Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sultan Riau Mosque

Sultan Riau Grand Mosque is a famous historical tourist site on Penyengat Island, Tanjung Pinang, Kepulauan Riau province.  This mosque was built when the island was the residence of Engku Puteri Raja Hamidah, wife of the Riau ruler, Sultan Mahmudsyah (1761—1812).  Initially, this mosque was a simple wooden building with brick floors and about 6 meter tall towers.

Sultan Abdurrahman then invited participation from his people to help build a bigger mosque. People from many places around the Riau Lingga area came to the island to donate their materials, food and manpower.

Some said that due to abundant food supplies of rice, vegetables and eggs, workers were so bored eating eggs that they only ate the yolks and used the whites as adhesive material.  The egg whites were mixed with sand and limestone to make this mosque which still stands strong today.

Getting There

The entry point to Kepulauan Riau province is through Hang Nadim international airport.  You can also come through Port Sri Bintan Pura, in Tanjung Pinang.  Here, there are many small vessels that can take you to Malaysia and Singapore.

It will take about 20 minutes from Tanjung Pinang Port to Penyengat Island by a small motorboat locally known as a Pompong at a cost of Rp 10,000 (about 1 US Dollar) per person. You can also rent the boat for Rp 80,000 (about 7 US Dollars) per Pompong to take you round trip.

Getting Around

To travel around Penyengat island, you can take “Becak Motor (Bemor)” (a three wheel motor vehicle) for Rp 20,000 (2 US Dollars).  On this island, visitors will not find any cars or similar vehicles.

To Do

Many visitors come to pray in this historical building. If you're more interested in the architecture, here are some details. The walls of this mosque are 50 cm thick and the mosque is the only one remaining from the Riau-Lingga kingdom that is intact.  The total size of this mosque compound is about 54.4 x 32.2 meters.  The size of its main building is 29.3 x 19.5 meters, and is supported by four pillars.  Its floor is made of clay bricks.  In its yard, there are two Sotoh houses for travelers and meetings.  There are also two halls where local people place food during parties or fast breaking sessions in the evenings during the holy month of Ramadan.

This mosque has thirteen domes and four sharp towers as high as 18.9 meters that were previously used by muadzin to call for prayers. This mosque looks as strong as royal palaces in India. Its domes are varied and grouped into three and four domes. Total number of domes and towers is 17. It reflects the total number of rekaat in Moslem pray that must be performed by every Moslem every day. Sultan Riau Mosque has very unique architecture. It is not known from where this mosques architecture originates.

To Stay

There are no hotels or commercial inns on this island. Visitors can stay in local people’s houses.

To Eat

Visitors can find many restaurants selling typical Malay foods.

To Buy

In Penyengat Island, you cannot buy local souvenirs, but you can buy local handicrafts from souvenir shops in Tanjung Pinang.


In addition to tourist sites, the hospitality of the people on this island will make this trip an unforgettable memory.  Local people have many stories about the island. You can continue your journey to other historical sites on the Island such as the tomb of Raja Ali Haji, forts, government palaces, etc.

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