Penyengat is a small island situated in 1.5 km (W) from Tanjung Pinang (Bintan island). Administratively speaking, it belongs to the province of the archipelago of Riau.
The island has a 3,5 kilometre length. Its population is about 2,000 persons. Among them, 1/3 are descendants of the former royal family of Riau. Actually, in the early 16th century, the ruler of Malacca took refuge to Bintan after the Portuguese conquered Malacca. The court moved several times, to Johor and to Lingga, and a branch of the royal family eventually returned and settled on Pulau Penyengat.
In the 19th century Penyengat was the cultural capital of the Malay world. Some 9000 people inhabited the island, among them scholars from as far away as Mecca. Some Malay literature masterpieces were composed there, including "the Precious Gift" (Tufhat al-Nafis) of the 19th century writer Raja Ali Haji, describing the history of the Malay world from the 17th to the 19th century.
The island was then ruled by the Dutch and then the British, who supported the Bugis family, giving to the island its "Golden Age".
Nowadays, the island is easily accessible from Tanjung Pinang, and you still find the remains of this original era and dynasty.
|Hand writing Qur'an|
In the centre of the island is the restored palace of Raja Ali, who is remembered for his strict adherence to Islam. Raja Ali decided to build a mosque. According to legends, people donated food to the workers to help to build the mosque. At one time, they donated so much that the number of donated eggs exceeded the needs of workers. Thus, the eggs where mixed with the lime, resulting in the fine cement the mosque has been built of. The mosque was completed in 1844 and became an important centre of Muslim Malay learning in the 19th century.The mosque is worth to be seen, with its original yellow and green colours, but you can’t get in if your not Muslim.
Do not hesitate to check out also the numerous royal graves around the island, and the remains of the Raja’s houses.
|Grave of Royal Family|
|Grave of Engku Putri Raja Hamidah|
For those interested in military history, you can also see in the middle of the island an old citadel. It is worth getting there if you want an amazing sight over the whole island. There is also a second lonely little fort located on the west part of the island.
Don’t hesitate to spend a whole day on this island to visit all the different curiosity. Make a trip around the island using the coastal trail (Becak).
There are collective speed boats (POMPONG) from Tanjung Pinang jetty are getting to Penyengat all day long (only 2km to go). 1$ per person.