One of the most unexpected sights in predominantly Muslim Sumbawa is the Hindu temple of Pura Agung Udaya Parwata Tambora. Nestled in the forest on the western slopes of Mount Tambora volcano near the village of Pancasila and Oibura Tambora Bima hamlet (commonly referred to as Bali Village), close to the start of the Tambora trek, the temple has a short but rather chequered history.
Originally constructed in 1984 by a logging company working in the area for its Hindu employees, the site chosen was a natural spring that had supposedly been a onetime place of meditation for Danghyang Nirarta, a revered 16th century Hindu traveller and founder of the Shaivite priesthood in Bali.
After the logging company moved out of the area, the temple fell into disuse and disrepair until 1995 when the Indonesian transmigration program brought Hindu’s from Bali into the area. Over the next ten years, the temple was renovated and slowly expanded. Works had barely been completed when an earthquake in 2007 caused extensive damage to temple structures.
Beginning 2008 until early 2014, the temple underwent another round of renovation and expansion. This included the construction of concrete baths over the natural spring, which until then had been used by the local villagers for their daily needs. Not surprisingly, the appropriation of the spring triggered conflict between the Hindu worshippers and predominantly Muslim villagers.
Although the baths were ultimately dismantled, relations were further strained by an increase in activity around the temple late in 2014, as Hindu’s prepared to celebrate the 30 year anniversary of the temple. Then in April 2015, official events held at Tambora to commemorative the 200 year anniversary of the devastating eruption brought the existence of the temple to more widespread attention. After it was incorrectly reported as one of the largest Hindu temples in SE Asia, many Sumbawanese Muslim’s protested strongly against its existence.
Thankfully, the controversy has settled down and nothing could be further from your mind when strolling around this little piece of Bali tucked away in its peaceful forest setting. Well worth a visit if you’re in the Tambora area.
Pura Agung Udaya Parwata Tambora is located approximately 1km from Oi Bura village. As you enter the village, keep the houses on the left, past the “Balai Banjar Dukuh Tambora” sign and follow your nose. The same as when visiting Bali temples, both men and women should wear clothing covering their knees and a sash around the waist. The latter can be obtained from the caretaker in the house located about 100m opposite the temple. Just call out “halo” and indicate what you need and she will sort you out. Don’t forget to leave a small donation for the temple.