Cakra or Cakranegara is the easternmost suburban city that is part of the Mataram metropolitan area of Lombok, Indonesia. Cakra is an interesting suburb. Its main street is Jalan Selaparang and, heading east, it passes the Cilinaya shopping center, where you’ll find a complex of a supermarket, travel agency, car rental agency, and bookstore – a great place for a pit stop if you’re arriving in Cakra by car. The main draw of Cakranegara is its famous weaving and crafts, its important temples, and the city’s popular horse races.
There is a row of antiques and crafts shops lined southeast of the Cilinaya shopping center where visitors can bargain and buy their hearts out. Across from the shopping center sits the Rinjani weaving factory and factory outlet where the factory goods are sold. At the factory, women operate foot-and-hand looms rather than the more conventional backstrap looms. They work slowly at a leisurely pace to ensure traditional and new patterns are weaved correctly. Slamet Riady, located on a back alley, Jalan Tenun/Ukir Kawi, and Sari Kusuma, which is past the gas station along Jalan Selaparang, are the city’s three other weaving factories and outlets. If you visit the factories in the morning, you’ll get to see the spectacle of a crowd of women weaving intensely.
The heart of Cakra is the traffic light on the main street, Jalan Selaparang, where Jalan Gede Ngurah and Jalan Hasanuddin converge; the former heads south while the latter heads north. There is a blacksmith center called Getap located four blocks south of Jalan Gede Ngurah and east towards Jalan Pertanian. The blacksmiths are called tukang besi; they create bellows by taking large sections of bamboo and scrap steel taken from junked cars and then use the bellows to stoke their fires.
The crafts center at Jangkok Rungkang is a bustling center where qualify craft items are churned out for export to Bali or for sale at the entrance’s large shop. The items are primarily made using sections of sugar palm trees. The items are sold at cheap prices. To get there, take Jalan Selaparang and then turn onto Jalan Hasanuddin at the traffic light and head north. Once you cross the Jangkok River, the crafts center is about 100 meters to the left. Before reaching the center, you can stop by at the livestock market, which is located east of Hasanuddin before reaching the Jangkok River. The market is held two times a week.
The Selakalas horse racing field is located east of the market on Jalan Gora. Races are held on Sundays and on holidays. It’s interesting for visitors watching a horserace, especially considering that boy jockeys, aged 5-11, are used in Lombok. At age 12, jockeys are required to retire. These rules were implemented to prevent bribery from behind-the-scenes gamblers, as boys under 12 are thought to be too young to be corruptible.
The jockeys wear helmets and ski-masks when they ride. It is not unusual to see them flash special colors, whipping their red tasselea mounts to the finish line. Entire villages pride themselves on these rides. Horses are equally as competitive and it’s not uncommon to see them bite each other in competition.
Horse racing has been a traditional sport in Lombok, largely due to the ubiquitous cidomos. Unfortunately, organized races ceased for a while until the government began offering prizes such as motorcycles, TVs, bikes, and livestock to winners in the late 1980s.
The horses are really just ponies. They compete against other horses of the same height at the shoulder. The big ones reach up to 150 centimeters. The largest and fastest horses compete in the “XL” or “super” class and their races have a higher purse. Distances also vary depending on the size of the horses. Smaller classes usually run around 1,000 meters while the bigger classes reach up to 1,400 meters.
The night before a horse race, villagers do everything they can to help their animals win. They play gamelan music to relax their horse, they help keep mosquitoes away, and they help massage the animals. The horses are also fed with good food such as choice grass and grains as well as delicacies such as honey, ginger, and eggs. They even get coffee in the mornings.
There are three important temples in Cakranegara. In an area called Karang Jangkon, you’ll find a Balinese temple. At the back of the temple, there is a small plot where General van Hamm is buried. He died in 1894 in a battle that saw the Dutch defeated by the Balinese. Several years back, the marble plaques describing the General were stolen. There is also a cremation site at the front of the temple that you can’t miss.
The two other important Balinese temples in Cakra are the Mayura Water Palace and the Pura Meru. The Mayura Water Palace is right in the middle of Cakranegara. This palace was built in 1744 and served as a court for the Balinese. The focal point of the palace is its large rectangular pool. An important battle between the Dutch and the Balinese, who were allied with the Sasaks, took place here in 1894. The Dutch invaded Lombok and then decided to camp their troops at Mayura. The Balinese seized on this tactical blunder by sneaking up to the palace’s outer walls and picking off defenders. Cannons are placed next to Balinese statues to commemorate the islander’s victory. In the middle of the rectangular pool, you’ll find the Bale Kembang, a large open pavilion that you can access via the causeway. This meeting hall next to the city’s busy main street is used to administer justice. The pool is used by the locals for fishing and swimming.
Cakranegara is also home to the Pura Meru, which is Lombok’s largest Balinese temple. This structure is located just across from Mayura, separated by the main road. Anak Agung Made Karang of Singosari commissioned it in 1720. It boasts more than 30 shrines and features three courtyards. The three most important shrines are dedicated to Brahma, Wisnu, and Siwa and sport slendered multi-roofs with varied tiers. The temple is used to host the island’s most important Balinese rituals.
Muller, Kal, and David Pickell. East of Bali: From Lombok to Timor. Lincolnwood: Passport Books, 1991. ISBN: 0844299057.
 Muller, 56
 Id. at 58-59
 Id. at 59
 Id. at 58-59
 Id. at 59
 Id. at 58
 Id. at 60-61
 Id. at 61