West Nusa Tenggara
The Wallacea Line, named after 19th century naturalist, Alfred Russell Wallace, marks a point of transition between the flora and fauna of Western and Eastern Indonesia. The line acts as an invisible Western boundary of West Nusa Tenggara, which includes the islands of Lombok and Sumbawa. The northern part of the island is mountainous and lush with tall trees and shrubs. The south, is arid and covered by savannas. Instead of large Asian mammals there are marsupials, lizards, cockatoos and parrots. Further to the east, dry seasons are more prolonged and corn and sago are the staple food, instead of rice.
At around the time Islam first came to these islands in the 16th century; four Hindu Kingdoms co-existed in apparent peace in what is now West Nusa Tenggara. Lombok experienced strong Balinese influences, but has retained a unique identity. The indigenous people of Lombok, the Sasaks, are predominantly Moslem and have a strong, distinguished tradition, as do the people of neighboring Sumbawa. Soft, white sand, virgin beaches are typical in Lombok. Famous for its ikat hand-woven textiles, the island has exceptional charm and is relatively undiscovered, except for the town of Senggigi, which is a growing major resort area.
Place of Interest in West Nusa Tenggara
Mataram and Cakranegara
Mataram is the capital of West Nusa Tenggara province. At the beginning of the 18th century, Mataram was the residence of the crown prince of Karang Asem, a kingdom in southern Bali. The ruler had his seat in Cakranegara. Lombok’s biggest Balinese temple is the Pura Meru in Cakranegara. It was built by Anak Agung Made Karang in 1720, dedicated to the Hindu trinity of Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu. It has three courtyards, and three pagoda-like places of worship stand in a line from north to south in the innermost courtyard. The north structure is dedicated to Vishnu, the central to Shiva and the southernmost to Brahma, and has 9, 11 and 7 tiered roofs, respectively. Nearby is Taman Mayura. Once, part of the royal palace, it has an artificial lake set in the middle of a park. A raised path leads from the side of the pond to a pavilion built in the middle of the lake. In former days, justice was meted out and religious rituals were performed in this open-sided pavilion.
This may be the only Hindu shrine in the world where both Hindus and Moslems come to worship. About 7 kilometers west of Narmad, it was built in 1714 and rebuilt in 1878 to symbolize harmony and unity between the Hindu Balinese and Moslem Sasak population of the area, especially those who adhere to Lombok’s unique Wektu Telu School of Islam. The Balinese temple is built on higher ground, behind the Moslem section of the compound. In the lower yard is spring near which pilgrims stage a mock battle between Hindus and Moslems, hurling rice cakes at each other.
This is a traditional weaving center village located in the southern part of Cakranegara. Lombok is famed for its brightly pattern songket cloth. The techniques, pattern and motifs have been skillfully handed down through the generations of local weavers.
Sengkol, Pujut and Rambitian
Time seems to freeze in these three villages in south Lombok, just off the road to Kuta beach. All the houses and barns are built in the old traditional style, and the villagers’ way of life has remained unchanged for centuries.
Batu Bolong Beach
Located 9 kilometers from downtown Mataram, this beach has a huge rock with a hole in it. A Hindu temple lies on top overlooking the Lombok Straits to majestic Mount Agung of Bali. After sunbathing, relaxing and frolicking on this beautiful beachfront, stay till the end of the day to watch one of the most stunning sunsets you have ever seen as the sun slowly disappears behind Mount Agung.
The Mayura Park
The Mayura Park is all that remains of the Karang Asam Kingdom of Bali. Its king, A. A. Ngurah, built a structure called Balai Kambang, which once functioned as a legal court of justice and a hall for important meetings. Curiously, its architecture shows both Hindu and Islamic influences, adorned with stone statues resembling a Moslem haj.
Kuta Beach Lombok or Putri Nyale Beach
Kuta Beach of Lombok
Kuta Beach of Lombok is also known as Putri Nyale Beach. On the southern coast of central Lombok, it is one of the most scenic and unspoiled spots in Lombok. From Kuta to Tanjung Aan (Cape Aan) is 5 kilometers away, stretches an unbroken expanse of clean white sand lapped by waves of the Indian Ocean. Kuta is safe for bathing and swimming. Further to the west are the surfer and windsurfer’s beaches. Each year, on the nineteenth day of the tenth month of the Sasak lunar calendar, Kuta Beach becomes the venue of grand festivals. Fishermen sail out to sea while young men and women gather along the beach to join in the merrymaking, tease each other and perhaps meet to build a more lasting relationship.
Gili Air, Gili Meno and Gili Trawangan
Gili, in Sasak language means ‘island’. These three islands are clustered together just off the northwest coast of Lombok. Coral gardens abound in the clear blue waters around the islands. Gili Air, the nearest island, can be reached in 10 to 15 minutes by outrigger boat from Bangsal Harbor.
Mount Rinjani a 3,726 meters active volcano is one of the tallest mountains in Indonesia. In the basin of the volcano’s huge caldera is the sickle-shaped crater lake, Segara Anakan, surrounded by steep walls. The mountain is popular with hikers. Sembalun Bumbung and Sembalun Lawang are two traditional Sasak villages on the slopes of Rinjani that can be visited while trekking the mountain.
Mount Tambora, Sumbawa
Not active at present, the 2,820 meter Tambora is notorious for its savage eruption on April 5 – July 15, 1815. Falling debris, hot gases and lava streams from the eruption killed more than 12,000 people. Some 44,000 more perished of hunger in the aftermath. The top, now an immense caldera, has two distinctly colored lakes. From the rim of the crater, the breathtaking view over the rest of the island includes Mt. Rinjani and the island of Lombok rising out from the sea.
The shipwrights of Sape still make sailboats using age-old traditional techniques in this port town on Sumbawa’s east coast. Sape is a convenient point of departure for trips to Komodo island across the strait, home to the gigantic Komodo lizard.
Hu’u Beach, 37 kilometers from Dompu town in Dompu Regency, is a gorgeous white sand beach and one of Indonesia’s best-rated surfing spots and one of the world’s finest. An International surfing competition is held here each July.
Pura Agung Gunung Sari
This great temple on a hill at Gunung Sari, about four kilometers from Mataram, was the site of the infamous Puputan battle of November 22, 1894 between Lombok’s last Balinese ruler, Anak Agung Nengah and his followers, and colonial Dutch troops under the command of General Van der Vetter.
Narmada Park 11 kilometers from the east of Mataram, was built in 1727 by King Anak Agung Gede Ngurah Karang Asem as both a pleasure garden and place to worship Shiva. Its large pool is said to represent Segara Anakan, the Crater Lake on the volcano Rinjani, where they used to make offerings by throwing valuables into the water. As the king became too old to make the pilgrimage up the 3,726 meters high mountain, he had Narmada constructed to represent the mountains and the lake. Near the pond is a place of worship and a spring whose water is believed to give dedicated pilgrims eternal youth.
In north of Bangsal, this beach is one of the most scenic and popular beaches on the island of Lombok. Snorkeling and accommodations of all classes are available.