About Lombok

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Lombok is an island in West Nusa Tenggara province, of volcanic origin. It is part of the chain of the Lesser Sunda Islands, with the Lombok Strait separating it from Bali in the West and Sumbawa to the East.

The Lombok Strait marks the passage of the biogeographical division between the fauna of the Indomalayan ecozone and the distinctly different fauna of Australasia that is known as the Wallace Line, for Alfred Russel Wallace, who first remarked upon the distinction between these two major biomes.

The island's topography is dominated by the stratovolcano Mt. Rinjani, which rises to 3.726m (12.224ft), making it the third-highest in Indonesia. On its hillsides you will find green lush forest, rice-terraces and beautiful waterfalls.

The most developed center in the west is Senggigi, spread in a 30-kilomter strip along the coastal road north of Mataram, while divers congregate on the Gili Islands off the west coast.

The southern part of the island is a fertile plain where corn, coffee, tobacco and cotton grow. One of its popular destinations is Kuta, known for its untouched beaches and where surfing is considered some of the best in the world.

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Population

On the total area of 4.725km2 (1.825 sq mi) are living 2.950.105 (2005) people, 85% are Sasak, whose origins are thought to have migrated from Java in the first millennium BC. Since the Sasaks population practice Islam, the landscape is punctuated with mosques and minarets, in the traditional Sasak villages you can find the rural life of a unique culture.

Other residents include 10-15% Balinese, with the small remainder being Chinese, Arab, Javanese and Sumbawanese.

History

First known society on Lombok was the kingdom of Sasak, Selaprang. In 1674 the Dutch first visited Lombok and settled eastern most part of the island, leaving the western half to be ruled by a Hindu dynasty from Bali. The Sasaks chafed under Balinese rule, and a revolt in 1891 ended in 1894 with the annexation of the entire island to the Netherlands East Indies. Since the Declaration of Independence on 17th August 1945 Lombok is part of Indonesia.

Tourism

Lombok appears to be on the verge of a tourist boom. With the commercialization of Bali over the past few years, and with the accompanying traffic and reduction in open, natural spaces, many tourists are discovering the charm of "Undiscovered" Lombok.

With this new interest comes the development of a number of posh boutique resorts, especially in the area around Senggigi, serving quality food and drinks, but just a stones throw away from rural, unspoiled countryside-much as Bali was decades ago.

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Traffic

The Bandar Udara Internasional Airport is located south of Mataram, the provincial capital and largest town on the island. Various airlines operate daily flights from/to Denpassar on Bali (25 min. duration of flight). Local ferries are connecting Lembar Harbour/Lombok with Padang Bai/Bali within 1.5 hours by speed-boat and 4-6 hours by normal ferry, it is also possible to reach the Gili Islands directly from Padang Bai.

Taxis and mini-vans are providing transport all around the island.

The main-roads are partially in very good condition, since smaller roads are often adventurous to drive.

Renting cars or motorcycles is possible in the tourist-centers.

Mataram and Cakranegara

Mataram is the capital of the province which has in the past decades joined with the harbour of Ampenan and Cakranegara to become the province's biggest urban complex.

In the beginning of the 18th century, Mataram was the residence of the crown prince of Karang Asem, a kingdom in southern Bali. The ruler himself had his seat in Cakranegara. The royal palace no longer exists, but many of the old temples and pleasure gardens are still there. Lombok's biggest Balinese temple is the Pura Meru in Cakranegara. Dedicated to the Hindu trinity, Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu, it was built in 1720 by Anak Agung Made Karang, which has three courtyards. Three pagodas like places of worship stand in a line from north to south in the innermost courtyard. The one on the north is dedicated to Vishnu and has a roof with nine tiers. The central is dedicated to Shiva with 11 tiers on its roof and the southernmost one is for Brahma with a roof of seven tiers. Nearby is Taman Mayura, once part of the royal palace, it has an artificial lake set in the middle. 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.

Narmada

Taman Narmada, 11 kilometers 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 big 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 people became too old to make the pilgrimage up the 3,726 meter high mountain, they had Narmada made to represent the mountain and its lake. Near the pond is a place of worship and a spring whose water is believed to give dedicated pilgrims eternal youth.

Pura Lingsar

This may be the only Hindu shrine in the world where both, Hindus and Moslems come to worship. About 7 kilometers west of Narmada, 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 in the compound. In the lower yard is a spring in which pilgrims in the temple yard stage a mock battle between Hindus and Moslems in which troth parties hurl rice cakes at each other.

Pura Agung Gunung Sari

This great temple on a hill at Gunung Sari, about four kilometers from Mataram, was witness to the Puputan battle to the last man, fought on November 22, 1894, between Lombok's last Balinese ruler, Anak Agung Nengah and followers, and the Dutch troops under General Van der Vetter's command.

