educational, and recreational park.
What Are in the Balekambang Park
As I witnessed, Balekambang Park consists of some parts.
- Partini Tuin (Partini Waterpark). It has function as water reservoirs in the city. There are rowing boat, waterbike, fishing area, and some other attractions as in Floating Market Bandung. We had planned to go around the lake with a rowing boat. But we canceled it. We just were afraid it would be too exhausting, since we had another place, out of Solo, to visit after Balekambang Park.
- Partinah Bosch (Partinah Forest). It’s a city lungs that is planted by rare plants, such as canary, white banyan, sungsang banyan, and brown apple. There are vehicles to take a tour, such as horse carts, mini cars (for three passengers and a driver), et cetera.
- Reptile Park. It’s located at the west side of Balekambang Park, near the lake. We paid IDR 5,000 per person to enter. In Reptile Park, you can meet iguanas, albino snakes, turtle, crocodile, hornbill, cockatoo, cassowary, eagle, white pigeons, deers, monkeys, bantams, rabbits, turtles, geese, turkeys, etc. Some of them live in cages or terrariums. Some of them walk or fly freely.
The other parts I didn’t visit, but the billboard state them, are swimming pool, Balé Apung (floating villa), Tirtoyoso Villa, lintang stones, love stones, road stones, outbound vehicles, and nursery. Almost everything you need to escape your routines is in Balekambang Park. You will take at least half a day to visit them all.
Taman Balekambang is Easy to Reach
Did you know, Balekambang Park is located at the north side of Manahan Stadium. It is not far from Tirtonadi Bus Station. You can reach it by becak or taxi.
My husband, Kiara and I took a walk from our hotel, which is near the bus station. Ten minutes walking. Not a good idea, if you ask me. Because that inter-city road doesn’t provide pedestrian path while so many speeding vehicles there. So, you better take a car or a motorcycle to get Balekambang Park.
- Address: Jalan Balekambang no. 1 (bypass Krian Street or Semarang-Surakarta Street), Banjarsari, Central Java 57139
- GPS: -7.55305, 110.80783
- Phone: +62 271 736227
- Open hours: 7.00-18.00 every day
It’s free to enter Balekambang Park. Unless for parking, food and beverage, fishing equipment, Reptile Park, or taking picture with the animal (pay as you want). So, Balekambang Park is really a cheap, yet quality place you don’t want to miss in Surakarta.
– Photos by Brahmanto