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Dompu : Charming Town On The Road To Mount Tambora Or Lakey Beach Surf

Not many have heard of the town of Dompu on Sumbawa. But for avid mountain climbers, Dompu is a small attractive town on the trek leading up north to Mt. Tambora, the supervolcano on Sumbawa, whose mega explosion on 11 April 1815 caused the “Year without Summer” in far away Europe the following year. For surfers, the town of Dompu lies on the road to some unbelievable left hander surf at Lakey Beach and Hu’u by the Cemani Bay, some 40 km. south of Dompu.

Unlike surrounding hot and dry areas on the island of Sumbawa, the district of Dompu boasts refreshing fertile plains where the simplicity of life harmonizes with scenic landscape. Travellers should therefore not expect luxurious accommodation facilities here.

Contrary to its present simple condition, nonetheless, Dompu was once a significant sultanate. In the 14th century, the powerful viceroy of the empire of Majapahit in East Java, Gajah Mada, personally led an invasion of Dompu and neighbouring kingdoms, when the region then came under the rule of Majapahit.

The town of Dompu, West Nusa Tenggara
The town of Dompu, West Nusa Tenggara (Source : smsagro.com)

However, at the explosion of Mount Tambora on 10–11 April 1815, the sultanates of Dompu, and its people, together with the other sultanates of Tambora, Sanggar and Pekat were completely wiped out, buried under the hot clouds, ash and lava of Mt. Tambora. A new Islamic sultanate later emerged on Dompu, but ended in the early 20th century.

Dompu is the third largest city on the island of Sumbawa in West Nusa Tenggara, located between Flores to its east, in the East Nusa Tenggara province, and Lombok, to its west.

For archaeological buffs, there are alluring sites here dating back to the old kingdoms which can still be found in explorations on Sumbawa.

In Dompu there is an archaeological site, precisely at Doro Bata, meaning mountain or hill in the local language. Doro Bata is a hill of bricks in the middle of the town’s residential area in the Village of Kandai I, Dompu District. This site is believed to have been part of the Dompu palace when Dompu was under the control of the Majapahit empire.

A number of archaeologists and researchers have also come to Doro Bata to do minor excavations around it in an attempt to uncover its history buried here whose civilization was completely destroyed by the Tambora volcanic eruption, which included the Dompo Sultanate. It is speculated that on the Doro Bata site was once a building which was a place of worship and a meeting place for the local Ncuhi or chieftains.

Doro bata hill, Dompu
Doro bata hill, Dompu (Source : sangajigroup.wordpress.com)

Excavations have discovered bricks from a temple at a depth of 1.5 meters. Around Doro Bata, there have also been discovered some relics, such as the Candi Sambi Tangga (Sambi Temple Stairs, approximately 1 kilometer from Doro Bata) and the Warukali site, believed to be an ancient tomb complex, located some 2 kilometers from Dompu. At the peak of Doro Bata, were also found small ancient wells in an area of around 100 square meters, used by town residents during the dry season.

ACTIVITIES

Dompu is a city with lots of charm and great tourism potential. Visiting Dompu, you have the opportunity the experience to absorb nature, culture, and history. Its location is not far from the legendary Mount Tambora which undeniably adds to the attraction of this town. You should not miss visiting the Doro Bata site.

In addition, there are other heritage sites, the temple stairs and Site Warukali Sambi. At the Warukali site there are ruins of irregular buildings. It was not the common design for buildings in that time, as archaeologists studied in mid-May 2004. The building had a terrace of wooden construction on top of the building. Of the materials used – namely bricks and stone – it was deduced to be left-over materials from a sacred place of worship, as these were materials not normally used for those types of buildings. In this area were also found ceramic objects of great value.

Mada Prama is an excellent location for swimming and bathing. Located approximately 4 kilometers from Dompu, this is a great place to refresh yourself after the harrowing climb up Mount Tambora. Here are natural springs set in a lush tropical forest surrounding, which make for a very peaceful and relaxing setting.

Approximately 5 kilometers south of Dompu, is a village called Lapadi, which is popular for watching horse racing. This event is held every Sunday, almost always at the Lapadi racetrack. Crowds of spectators, jockeys, and of course especially the racing horses, all become a unique and exciting show. Surprisingly, some of the jockeys are actually still little kids already very adept at riding horses.

For lovers of beach or surfing, Hu’u Beach is highly popular for its waves. Located approximately 40 kilometers from Dompu, the beach is a popular surfing spot in Sumbawa. The waves are high, unique and challenging, making Hu’u Beach one of the most popular surfing areas in Indonesia.

Besides Hu’u Beach, Lakey Beach is also a haven for surfers both locally and overseas. The beautiful beaches have unique, left-hander waves which challenge and really test the surfer’s skills. Although located a little off the beaten track, there are reasonable to resort accommodations available for tourists.

Pulau Nisa Pudu and Nisa Rate are two islands that offer beautiful and elegant, panoramic views. These two islands are located approximately 45 km from Dompu. To reach these islands, you can cross at Pier Kempo located at the Saleh Bay.

Another interesting place to visit is the Dompu Plantations. The Dompu coffee plantations have gradually developed into an agrotourism attraction with outstanding crops like coffee and cashew nut, while stock breeding and production forests extend along the Southern slopes of Mount Tambora.

GET THERE

Dompu is located in east of Sumbawa island and can be reached via air transport, land, or sea.

If you are coming from Jakarta or other cities it is usually through the airport in Bima, which is named Mohammad Salahuddin Airport. From Bima, take a bus to Dompu. From Bima to Dompu the distance is approximately 100 km or around a 3 hours drive.

If you arrive from Denpasar towards Dompu, you can take a bus directly to Dompu. The journey takes approximately 2.5 days. The road from Denpasar to Dompu is long and tiring but very scenic in some locations along the route.

When traveling by sea, your destination is to the port at Bima. The ship sails twice a month. There is also a freight ferry from Lombok to the Port Tano (West Sumbawa). From there, there are buses available to Dompu.

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