If you are fascinated about the Malay Archipelago's intricate history that dates back to the 1500s, this is the place to go. The island used to be the seat of the Malay-Bugis kingdom that stretched to Johor and Pahang in Peninsula Malaysia. But do read up on the history before going as it would really help you to understand the relationships of the tombs you are visiting as most of them are inter related and that their names are quite similar. Bringing a geneology map as well as a map of the island with the placement of the various tombs may be very useful.
Once you are at Raja Abdurrahman's tomb look to your left and go up the steep slope and head out to the back of the forgotten park, you get to see 8 canons that was once used to protect the islands of Dutch invasion. Incidentally this is also where the original old royal settlement used to live. For those who are not too keen on walking and hiking there's the motorised trishaw that would take you around the major places of interest. Don't forget to also go to the ruins of the old castle although the only thing standing is the anteroom. Do also visit the Rumah Adat for a replica of the Malay royal throne and an accompanying bedroom. If you get lucky, there may be visiting troupes performing Malay dances.
Of course don’t forget to visit the “jewel” of the island i.e the Royal Mosque itself. This beautiful structure would be the first that visitors get to see upon arriving from the pier. The chandelier is beautiful but if you are not muslim do ensure that you are modestly dressed before entering and try not go into the prayer hall. Do check out the little mini museum in the mosque. The caretaker would be more that glad to help you understand the place better and if you like, you can purchase a book on a brief history of the islands and its illustrious rulers.
It is also interesting to note that currently the island does not have accommodation facilities so its best to be there early and get the last boat ride back to Tanjung Pinang. If you are in larger groups e.g.5 and more, its best to hire your own private boat to take you to and from Tg Pinang and decide for yourself when you would like to head back. The boatman would be glad to wait.
If you do like to visit all the historical tombs and places of interest then a good 4-5 hours would be sufficient. For our group of 8 we practically walked and hiked all around the island to all these places and we started off at 1pm from the Mosque and left the island by 6pm.
If you do like to visit all the historical tombs and places of interest then a good 4-5 hours would be sufficient.
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