The island of Lombok in south-central Indonesia is slowly becoming an important tourist destination. It could have been as popular as Bali by now if not for its past:it has had such a problematic history that its tourism industry never took off. If you’ve been to Bali, imagine it without the pollution, tourism overload, persistent beach vendors, and unending rows of shops and stalls, then you get an idea of how beautiful Lombok is. In addition to the beaches of this place, Mayura Garden stands as an important tourist attraction in Lombok.
Located in Cakranegara, the Mayura Garden is a very old structure that was built by ancient Balinese who settled in Lombok. Bali and Lombok are just 45 kilometers apart, separated only by the Lombok Strait. Maybe many million years ago these two beautiful islands were just one amazing island since it is quite apparent today that they share the same beautiful natural treasures such as their beaches, reefs and waterfalls. When the Balinese people decided to build a kingdom in nearby Lombok, they built picturesque temples and palaces. The Mayura Garden used to be a part of one those palaces.
Also called Taman Mayura, Floating Temple, Mayura the Water Palace, Mayura Park, or Mayura Palace Garden, this century-old structure and its beautiful pool were supposed to have been built in 1744 by Ngurah Karang Asem. It was one of the construction projects of the Balinese Raja (King) Anak Agung Made Gede Ngurah. The Raja was thrilled with the task to developing the newly discovered virgin island, and so constructed a number of architectural wonders, including the Pura Meru, a mighty state temple, and other structures that rivaled the existing kingdom in Bali, the exotic Karangasem Kindgom. The vast water garden complex, Taman Mayura, was one of the Rajah’s masterpieces. He boasted of the floating hall, Balai Kambang, in the middle of the pool. The floating hall was used as the hall of justice or meeting place for many important state gatherings and religious events. The architectural within the complex was clearly influenced by a blending of Hindu and Islamic styles. The spaciousness of the garden courts is similar to the palaces found in Central Java, unlike the crammed palaces in Bali.
Taman Mayura lost its splendor and all its functions shortly after the Dutch took control of the island and the rest of the country. Today, one can only imagine what this palace used to look like, and yet it is still a lovely park in Cakranegara, one of the three major ports and commercial centers in Lombok. (The two other commercial areas are Ampenan and the capital city of Mataram.) Foreign tourists flock to Cakranegara for the many shops and restaurants, and then check out the Taman Mayura to see if all the talks about it are correct.
Inside the Mayura Garden, visitors are treated to a row of mangosteen fruit trees and a local art performance right at the entrance gate. Further inside are the man-made lake that is full of lotus plants and the floating Balai Kambang pavilion. Inside the pavilion are ancient statues and in the surrounding areas are the remains of the old Pura Meru Hindu temple.