In the spirit of Indonesia’s Independence day this week, we will take you on a journey to explore the most famous historical landmarks in one of Indonesia’s most exotic islands: Bintan.
Located in such a strategic location, Bintan has a rich history and some are reflected through the island’s many historical sites. Riau itself has been home to Malay and Orang Laut people (sea nomads) for centuries. It also has been a haven for migrants from South China and Indochina.
With the earliest history of Bintan Island dating back to 231 AD and with the island being occupied by a melting pot of cultures and peoples due to its strategic location as a trading port, Bintan has a very rich history and some are reflected through the island’s many historical sites.
Riau itself has been home to the Malay and Orang Laut people (sea nomads) for centuries. It also has been a haven for migrants from South China and Indochina.
500 Lohan Temple
Its actual name is Vihara Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva and one of Bintan’s best hidden gems. The temple is located in Kijang, South Bintan, which is a short drive from Tanjung Pinang.
The main attraction at the 500 Lohan Temple is the 500 life-sized Lohan or stone statues with complex physiques and facial expressions. Each of the statues is unique and different from one another. Facing the 500 arhats (one who has gained insight into the true nature of existence and has achieved nirvana) are another three great bodhisattvas (enlightened beings who have put off entering paradise in order to help others attain enlightenment); Wen Shu Bodhisattva sitting on a lion, Puxian Bodhisattva sitting on an elephant and Guan Yin holding a willow.
500 Lohan Temple may not exactly be the easiest place to get to and is truly a “hidden gem” but feel free to approach any of the friendly locals in the area; they would be more than happy to guide you to the temple. This is one historical landmark that you must not miss out on visiting!
500 Lohan Temple: WG3Q+WX4, Batu 13, Kec. Tanjungpinang Tim., Kota Tanjung Pinang, Kepulauan Riau 29125, Indonesia
Vihara Avalokitesvara Graha
The Vihara Avalokitesvara Graha is the largest Buddhist temple in all of Southeast Asia, with a landmass of 10 hectares. Located in Tanjung Pinang City, Vihara Avalokitesvara Graha is one historical evidence of the existence of the Chinese community in Tanjung Pinang for centuries.
The sacred temple was built by the Chinese community to serve as a place to deepen religious knowledge and a place of study for monks, sangha (the Buddhist community), and teachers both from local and foreign countries such as China, Singapore and Malaysia.
Aside from functioning as a place of worship, the Vihara Avalokitesvara Graha is also one of the most-visited destinations for tourists who come to Bintan. Apart from the magnificent buildings and landscaped gardens and parks, the statue of Goddess Guan Yin within the temple is also an attraction for tourists.
Vihara Avalokitesvara Graha: pinamg, Tj. Unggat, Bukit Bestari, Kota Tanjung Pinang, Kepulauan Riau 29125, Indonesia
Banyan Tree Temple
The Banyan Tree Temple is a Chinese shrine that functions as a place of worship for locals. The most fascinating feature of this temple is that ancient trees that have been around for hundreds of years entwine and grow around the building of the temple, cocooning it almost in a protective embrace. Because of its riveting display, many tourists from far and wide have travelled to the Banyan Tree Temple to gaze upon this marvel.
Based on the story written on the signpost, the tree has been around since 1811. Formerly, it was the residence of a Chinese captain, Chiao Ch’en. After the place was abandoned by the owner of the house, local residents took the initiative to make a house of worship considering that there were many residents of Chinese descent on Bintan Island.
Banyan Tree Temple: Senggarang, Tanjungpinang City, Senggarang, Tanjungpinang Kota, Kota Tanjung Pinang, Kepulauan Riau 29115, Indonesia.
Mesjid Raya Sultan Riau
Located in Penyengat, Tanjung Pinang, Mesjid Raya Sultan Riau, or the Grand Mosque of the Sultan of Riau is eye-catching with its striking colours of royal yellow and green, making it the first thing that catches your eye as soon as you approach Pulau Penyengat.
Known as the “Jewel of the Island”, the mosque is a majestic structure comprising of 13 domes and four minarets, making up to 17, which is the number of raka’ats (sections of prayer) a Muslim has to complete in one day.
Mesjid Raya Sultan Riau: WCHC+Q55, Penyengat, Tanjungpinang City, Tanjung Pinang City, Riau Islands 29114, Indonesia
Stay at ANMON
When visiting Bintan Island, make sure that you stay at the most comfortable resort to rest your legs after a tiring day exploring the city. The ANMON Resort Bintan is there to accommodate any of your needs during your vacation in the island. It is a perfect choice to stay with the whole family and your loved ones as ANMON has all the facilities you need.