A small island situated across Tanjung Pinang, capital of the Riau Islands Province, the island of Penyengat in the 18th century was the twin-seat of the Sultan of the Johor-Riau Kingdom. Today, the Sultan’s palace is being restored. It is an interesting blend of Javanese and Dutch architecture, still imbued with an air of dignity, even though it has been abandoned for more than 80 years. Here are tombs and crypts, and a restored fort.
The pride of the island is the Sultan’s Mosque (shown on the left), the Mesjid Raya Sultan Riau Penyengat. Peeping through the palm trees like a fairy tale castle, it is still in use today. Rumour has it that a large part of the mosque was made of eggs, gifts from the Sultan’s loyal subjects on the occasion of his wedding. The egg-white proved to be a strong bonding agent. The mosque has excellent acoustics and even a whisper can carry right across the auditorium. Here is also the beautifully preserved handwritten and illustrated Quran of over 150 years old.
Nearby is the tomb of Raja Ali Haji (shown on the right), author of the dictionary, grammar and history of the Riau Malay language, which became the base for Bahasa Indonesia, the present national language of the country.
Further down is the tomb of Engku Puteri Permaisuri, queen of Sultan Mahmud. She was a Bugis Princess who received the island of Penyengat as her dowry. She took power and reigned here until her death in 1844.