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Mataram Travel Guide

Mataram is the capital city of the island of Lombok in Indonesia and the center of an urban sprawl that consists of two other suburban cities: Ampenan and Cakranegara. The legal border of Mataram is marked at Jalan Suprapto by a traffic light, and just before it is the regional tourism office along Jalan Langko road. Unfortunately, Mataram proper is only a city of government offices with really nothing of interest to visitors.[1]

The main attraction of Mataram is the Nusa Tenggara Barat museum, which is actually less than a kilometer away from the traffic light at Jalan Suprapto that serves as the entry point into Mataram. On display are a variety of local artifacts, including a cloth collection, a diverse array of tools and craftwork, and a collection of Dongson drums and kris knives. Captions at the museum have English as well. One notable highlight on showcase is a “mystical” paraphernalia of amulets, which allegedly bestows upon the user a supernatural ability to predict the future and to be immuned from weapons.[2]

Lombok Asli is a good arts shop that’s worth visiting. Located close to the University of Mataram at Jalan Gunung Kerinci 36, the shop sells traditional as well as avant-garde items made by craftsmen for export and for the local tourist markets. Items include Sasak-patterned silk clothes and colorful masks. The range of selection is impressive and the store offers to help you pack and ship your purchased goods.[3]

Another attraction is the large governor's office building, which employs a tinge of traditional Sasak architecture. It is an imposing building because of its sheer size. You can’t miss it. It is located at the corner of Jalan Cokroaminoto on the city’s main street, Jalan Pejanggik. This is the same road that leads to the airport to the north.[4]

Mataram reaches its border limits after Jalan Pejanggik reaches the intersection where Jalan Bung Karno heads south and Jalan Bung Hatta heads north. This is shortly after Jalan Pejanggik passes the Berinyok River. The city’s best hotel is the Granada Hotel, noted for its tropical garden and aviary. It is only a few blocks to the south of Jalan Bung Karno.[5]

Gunung Pengson is the only significant temple near Mataram and is located about 6 kilometers to the city’s south. The temple offers some stunning views of the island on visible days. From the temple, you can see Mount Rinjani in the mornings and Mount Agung in Bali during the afternoon. You can also get good views of the rice fields of Lombok throughout the day. Gunung Pengson rests atop a steep hill, which can only be reached by enduring a lot of stairs. The gruel is ameliorated by the chattering monkeys escorting you up; what they really want is a handout for the mouths. Gunung Pengson features an altar that has a large, egg-shaped stone cemented in the temple’s seat of honor. In March and April, the temple hosts a significant harvest ceremony. The ritual involves sacrificing a water buffalo at the temple’s top. The Anggara Keliwon Prang Bakat, however, is an even more significant ceremony. It is held once every two cycles of the Balinese, 210-day ceremonial calendar – the Pawukon.[6]

Muller, Kal, and David Pickell. East of Bali: From Lombok to Timor. Lincolnwood: Passport Books, 1991. ISBN: 0844299057.

[1] Muller, 56, 58
[2] Id. at 58
[3] Id.
[4] Id.
[5] Id.
[6] Id. at 60

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