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Legendary Lombok steeped in culture and nature

December 10, 2019 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Lombok, the island close to Bali, might not be as popular, but holds a unique charm for its legends that run amongst it’s simple people living amidst beautiful nature. On a three day trip there recently, we got to indulge into the amazing archipelago that includes neighbouring Gili trio.

Arriving at the small but efficient Lombok International Airport after just a20 minute flight on Lion Air from Bali was inviting, especially after witnessing awesome aerial sights of the three Gili (small island)s on the cusp of Indian Ocean and Java Sea that were included in our itinerary.

Drive to Mandalika port offered a peek into the mountainous terrain that contrasted with the supposedly deepest Lombok Strait, as guide Uji narrated the legendary story of Mandalika. The beautiful princess had jumped off the cliff to save men from fighting to marry her. She returns every year, in the form a worm during the popular festival celebrated in February. We got to see the statue of Mandalika next, on a walk on Seger Kuta beach near the Novotel Lombok eco-resort. Hillock beyond the statues seemd good to watch sunset, but we head to Merese hill as scheduled, for an unforgettable sunset with a mesmerizing panorama. The small hike up the hill was worth every step, for its 360 degree view of the cliff clad coast, Tangung Aan beach and the construction site of the new Moto GP circuit. The ambitious project of the Indonesia Tourism Development Corporation scheduled to be ready by next year, is expected to bring-in more development and turn Lombok into a happening place. Local homes at 30 villages nearby are prepped up to take home-stay guests to experience local culture.

Sasak Ende village homes

Sasak tribe, the native inhabitants, are living  on the eco-sensitive Lombok island since thousands of years. Their sustainable lifestyle is beautifully presented to tourists at Sasak Ende village. ‘Bale Tani’ mud and bamboo houses have aesthetically laid palm fibre roofs and are maintained by regular smearing of cow dung water. Mushalla, the village prayer house, the rice barn and the cow shed were built with bamboo and wood. All the houses faced away from Mount Rinjani, in respect for spirits of ancestors believed to dwell on the holy mountain.

Peresean martial art cum dance form played at the central ground was amusing, especially when little boys joined to be pepidus or fighters. The dance fight mimics the supposedly won war and displays fierce fighting spirit of warriors. It is supported by live traditional Baleganjur music.

Bike ride rentals

Ladies were engaged in tamarind de-seeding, cooking, selling mangoes or weaving traditional Songket cloth. Earlier, women were expected to have weaving skills to add to farm income. Handing of the colourful Songket (long strip of cloth) as a welcome gesture whet our appetites to visit Sakurara weaving village, where we could try our hands at weaving on a traditional loom. The intricate art was best left to expert weavers and we picked ready stoles from the wide array that included Ikat designs as well.

Woman weaving Songket

Pottery making though, at Banyumulek pottery village seemed much easier, as we got to choose what we shaped out of ready clay on the potters wheel. Again, experts shaped vast array of earthenware including those with inlays and bamboo weaved in, on display, tempted us to pick a few to take back home. We also found more earthenware souvenirs  alongside Lombok pearls and other memorabilia at Sasak Lombok Oleh Oleh (souvenir shop) later in the evening.

Musicians at Sasak Ende

Curtains to our memorable day’s experience had to come down at the dreamy Benang Kelambu waterfalls. We opted for  bike rides, instead of a walk through, from UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mount Rinjani park’s entrance for lack of time. The rides, where ladies took on women riders, proved to be adventurous all through the ten minute bumpy path. Dreamy views of the cascades seeping out of fault line cracks created by shifting of the volcanic rock in layers, made  our climb down the steep 200 steps a joyful experience. Benang Kelambu(locally meaning ‘curtain’), cascades down through green bushes in four stages from the escarpments upper wall to the valley 40 meter below, giving it a mystic feel.

Lombok has cast a deep spell with a longing for more and we are happy to have been there before the big influx of visitors. Yes, this is the best time to visit the beautiful island.

Written by Anand & Madhura Katti

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