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Sukarare

This is a village of weavers south of Cakranegara. Lombok is known for his brightly patterned songket cloth. People have been making it on their handlooms for many generations.

Sengkol, Pujut and Rambitan

Time seems to have frozen in these three villages in southern Lombok on the road from the capital to Kuta Beach. All the houses and barns are built in the age- old traditional style where life itself appears to be as it always has been. The arid savanna-like landscape of this area is impressive even in its starkness.

Batu Bolong Beach

Located 9 km from dowtown Mataram, this beach has a huge rock with a hole in it. A Hindu temple lies on top facing the Lombok Strait and across is the contour of majestic Mount Agung on Bali. After sunbathing, relaxing and frolicking on this beautiful beachfront, try to stay till the end of the day to watch one of the most stunning sunsets you have ever seen when the sun slowly begins to disappear behind Mount Agung with incredibly flaming colours.

Taman Mayura

The Mayura Park is what remains of the once existing Karang Asam kingdom of Bali whose King A.A. Ngurah built it in 1744. In the middle of a large pond is a structure called Balai Kambang which at the time functioned as a legal court of justice as well as a hall for important meetings. Curiously, its architecture shows both Hindu as well as Islamic influence, whereas around the place statues made of stone are found in the form of a Moslem hajj.

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Pura Meru

Another relic remaining from the Karang Asam Kingdom is the Meru Temple at Cakranegara close to Mataram. The temple was built in 1720 during King A.A. Made's rule as a symbol of Hindu unity on Lombok Island. Several structures are found in this complex, all of them designated to function for particular purposes, including the 33 stalls located next to the main temple.

Kuta Beach

Also known as Putri Nyale Beach, Kuta on the south coast of central Lombok is one of the most scenic and untouched beaches in this part of Indonesia. From Kuta to Tanjung Aan 5 km away, it is an unbroken stretch of clean white sand on the Indian Ocean. It is safe for bathing and swimming. Further to the west are the surfers and windsurfers beaches. Each year, on the 19th day of the tenth month of the Sasak lunar calendar when the Nyale fish come to the sea's surface, Kuta Beach is the site of great festivities.

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 means "island". These three are clustered together just off the northwest coast of Lombok. Coral gardens abound in clear waters around the islands. Gili Air, the nearest island, can be reached in 10 to 15 minutes by outrigger boat from Bangsal harbour, near Pamenang.

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Senggigi Beach

Senggigi, south of Bangsal, belongs to the most scenic and most popular beaches on the island of Lombok with good accommodation facilities. Coral gardens grow in the sea just off shore.

Mount Rinjani

Mount Rinjani, a 3.726 meter high active volcano, is one of the highest mountains in Indonesia. At the floor 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.

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Tepas, Sumbawa

A village on the slope of the mountain Batu Lante, 60 kilometers south of Sumbawa Besar, where the houses are built in traditional architectural style.

Mount Tambora, Sumbawa

Not active at present, the 2.820 meters high volcano Tambora. Infamous for its savage eruption on July 5 -July 15, 1815 where falling debris, hot gases and lava streams killed more than 12,000 people. Some 44,000 more perished of hunger in the aftermath of the explosion. The top, now a big caldera has two colored lakes. From the rim of the crater the view over the rest of the island, the sea, Mt. Rinjani, and the island of Lombok in the distance is breathtaking. The mountain occupies almost the entire Sanggar peninsula.

Moyo Island

Moyo Island, at the mouth of the Bay of Saleh, has a nature reserve with wild oxen, deer, wild boars and a great variety of bird species. Visits are best made during the dry season from June through August.

Bima, Sumbawa

The former palace of the Bima sultanate is now being turned into a museum. Daras village two kilometers from the town of Bima in eastern Sumbawa, is believed to have been the seat of the ancient Bima kingdom.

Sape, Sumbawa

Ship wrights still make sailboats the traditional way in this port town on Sumbawa's east coast. Sape is a convenient point of departure for trips to Komodo Island, home of the prehistoric Komodo lizards.

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Beaches

Other good beaches are found at Talolai and Hangawera north of Bima and Lunyuk on the south coast of Sumbawa.

Hu'u Beach (Dompu Regency)

Beautiful beach with white sand located on the Indian Ocean. It is known for its big and long waves which is good for surfing. The beach surrounded by lovely panorama. The distance from Dompu is 37 km, it can be reached by car and has modest accommodation for visitors.

Ule Beach (Bima Regency)

A calm beach with white sand nicely located on the Bima bay with a beautiful small island called Pulau Kambing (island of goat). There are fish ponds and garoso trees (tropical fruit trees) along the beach. Local people spend here their holidays.

Wane Beach (Bina Regency)

Located 60 km from Bima and be reached by car. It has white sand and big waves, suitable for surfing.