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Balinese culture on Lombok

Playing in on the popularity of neighboring Bali as a popular tourist place, the Department of Tourism of Lombok once used 'You can see Bali on Lombok, but you can't see Lombok on Bali'. The slogan isn't used anymore, and that's good, because it's better to se only Bali on Bali. That doesn't mean that there is no connection, there are about 100,000 Balinese living on Lombok, of which 95 per cent in the western part of the island. They maintain a number of temples to provide in the spiritual needs of their community.

It's not always easy to visit these pura; they are often closed, unless there is a ceremony. Looking for the one with the keys is often frustrating. Only a few 'tourist' temples are usually opened. The most important rituals are usually performed with full moon (bulan purnama). Inform with the Balinese department of Religion (Kantor Agama) in Mataram for the exact dates of these ceremonies.

The Temples

Gunung Pengsong

Gunung Pengsong, about six km south of Mataram offers one of the most spectacular views on entire Lombok on clear days: in the morning Gunung Rinjani looks very nice, and in the late afternoon you can also see Gunung Agung on Bali from here.

The entire day you have a very nice view over the rice fields. On the top of a steep hill is a small temple, which can be reached over several stairs. Visitors are guided by monkeys, which are hoping for something nice. One of the altars contains a big egg-shaped stone.

In March or April there is a very important harvest festival. People say that during this ritual, a water buffalo is brought to the top to act as main sacrifice. The most important ceremony, Anggara Keliwon Prang Bakat, takes place every second cycle of the pawukon, the 210 day Balinese ceremonial calender.

Pura Segara

Pura Segara is located north of Ampenan on the beach. Turn left on the main road Ampenan Senggigi besides Sudirman's antiqueshop. Pura Segara is a typical Balinese temple, but the biggest attraction is the background: numerous fishermen's boats some of them with unfolded sails like birds dry their wings. On the beach are food stalls.

Batu Bolong

Batu Bolong is located a little north along the coast, south of the beach of Senggigi. The temple is built on a rock which is almost into the sea. When the weather is clear you can see Gunung Agung when the sun sets. Too bad for tourists, but there are no virgins given to the sharks anymore. The temple got it's name from a rock with a hole which is nearby: batu is rock, and bolong is hole.

Mayura Waterpalace

The Mayura Waterpalace is located in the center of Cakranegara. As the name suspects, it's a palace, built in 1744 for the Balinese royal court, and placed around a big square basin. Mayura was the location of an important battle between the Dutch and Balinese, which were supported by the Sasak. After the Dutch invasion of Lombok in 1894, the Dutch army had made a camp near Mayura, which proved to be a strategic disaster. The Balinese - which had guns - went to the fence and shot the defenders one by one. Several cannons - besides Balinese statues - are witnesses of the end. In the middle of the basin is a big and open pavilion, which can be reached over a raised path. The court of law with meeting room is a quiet place besides the crowded main street of Cakranegara. The youth from the city goes here for a swim and some fishing.

One of the shrines east of the basin overlooks the water and is surrounded by West-Indian jasmine and colorful croutons. The full moon of Prunama Keempat, the fourth month of the Balinese calendar, is the date of the most important ceremony of Mayura. When you want to visit the shrines, you need to wear a sarung (cloth).

Pura Meru

Pura Meru, the biggest Balinese temple on Lombok, lies across the Mayura across the main road. The complex, built in 1720 under the order of Anak Agung Made Karang of Sungosari, has three inner squares and over thirty shrines. The tree main meru-shrines - dedicated to Siwa, Wisnu and Brahma - are slender and have eleven, nine and seven roofs. The temple is the location for one of the biggest Balinese rituals.


Narmada is located about ten km east of Pura Meru, right of the main road to Labuhan Lombok. The big, central, artificial lake looks like Danau Segara Anak, in the crater of Gunung Rinjani. It was built in 1805 by the raja of Mataram when he got too old to climb the Rinjani to place his sacrifices there. The replica of the volcanic lake was enough for the raja; others said he built it to see the girls from the village bathing, to pick them afterward. The biggest part of the Narmada complex nowadays is open, included the traders with food and drinks.For a very small amount you can rent a boat for on the lake. You can also find a swimming pool there. It's opened daily, and the view from there is actually very nice.

A part of the Narmada complex, the Pura Kelasa, is still used by local Balinese. It's the center of the annual Pujawali ritual, in which sacrifices are given to the artificial lake. Among them are ducks, which are soon grabbed by the boys from the neighborhood. Some Balinese climb the Rinjani to offer gold and other objects near Danau Segara Anak during a ceremony which is called Pakelem. This takes place during full moon of Purnama Kelima, the fifth Balinese lunar month.

Pura Lingsar

Pura Lingsar, a few km to the northwest, is the most important temple on the island for the Balinese and the local Sasak which support Wetu Telu. The main temple complex in Lingsar, dating from 1714, is spread over two religions. The Balinese domain is the northern one and the highest as well. Once a year, the Pujawali ritual is held here, which lasts a week and takes place around Purnama of the Balinese lunar month Kenem (from the end of November to the beginning of December). The climax takes place in the late afternoon before the night of the full moon: the two parties - Balinese and Sasak - attack each other with ketupat. The projectiles are pressed, packed rice. After the 'fight', cockfights are held.

Near the entrance of the temple are two small bassins and just under the temple complex is a lake with holy eals.

Last revised on December 14, 2009
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